Lingaraj Temple, built by king Jajati Keshari from the Somavamsi dynasty in the 11th century, is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is known as the destroyer. It is believed to be the oldest and largest temple in Bhubaneswar, more than 1100 years old.
The temple’s structure is made up of the stone of the darkest shade. The king started constructing the Lingaraj temple when he shifted his capital from Jaipur to Bhubaneswar in the 11th century.
History of the Lingaraj Temple
It is believed that some portions of the Lingaraj temple were constructed originally in the sixth century but further renovated and erected in a fully-fledged way only in the eleventh century. The temple is also mentioned in the Brahma Purana, which is a revered scripture of the Hindu religion.
There is a story regarding the temple, which states that once Lord Shiva explained to his beloved Goddess Parvati why Shiva favored the city of Bhubaneswar more than Banaras. However, hearings the story of Lord Shiva, Parvati embarked on the journey to find evidence of the real fact. So, she took the form of normal female cattle and went out to discover the city. While she was on her journey, two demons who wanted to marry her came her way. Even after her constant refusal, they kept following her, so she disappeared and set herself free to keep herself safe. After that, Lord Shiva formed the Bindu Sara Lake to convey eternity to space.
Lingaraj Temple is constructed in the Kalinga style of architecture. The Lingaraj Temple is in a spacious courtyard spanning a vast 250000 sq. ft. The height of the temple is about 180 ft. (55 m). The temple faces east and is built of sandstone and laterite. The main entering gate is located in the east, while minor gates are in the north and south of the temple. The Lingaraj temple has four distinct parts, namely, Bhoga Mandapa ( offering hall), Natamandira (festival hall), Vimana (structure containing the sanctum), and Jagomohana (assembly hall), each arranged in descending order of height. The door in the entrance porch’s gate is made of sandalwood.
One can enter the temple compound through Simha Dwara (the lion’s gate), where lions line both sides crushing elephants under their feet. The exterior wall of the hall has decorative sculptures of men and beasts. The tower walls are carved with female figures in different poses. The temple has an enormous courtyard hindered with hundreds of small shrines.
Key Shrines at The Temple
The temple is divided into four portions, the Garbh Griha, the Yajna Shala, the Bhoga Mandap, and the Natya Shala. Within the Garbh Griha (Sanctum Sanctorum), the lingam of Lord Shiva is known as ”Swayambhu’ (Self-originated), and it is being worshipped as both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. On the foremost entrance, one can see a trident of Lord Shiva and Chakra of Lord Vishnu on either side of the door.
The concord of the two sects is also seen here, where the deity is worshipped as Hari-Hara. The word ‘Hari’ denotes Lord Vishnu, and ‘Hara’ denotes Lord Shiva. The Lingam is worshiped daily with milk, water, and bhanga. All the sculptures have been artistically decorated with beautiful draperies and ornaments.
Time to visit Lingaraj temple
The period between January and March is worth visiting the temple, as one can overlook the divinity of the Shivaratri celebration around the temple’s premises. Non-Hindus such as Muslims, Christians, and others are not permitted to enter the temple. Still, they can observe the temple and its celebrations from the viewing platform situated outside the temple.
Way to reach the temple
Anyone planning to visit the Lingaraj temple can reach all three routes: rail, road, and air.
By Air: Biju Patnaik Airport is the nearest airport situated at the heart of Bhubaneswar and is associated with all major cities of the country, such as New Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Bangalore.
By Train: Many express and superfast trains ply through the nearest railway station Bhubaneswar. It is well associated with each major city in India.
By Road: Bhubaneswar is situated on the National Highway. The city is reachable by public and private service buses.
The opening time
The Lingaraj temple is opened at 6 a.m. and closed at about 9 p.m. every day. It is intermittently closed during the Bhoga period means food offering to the deity. The temple is closed from about 12 noon until 3.30 p.m., and a ceremony called Mahasnana is performed once all doors are closed.