A Magnificent Example Of Temple Architecture Of Orissa
A product of the accumulated and crystallized experience of several centuries, the temple of Lingaraja is the quintessence of Orissan architecture. In the elegance of its proportions and the richness of its surface -treatment, it is one of the most finished and refined manifestations of the temple-architecture in India.
The treatment of its different elements displays the consummate skill of its different elements displays the consummate skill of its master-designer; all its constituent parts are effectively integrated into a compact unity of supreme dignity. The crowning achievement of the architect is the design of the graceful contour of its towering 'Gandi'. The Gandi's soaring height and grandeur are almost a marvel.
The plastic embellishment of the temple is of equally exquisite workmanship. All the panoply of Orissan decorative motifs is mustered here with a rare aesthetic sense; every piece of carvings serves its appointed role and enhances the majesty of the edifice as a whole. With all the features fully evolved, it is the culmination, in every respect, of the architectural movement at Bhubaneswar and sets the norm for the later temples.
A Traditional Connection
Traditionally, the construction of the temple is associated with three of the later 'Somavamsi' kings with names ending in 'Kesari' but there is no reliable record of its date.
However, an inscription on the wall of the 'Jagamohana', recording the grant of a village for the maintenance of a perpetual lamp in the shrine of 'Krittivasas', by which name the temple was anciently known, and dated A.D. 1114-15 in the reign of the 'Ganga' king 'Anantavarman Chodaganga', sets the later limit of the date of the temple.
The temple is a combination of four structures, all in the same axial alignment - 'Deul', 'Gahamohana', 'Nata-Mandira' and 'Bhoga-Mandapa', the last two being subsequent additions. The spacious courtyard is full of shrines, big and small, of varying dates, their number exceeding a hundred, of which only a few are of outstanding merit. The complex is enclosed by a massive compound-wall pierced by an imposing portal on the east and two secondary gates on the north and south.
The 'Jagamohana' is equally monumental and closely follows the 'deul' in decorative details. The 'Jagamohana' originally had two balustraded windows, of which the one on the south side was converted into a door at a later date, perhaps when the 'Nata-Mandira' or 'Bhoga-Mandapa' was built. The topmost part of the 'Bada' above them is relieved with three 'Rekha' replicas spaced by either a male or a female figure.
The Temple Deity
By the time the Lingaraja temple was constructed, the Jagannatha cult had become predominant throughout Orissa. This is reflected in the fact that the temple deity here, the 'Svayambhu Linga', is not, as in all other cases, strictly a 'Shiva linga'. It is considered to be a 'Hari-Hara' linga, that is, half Shiva, half Vishnu. This and the variety of deities represented elsewhere on the temple, once again point out the basically syncretic nature of so much of Orissan religion.
There are 150 subsidiary shrines within the immense Lingaraja complex, many of them extremely interesting in their own right, but non-Hindus cannot visit them.
MINOR SHRINES IN THE COMPOUND OF LINGARAJA
Amidst the group of subsidiary shrines clustering round the great temple, two, one, on the north of the 'Jagamohana', known as "Gopalini" or "Bhuvanesvari" and the other, on the south of the 'Deul', known as "Savitri", are of the "Khakhara" order. The 'Parsva-Devatas' in them are different forms of 'Parvati'.
In some of the other subsidiary shrines can be seen a number of images of different dates, mostly of 'Parvati', 'Karttikeya', 'Ganesa' and 'Surya' and rarely of 'Balarama', 'Subhadra', 'Krishna' and 'Trivikrama'.
Many of them found their way into these shrines after the decay or destruction of the temples, to which they had originally belonged. Particularly noticeable is an early image of 'Parvati', housed in a tiny shrine to the northeast of the Lingaraja temple.