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Bhubaneswar ~ A Temple Town

September 5, 2012 9 comments

Bhubaneswar ~ A Temple Town

~ A Compilation of Temples of Bhubaneswar ~

According to legend the city once housed a thousand temples, sadly many of these have crumbled to dust and many more have been reconstructed into modern structures, but the few have survived the test time and still stands to this day are worth a visit and can offer an interesting mix of pilgrimage and history.

Bhubaneswar (Temple Town) Map

Bhubaneswar (Temple Town) Map

The temples of Bhubaneswar are located on the Southern part, which is known as the old city and are majority of them are clustered around the Bindu Sarabor (Lake).

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Rajarani Temple ~ Oriya gem not quiet Oriya

Rajarani Temple

~ Oriya Temple not quiet Oriya ~

Also see my compilation of Bhubaneswar Temples

Rajarani is considered as one of the finest temples of not only of Bhubaneswar but also of entire Orissa. Strangely the temple architecture of Orissa differs significantly from the traditional Oriya Temple Architecture.

Rajarani Temple, Bhubaneswar, Orissa

Rajarani Temple, Bhubaneswar, Orissa

There are certain parameters that make Rajrani different from the other Oriya Temples. The parameters are:

  • Origin of the Name
  • Shape of the Spire
  • Rigged inner sanctum
  • Presence of female figurine

Origin of the Name Rajarani

Longitudunal cross - section (above) and floor plan (below) of Raja - Rani Temple, Bhubaneswar (Sketch courtsy: Narayan Sanyal)

Sectional digram (Sketch courtesy: Narayan Sanyal)

Apart from Lingraj, the names of the Shive Temples of Bhubaneswar ends with an “Eshwar” like Mukteshwar, Parsurameshwar, Sideshwar, Rameshwar, Brahmeshwar etc. While the Shakti and Bishnu temples are named after the respective Gods and Goddesses, like Vaital, Gouri, Anantabasudev, etc. Strangely Rajarani follows neither of the two.

With the absence of dedicatory plaque nothing is known about the date of construction or the name of the creator off Rajarani Temple, and historians are totally in the dark.

Rajarani happens to be an abandoned temple, with an empty inner sanctum. Some historian opine that the temple was never established while others suggest that it was abandoned at a later date.

The Rajarani name probably originated from the reddish Rajarani sandstone by which the temple is constructed. Incidentally Rajarani is the only temple in Orissa which is constructed by the reddish Rajarani sandstone. The other temples of Orissa are made of the conventional yellowish sandstone.

Shape of Rajarani’s Spire

The spires of Oriya temple consists of a single spire, with horizontal ridge lines, known as rekh.

Left to right: Sectional digram of different spires, photo of Rajarani spire, horizental cross section of Rajarani spire

Left to right: Sectional digram of different spires (Kalinga, Khajuraho & Rajarani), photo of Rajarani spire, horizontal cross section of base of Rajarani spire (Sketch Courtesy: Narayan Sanyal)

The spire of Rajarani Temple doesn’t follow the conventional Oriya rekh style, in fact it has remarkable reassemble with the spires of Khajuraho Temples. The spire of Rajarani Temple consists of a central spire flanked by 32 smaller spires arrange in two different stages. The inner stage contains 8 minor spires and the outer stage contains 24 minor spires.

Rigged Inner Sanctum of Rajarani

Although the outer walls of Oriya temples have projections, known as rath but inner plan of the Jagmohan and Garbagriha (inner sanctum) are rectangles or squares with straight walls.

Floor plan of Biman (Left: rigged interior of Raja Rani, Right: plane interior of typical Oriya Temple)

Floor plan of Biman (Left: rigged interior of Rajarani, Right: plane interior of typical Oriya Temple) (Sketch Courtesy: Narayan Sanyal)

Strangely both the Jagmohan and Garbagriha (inner sanctum) of Rajarani Temple are not rectangles or squares with straight walls but have projections similar to those of the outer walls. This again is not only a dissimilarity with the Oriya style but also a similarity with the Khujuraho style.

Presence of female figurines in Rajarani

Although female figurines are not uncommon on the outer walls of Oriya temples but the female figurines of Rajrani Temples differs considerably.

Female Figurines, Raja - Rani Temple, Bhubaneswar

Intricate sculptures Rajarani Temple, Bhubaneswar

The slender looking female figures in different posture have a remarkable resembles with those of Khajuraho.

Conclusion

So was it some Khajuraho princes, married to a Kalinga monarch, inspired the construction of the Oriya gem? with no concrete evidences the historians are still in the dark.

Reference:

  • Karutirthe Kalinga by Narayan Sanyal
  • Barthiya Bhaskarje  Mithun by Narayan Sanyal

Related links from my website:

Also see my compilation of Bhubaneswar Temples and my list of Blog entries on Orissa