Temples of Odisha: Notes on Ancient Temples of Odisha!
The temples of Odisha, dating from the 8th to about mid-13th century, provide a study in one of the earliest movements in the Indo-Aryan style of architecture.
In Bhubaneswar, several sanctuaries were erected so that taken together they form a city of temples.
Outstanding is the great Lingaraja temple dedicated to Shiva as the Lord of the Lingam.
The parabolic curve of the shikhara over the sanctum is a striking specimen of the style. The temple is built as a series of four halls—for offerings, dance, assembly and sanctuary.
A smaller but particularly lovely shrine also located at Bhubaneswar is the Mukteswara temple, frequently called the ‘gem’ of Odishan architecture. The importance of the temple lies not only in its beauty and architectural perfection, but in its position as a watershed in the development of Odishan architecture, marking the transition between the ‘early’ and ‘late’ developments of the style.
The Sun Temple at Konark, not far from Puri, also known as ‘Black Pagoda’, is the last and perhaps the most remarkable of all the great Hindu temples of northern India. It represents the climax of the efforts of the Odishan sculptors to harmonise decorative sculpture with the architectural ensemble in all its glory and magnificence.
Erected by King Narasimha Deva (AD 1238-64) the temple was designed to resemble the Sun- god’s celestial chariot borne on immense wheels and drawn by richly caparisoned horses.
The basement platform as well as the facades of the hall proper are covered with sculptured friezes reflecting the joy of life on earth and the energising power of the sun—Arka—the giver-of-all-life. Among the scenes portrayed at Konarak are the loving couples or mithunas.
Although produced in great numbers by anonymous craftsmen, these carvings are among the masterpieces of Indian art, indicating the high level of both technical performance and artistic inspiration which must have existed at that time. The temple was left unfinished and now lies in ruins.
The temple of Jagannatha at Puri and the Raja Rani temple are other masterpieces of the architecture style.
Temples of Odisha generally have no pillars, and the roof was partly supported by iron girders—a striking technical innovation. There is lavish exterior decoration, though the interiors are left unadorned (except at the Mukteshwar shrine).