Temple Architecture

The Temple Architecture

Jagannath TempleArchitecture in Odisha found its supreme expression in the form of temples, some of which are among, finest in the country. Of these, three are most famous the Lingaraja temple at Bhubaneswar (11th century), the Jagannath Temple at Puri (12th century) and the great Sun Temple at Konark (13th century). These mark the culmination of a distinct style of architecture called the Kalinga style remarkable in its plan elevation and details of decoration. In the simplest form, a temple of this style consists of a structural due, the main temple or shrine and the frontal porch. Jagannath TempleWhile the main temple, called Vimana or Deula, is the sanctum enshrining the deity the porch or assembly hall called Jagamohana is the place for the congregation of devotees. The former, constructed on a square base, has a soaring curvilinear tower (sikhara) and is known as rekha deula. The laatter built on a rectangular base is a pidha temple, i.e. its roof consists of pidhas which are horizontal platforms arranged successively iii a receding formation so as to constitute a pyramidal superstructure.- Although the two temples are architecturally different, they are constructed in axial alignment and interconnected so as to form an integral pattern.

This two-part structure in the earliest form of temple construction is noticeable in the Parsurameswar temple of Bhubaneswar  (7th century).  A modest specimen of the Bhubaneswar-Lakshmaneswar group of early temples, it has a squattish type of curvilinear sikhara and an oblong pillared jagamohana. Lingaraja TempleThe scupltures on the temple walls are also notable for their simplicity and beauty. The Kalinga style  reached its perfection during the Ganea period when two more structures were added the front of the two-part temple in order to meet the needs of the elaborate rituals; these are the natamandira (dancing hall) and the bhogamandapa (hall of offerings). The four halls of structure as at Lingaraja and Jagannatha, stand in one line with emphasis on the towering sikhara of the main shrine. However, the devotees have to enter through the side doors of the jagamohana leaving the tamandira and bhogamandapa behind.

Temple building activities in Odisha continued uninterrupted between the 7th and 16th centuries. As different religious sects had their successive sway over the land during this period, they provided the necessary fillip for modifications in the architectural designs and sculptural details. The Vaital temple at Bhubaneswar and the Varahi temple at Chaurasi in the Prachi Valley with their semicylindrical roofs are examples of a different order of temples described as E(hakhara type in the shiIpasastras. The former with its tower resembling a topsy-turvied boat and the later with its barrel-vaulted top are dedicated to the goddess Chamunda and Varahi respectively. The silhouetted interior of the sanctum and the sculptural motifs in the niches of the temples bear the influence of Shakti cult.

There is yet another class of temples which are almost unique in their conception and execution in the whole country; these are the circular shaped, hypaethral or roofless structures dedicated to the sixty-four yoginis belonging to the Tantric order. Out of all the five shrines of yogini worship existing in the whole country, two are situated in Odisha, the Chausathi Yogini temples one at Hirapur near Bhubancswar and the other at Ranipur-Jharial in Titlagarh subdivision of Balangir district. At the center of these temples is pedestalled  the  image  of   Bhairava  around  which  are located the yoginis, each in a niche. The artistic figures of the yoginis, their hair style varying totally in case of each at Hirapur, are superb in execution.

However, the Kalinga style of architecture which was the most common order throughout progressed well under the patronage of the Somavamsi Kings of Odisha during the 10th and 11th centuries. Mukteswar TempleThe Mukteswar temple (10th century) of Bhubaneswar is considered a "gem of Odisha architecture" and is accepted as one of the most beautiful temples of India. Elegantly decorated from top to bottom, it stands within a gracefully laid out compound with an exquisite makara torana in front. The rekha sikhara and rhythmic in treatment, is unrivalled in beauty. The Jagmohana is a harmonious pidha deula crowned with a kalasa at the top. The Rajarani temple (11th century) owing its name to a type of stone known as 'rajarania' is an architectural specimen of the later Somavamsi period. Picturesquely set amidst a wide expanse of rice fields, this temple in its execution combines grace and elegance, beauty of form and sculptural embellishments The deula, adorned with a cluster of miniature temples is reminiscent of Khajuraho. The Brahmeswar temple (11th century) characteristic continuation of the Drissan style. Rajarani Temple The great temple of Lingaraja (11th century) at Bhubaneswar is the quintessence of Odisha architecture With all the features of temple architecture fully developed and perfectly executed, it is undoubted one of the most finished temples in India. The eladorate temple complex consisting of the lowering sikhara (45 m. in height), jagamohana, natamandira and bhogamandap all in perfact harmony along with the lesser shrines around has a unique grander and majesty. There are a very large number of temples of different order in Bhbaneswar which may be called a veritable museum of temples.

The temple of Jagannatha at Puri is the earliest Ganga monument of Odisha .The massive edifice standing on a high platform connected with the ground led by a flight of 22 steps is the product of accumulated experience of the past temple architecture. The whole of the main temple was covered by a thick consisting of plaster, which earned for it the name 'White Pagoda'. The plaster has since been removed by the Archaeological Survey of India to reveal the beautiful stone carvings.

Finest specimen of Ganga art and the greatest monument of Hindu architect in India is the famous Sun Temple of Konark which is conceived as a chart driven by horses. The chariot had twenty-four wheels and seven horses. The wheel of the chariot are masterpieces of art. The temple is perfectly proportioned in stupendous size. It is one of the wonders of workmanship in the wood. In the words of Rabindranath Tagore, "Here the language of man is defeated by the language of stone".
 

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Last Updated on 18th May 2013
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