Lingaraja Mandir, Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneshwar the capital of Orissa is a city of temples, several of which are important from an architectural standpoint. The Lingaraj temple - the largest of these is about a thousand years old. Bhubaneshwar, Konarak and Puri constitute the Golden triangle of Orissa, visited in large numbers by pilgrims and tourists.

This 180 feet high grand temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is considered to be the finest example of purely Hindu style of temple architecture. The Lingaraj Temple has a jagamohana, natamandir, bhogamandapa and is surrounded by a massive 7 feet thick wall. The temple's spacious courtyard is filled with more than 100 shrines. The sculptures in this temple date back to 1014 AD to the Somavamsis. Inscriptions from the period of the Kalinga King Anangabhima III from the 13th century are also seen in the temple.

Lingaraja Mandir - the great temple of Bhubaneswar. From the 8th to the 13th century more than 2000 temples were built around Bhubaneswar. Today, about 500 remain but only a fraction of these are of great interest.

According to a custom, pilgrims who wish to go to the Jagannath temple at Puri, must first offer worship at the Lingaraja temple. Bhubaneshwar is also a revered pilgrimage center, referred to in the Bhrama Purana. The Bhrama Purana refers to Bhubaneshwar as the Ekamra Kshetra enshrining a crore Shiva Lingas.

The Lingaraja temple is said to have been built first by the ruler Yayati Kesari in the 7th century who shifted his capital from Jaipur to Bhubaneshwar. Bhubaneshwar remained as the Kesari capital, till Nripati Kesari founded Cuttck in the 10th century. Inscriptions from the period of the Kalinga King Anangabhima III from the 13th century are seen here.

Structurally, the Parasurameswara temple at Bhubaneshwar is the oldest, dating back to the middle of the 8th century, and the Lingaraja is temple is assigned to the 10th century. The nata mandir and the bhog mandir of the Lingaraja temple are of later origin.

Legend has it that Shiva revealed to Parvati that Bhubaneshwar - or Ekamra thirtha was a resort favoured by him over Benares. Parvati in the guise of a cowherd woman, decided to look at the city herself. Two demons Kritti and Vasa desired to marry her. She requested them to carry her upon their shoulders, and crushed them under her weight. Shiva, then created the Bindu Saras lake to quench her thirt, and took abode here as Krittivasas or Lingaraja.

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