Continuing our temple tour of Bhubaneswar, our next destination was the biggest of them all, the Lingaraj Temple. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Lingaraj Temple is one of the big temple complexes in India. It is the iconic temple of Bhubaneswar and the most important one on the list.
The striking Vimana
Even before you enter the temple, the first thing that grabs your attention is the 180 feet high Vimana, what a striking structure it is !
Unfortunately, one has to store all their memories in their minds because cameras are not allowed inside the temple. How we would have loved to capture pictures of the temple ! The disappointment aside, as you enter the temple, you cannot take your eyes off the Vimana. Built in the typical Kalinga architectural style, the tower dominates the skyline of the area, beating even the modern buildings.
The Lingaraj Temple was built during the Suryavanshi dynasty of the 11th Century and is more than 1000 years old. When you look at these 1000 year old temples, each one massive beyond imagination, you wonder what was with these kings and people of yore and their fancy for such huge temples?
The presiding deity of Lingaraj Temple is worshipped as HariHara, though essentially a Shiva Linga, HariHara is a combination of the names of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
The Sanctum Sanctorum is spacious with a tiny Shiva Linga on the ground. As we entered, we were hurriedly ordered by the priests (a little rudely !) to offer Bilva leaves, say our Gotra, touch the Shiva Linga, pray and give the priests some money as offering ! There are people performing Abhishekams and other puja, there is too much activity inside with priests chanting mantras, surrounded by chaos and crowd. Not exactly a very peaceful environment, yet, it is all about different experiences and each of those experiences are fun and have a beauty of their own.
Outside the Garbha Griha, it is exactly the opposite. The sprawling temple complex is full of smaller temples and shrines, there is calm and peace that touches your spiritual side.
The priest in one of the temples told us there were 108 small temples inside the Lingaraj Temple complex. We did not count them but whichever side we turned, we found ourselves surrounded by temples. Each of these temples abounded in amazing sculpture and carvings. Standing above all was the main Vimana, a sight to behold !
One wonders what gives these ancient temples that charm, the jaded stones only add to the effect. We stood on a platform behind the Vimana, with those timeless beauties of temples on all sides and we just stood there gazing at the view, lost in time. It was so overwhelming, we remember our eyes going moist, the moment is etched in our memories.
We spent about an hour walking around the temple and finally made an exit, not before clicking a picture of the Vimana from the busy road outside the temple, not a great view but the only one we could manage ! For more pictures and information, check the internet.
Go visit the Lingaraj temple for breathtaking architecture, chaotic yet colourful religious experience and lose yourself amidst s complex full of magnificent temples !
It was time for us to move on to the next point on Odisha’s Golden Triangle – Konark.
– The temple is open from 6 AM to noon time and from 3.30 PM to 9 PM.
– Be wary of the priests, they seemed slightly rude and a little demanding of offerings, they are harmless though. But do not let that spoil your experience, it is part of the fun !
– There are several ancient temples in Bhubaneswar that are worth a visit and you would need atleast 2 full days to visit all of them. Check the internet for the list of temples and make a list of those you want to visit and plan your trip accordingly. One could hire an cab or an autorickshaw to visit all the temples as they are all located within the city.