I traveled to Odisha in December 2017 to visit the temples in and around Bhubaneswar that together form the distinct Odia style of temple architecture. One of the main aims was to experience first hand this unique phenomenon in Indian architectural history, of having a relatively close group of monuments not just represent but almost entirely encompass one of the important stylistic traditions of Hindu temple design, stretching from the 7th c AD till the 13th c. In fact the entire stylistic development of Odia temple architecture can be traced using just the Bhubaneswar temples. Outside Bhubaneswar I also went to the famous temples at Konark and Puri, the less famous ones at Chaurasi and Simhanath, and to Mukhalingam in northern Andhra Pradesh. There are of course many ‘less prominent’ examples of Odia temple architecture that I did not visit.
I’ve added photos of a few of the Bhubaneswar temples below, to show very very quickly the stylistic development of Odia temple architecture. Subsequent posts will cover these temples/complexes chronologically. Many of these temples are located in Old Town Bhubaneswar, around and to the south of the Bindu Sagar tank. This Old Town is one of those (many) urban areas in India that has immense potential for development as a heritage neighborhood.
Most of the information for the Odisha temples set of posts has been taken from George Michell’s “Monuments of India (Volume 1)”.
Shatrughaneshwar Temple (early-7th c AD) is one of the earliest examples of the Odia style, even though in its present form it is heavily reconstructed. It has no mandap, consisting of only a tower over a square sanctuary.
Parasurameshwar Temple (mid-7th c) has a tower (Rekha Deul) similar to Shatrughaneshwar, but with a mandap added a little later. This rectangular mandap type, with a two-tier-roof, was common in earlier Odia temples.
Siddheshwar Temple (early-11th c), located next to Mukteshwar, has the familiar silhouette of the mature Odia style, with a tall Rekha Deul that goes up straight from its square sanctum and curves gently nearer the top, and pyramidal-roofed Pidha Deul.
Lingaraja Temple is the largest of the Bhubaneswar temples. The large sanctum tower (Rekha Deul) and adjoining mandap (Pidha Deul) are from the late-11th c, with the other mandaps and shrines in the complex added later.
Two later examples: Sari Temple from the 13th c, and below it the Ananta Vasudeva Temple from the late-13th c. The second temple has multiple mandaps.