Odisha Style: Introduction

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.

intro 01 shatru e7

 

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.

intro 02 parashu m7

 

Mukteshwar Temple (late-10th c) is considered the ‘transitional’ example between the early and mature stages of this style. It is the first temple with the ‘Pidha Deul’ type mandap, with a square base and stepped pyramidal roof, which is an important element of the later Odia style.
intro 13 muktesh l10

 

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.

intro 15 siddhesh e11

 

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.

intro 18 linga l11

 

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.

intro 24 sari 13
intro 25 anant l13

3 thoughts on “Odisha Style: Introduction

    • I mostly used George Michell’s “Monuments of India” for this post. You could see Adam Hardy’s “The Temple Architecture of India”, and ‘old but gold’ books: Stella Kramrisch’s “The Hindu Temple” and Percy Brown’s “Indian Architecture”. These are all books from an architectural history perspective. I haven’t looked for works on Odia architecture specifically – you’ll have to do some digging for that!

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