Odisha Style: Madhukeshwar Temple at Mukhalingam

Near the northern tip of Andhra Pradesh is the small town of Mukhalingam, which once was the location of Kalinganagara, the capital of the early Eastern Ganga rulers. What remains of this capital are two temples from the 8th c and one from the 10th c, all built in the early Odia style. The Madhukeshwar Temple, one of the 8th c temples, is the largest of the three. It is set in a walled compound, with subsidiary shrines at each corner of the compound.

The temple mandap is rectangular like other early Odia temples, but does not follow the typical style of the Parashurameshwar temple mandap at Bhubaneswar. Instead, it is similar to the mandap of the Vaital Deul temple (late-8th c), with each corner occupied by small shrines.

While the mandap’s outer walls are covered with sculpture, the main sanctum tower is relatively plain and bare. The difference in the treatment of the mandap and sanctum exterior is so stark that I’m tempted to think that the sanctum as it exists is a later addition, and that there was once an original sanctum that corresponded more to the sanctum structure of the Vaital Deul temple. Also, in the Madhukeshwar temple, the first entry gateway to the compound, the main doorway of the mandap, as well as shrines located along the enclosure walls are all topped with three small amalakas, just like the rectangular sanctum tower of Vaital Deul. So I really wonder if Madhukeshwar once had a rectangular sanctum and Khakhara Deul style tower, similar to Vaital Deul, instead of the plain tower it has now! Of course this is pure speculation, and I haven’t gone deep enough into the study of these temples to do anything other than speculate, but I find it an interesting stylistic issue.

 

Street in front of Madhukeshwar temple – downtown Mukhalingam

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View of Madhukeshwar from the street

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First gateway (with three small amalakas on top)

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Second gateway

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Corner shrines from outside the inner enclosure

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Corner shrine and main tower

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These elongated shrines along all three walls (south, west and north) of the enclosure all have the three small amalakas pattern

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Mandap front (east) entrance

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South side

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The contrast between the treatment of the mandap and sanctum/tower exterior is stark

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Southeast corner shrine

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Shrine along the south wall

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Southwest corner shrine

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North side

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Northwest corner shrine

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Northeast corner and adjacent shrine

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Madhukeshwar from the southwest corner

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