Bhubaneswar, the 'Cathedral City' was once the capital of an ancient Kalinga kingdom. Bhubaneswar meaning 'The Lord of the Universe' is also the modern capital of Odisha. In Bhubaneswar, Shiva is known as Tribuhuvaneswara or " Lord of the Three Worlds", from which the city derives its name. Bhubaneswar is the place where temple building activities of Odishan style flowered from its very inception to its fullest culmination extending over a period of over one thousand years. There was a time when Bhubaneswar had over 7,000 such shrines. Having merged its intriguing past so uniquely with its modern aspirations, it forms an integral link in the Golden Triangle that incorporates the holy city of Puri and Konark, for the tourists that flock to pay their homage to the religious, cultural and natural wonders that abound here.
History of Bhubaneshwar
The ancient capital of the Kalinga empire, Bhubaneswar's history goes back over 2000 years. "Bhubaneshwar" means the "abode of God" or "master of the universe" and it was also once known as the 'Cathedral of the East', on account of the large number of shrines. At one time, the Bindu Sagar tank was bordered by over 7000 temples. Of these, 500 still survive, all built in the extravagant Odia style.
The findings from the site include the Kushana and imitation Kushana coins, clay “bullae” imitating Roman coins and a unique gold piece having on the obverse a late Kushana motif with legends in characters of the 3rd century A.D. and on the reverse a Roman head with a Roman legend. The earliest group of the extant temples, of which the Parasuramesvara temple is the best preserved, was most probably built during the first quarter of the 7th century A.D. One of the inscriptions on a wall of the jagamahana of the Lingaraja temple records the grant by the Ganga king Anantvarman Chodaganga (A.D. 1078-1150) of a village for the maintenance of a lamp in the temple of Krittivasas (original name of Lingaraja) in A.D. 1114-15, presupposing thereby not only the existence of the Lingaraja temple but Chodaganga’s conquest of Bhubaneswar before that date.
Places of Interest
The 11th century Lingaraja Temple at Bhubaneswar represents the traditional Odishan type of temple in its full maturity. The 147 ft high temple dominated the city landscape. Legend has it that Shiva once told Parvati that he likes Bhubaneshwar more than Benaras. Puzzled Parvati went to inspect the city, as a cowherdess. There two demons (Kritti and Vasa) proposed her for marriage. She put up a condition before them to carry her upon their shoulders, to which they agreed. Parvati sat on their shoulders and crushed them under her weight. Seeing this, Shiva created a lake (Bindu Saras) for her wife and took abode there as Lingaraja.
The 10th century 'Mukteswara' temple with its famous stone arch at the entrance, is regarded a gem of Odishan architecture on account of its exquisite wall carvings and lavish sculptures. These adornment include celestial beings, armed processions, and amorous figures.The front of temple features a beautiful arched epistyle clearly showing a Buddhist influence. Tales from the Panchatantra, written by the Odishan Pandit, Vishnu Sharma, occupy pride of place here.
Raja Rani Temple
The 11th century 'Raja Rani' temple is an architectural delight. It can be said to be the best example of the traditional Orrisan temple designing. Raja Rani is a 'love temple', covered with demurely erotic carvings of women and couples. Set in picturesque surroundings, the temple is famous for its sculptural embellishments as well as for its unusual design of tower and the absence of a deity. The temple is surrounded by well maintained gardens.
The Parasurameswara Temple
The 7th century Shiva Temple, 'Parasurameswara' temple is a classical example of ancient art of temple designing in India. It is a cluster of about 20 small temples. This temple is the best preserved of all Bhubaneswar's ancient temples. The wall embellishments feature amorous couples, lions, crouching elephants, birds, human figures and floral designs.
The 'Svaranajaleswara' temple is not amongst the most preserved temples, but it has very good and interesting Ramayana depictions. It is situated near Parasurameswara temple.The temple looks very elegant and architecturally cogent. The Temple has an unmistakable tantric influence.
Around 20 Km from Bhubeneswar, Nandan Kanan is the largest lion safari park in the country. It is especially known to shelter rare white tigers. A beautiful picnic spot with a natural lake, it has a botanical and a zoological garden. In winters, one can see migratory birds. Generally the tigers and other animals here are not caged and are provided with a natural environment.
Odisha State Museum
A rich collection of sculpture, coins, copper plates, stone inscriptions, armours , rare palm-leaf manuscripts, bronze age tools, natural history, geological objects, paintings, anthropological specimens and traditional folk and musical instruments are displayed in the museum.
A large collection of Odishan handicrafts, among them stone sculpture, patta paintings, brass castings, horn toys and silver filigree are worth seing.
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