Odisha, an Eastern state of India, is a land of breathtaking landscapes, magnificent temples and lakes. Some of the most famous temples such as the Sun Temple at Konark and Jagannath Temple at Puri are found at Odisha. Located in Bhubaneswar, Mukteshvara Mandir is one of the oldest temples in the capital city of Odisha.
After our visit to Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves, we visited the famous 11th-century temple — Lingaraj Temple and worshipped there, we moved towards the ancient Mukteshvara Temple. Mukteshvara means “Lord of Freedom”. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Located in the capital city Bhubaneswar, the Mukteshvara Temple is a regal monument that dates back to the 9th-10th century CE.
Mukteswar temple is literally a dream realised in sandstone. The temple is said to be the structure, where sculpture and architecture are in synchronisation with one another. The Mukteshvara Temple is the finest example of a perfect blend between sculpting and architecture.
The stylistic development the Mukteshvara marks the culmination of all earlier developments, and initiates a period of experiment which continues for an entire century, as seen in such temples as the Rajarani Temple and Lingaraj temple, both located in Bhubaneswar.
The structure of temple represents the transition point between the initial and later phases of the Kalinga School of Temple Architecture. Even though, the temple spire rises only to the height of 35 feet, yet the plethora of sculptural work makes it all the more fascinating. The temple is not colossal in its size that became the regular feature in the later ages.
It is speculated that the temple was built by Yayati I (c. 922-955 CE), the son of Janmejaya of the Somavamshi Dynasty (9th-12th century CE). The west-facing structure of this temple reflects a change in the initial and later phase of Kalinga style of architecture, which was the main style used in many temples built in Odisha during the time.
The pyramidal roof of the temple’s Jagamohana or the assembly hall, is first of its kind. Everything about the temple, that is its sanctum, the temple plan, the porch, reflect top-class architectural brilliance.
The torana or the elaborately decorated arch is the main feature of this temple. It reflects heavy influences from Buddhist architecture. The archway or torana has exquisite carvings of ornaments, beautiful women and other such intricate designs. The Mukteshvara Temple is also known as the “Gem of Kalinga Architecture” and due to this fact, Mukteshvara temple came to be known as “harbinger of the new culture”.
One more interesting feature about the temple is that it has got a well in its eastern part. It is believed that a dip in this holy well cures the problem of infertility.
After visiting the Mukteshvara temple, we prayed at the Kedara-Parvati temple just across the road. This is also another temple with around a thousand years of heritage. After that we drove down to see the “Edicts of Ashoka” at Dhauli hill, attributed to Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan Empire who reigned from 268 BCE to 232 BCE.
Dhauli hill or Dhauligiri is presumed to be the area where the Kalinga War was fought, which ended circa 262 BCE. There is the Shanti Stupa or Peace Pagoda on the top of Dhauligiri. This stupa can be seen from the Bhubaneswar-Puri Highway.