Mukteswar: A Temple of Salvation




Mukteswar Temple has been dubbed the ‘gem of Kalinga architecture’

Situated in the garden of 'celestial beings' the very name Mukteswar or the temple of salvation sounds divine! Tucked away in a small lane in Bhubaneswar in Odisha, are a clutch of temples that date all the way back to the 10th century. Within this complex is a relatively small, yet spectacular temple that has captured the imagination of generations. The Mukteswar temple is a Shiva temple, where Shiva is in the form of Mukta, the Lord of the salvation.While the temple complex is now surrounded by residential buildings, it was originally located in a mango grove called Siddharanya- the grove of celestial beings or Siddhas.

The Siddhesvara temple is a part of the Mukteswar temple complex
The Siddhesvara temple is a part of the Mukteswar temple complex|LHI Team

According to noted historian KC Panigrahi, the temple is believed to have been built in the reign of Yayati I of the Somavamsi dynasty who controlled large parts of Odisha, between 950-975 CE. It has been dubbed the 'gem of Kalinga architecture'. What sets this temple apart from the other well known ones in the complex - the Lingaraja, Rajarani, Parsuramesvara and Bhrameswar temples, is that it was a trendsetter of its time. The architecture of the Mukteswar temple has been inspired by Buddhist styles.



The <i>makara torana </i>or archway
The makara torana or archway|LHI Team

Mukteswar Temple was a trendsetter of its time

The most eye catching is the splendid and elaborately carved makara torana (archway), which is not part of any other temple in the region. Earlier, this kind of torana was never seen in Hindu temples, but only at the entrance of Buddhist stupas such as at Sanchi. This shows how the Buddhist and Hindu architecture styles were deriving influences from each other.

Beautiful carvings on the walls of the temple
Beautiful carvings on the walls of the temple|LHI Team

The walls of the Mukteswar temple are also carved with detailed and exquisite sculptures of beautiful women, nagas and naginis with human upper bodies and skeletal looking ascetics in deep meditation, believed to be praying for Mukti (salvation).

The temple complex also houses the unfinished Siddhesvara temple and the Marichi Kund. According to local folklore, bathing in the waters of this kund (reservoir) could cure infertility in women. Hence, this water is considered so holy that it is used to wash the chariot for the famed Rath Yatra of Jagannath and is even auctioned on the occasion of Ashokastami (Festival dedicated to Lord Shiva) in April. The bids go as high as Rs. 21000 for the first pot!


LHI TRAVEL GUIDE

Mukteshwar temple is located in Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha. The nearest railway station is Bhubanswar railway junction which is only 5 kms away from the temple. The nearest airport to the temple is Biju Patnaik International airport, Bhubaneshwar, also at a distance of 5 kms.e

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