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The Lingaraja Temple

The great Lingaraja temple, believed to have been built around 1000 A.D., is a product of this revivalist movement  in Orissan architecture and has been acclaimed by many as the finest example of a Hindu temple in India. It stands in a cluster of sixty-five smaller shrines in a spacious compound measuring 520 feet by 465 feet and its mighty tower (the vimana, see also: the parts of a temple) dominates the landscape for miles around. Constructed without mortar, this tower is 127 feet high and is divided into vertical sections. The angles of the recesses are filled in with miniature vimanas and on the top, are figures representing a lion crushing an elephant. The vimana is hollow and consists of several superimposed chambers accessible by a stairway built through the wall, which is seven feet thick. The temple as originally designed, consisted of the vimana, called Sri Mandir locally, where the image of Tribhubaneswar (the Lord of the three worlds) popularly called Lingaraja  is housed,  and the jagamohan or the entrance porch to the inner chamber. In the garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum)  is enshrined the swayambhu linga, or self-established Linga, the symbol of Lord Shiva. The natyamandir or dance hall, and the bhogmandir were probably added a century or so later, although they are in perfect harmony with the architectural scheme as a whole. The interiors of these halls are, generally speaking, devoid of all ornament, but -the outer walls of the building are lavishly carved and embellished with sculptures which are among the best specimens of Orissan decorative art. Although the pilaster decoration presents an effect of exuberance and luxury, particularly in the case of the human figures, there is little of the florid extravagance which characterizes some of the southern temples. Among the other notable temples in the neighborhood are those of Bhagavati, Parvati, Ananta, Basudeva, Brahmeshwar, Bhaskareshwar, and Kedareshwar

See Also:

  • Temples of India -- Detailed discussion on the history, and stylistics of some of the great temples of India.
  • Indian Architecture - 5000 Years -- Detailed discussion of styles and schools of Indian architecture over the last five thousand years.

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