Enticing Baitala Deuḷa Temple, Goddess Chamunda, Bhubaneswar

Baitala Deuḷa Temple,Goddess Chamunda,Bhubaneswar.hindudevotionalblog.com

Like Tamil Nadu or Andhra, Odisha is a land of countless temples, many of them are dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, and Kali or Durga. Some temples are extremely ornate and have artistically carved outer walls with occasional erotic miniature sculptures. There are three types of architecture noticeable in Orissa. They are Khakhara Deula, Rekha Deula, and Pidha or Bhadra Deula. Among them,
 the Khakhara  Deula altogether follows a different style of  architecture, reminiscent of closely appearing the  Dravidian  Gopuram (tower)  design. The word is derived from kakharu (pumpkin, gourd) as the crown looks like a barrel-vaulted elongated roof. The Sakta (Sakthi) temples  are  generally  of
Khakhara order.
Baitala Deuḷa Temple,Goddess Chamunda,Bhubaneswar. Flickr

Vaital Deul Hindu Temple, one of the oldest ones (late 8th century)is dedicated to Goddess Chamunda and is in Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Orissa, India. This typical Khakara temple is also locally known as "Tini Mundia Mandira" and its unique feature is the shape of its sanctuary tower. The khakhra temple commonly has a typical semi-cylindrical shaped roof and in a way shows  similarity with those Dravidian styled temples of South India with particular reference to gopurams/towers. 

The plan of the deul (shrine) is oblong and the Jagamohana (pyramidal roof with the platforms receding in size) is a rectangular structure. Embedded in each angle is a small subsidiary shrine which enhances the artistic beauty of this temple. Vaital Deul has amazing relief figures that have delicate features marked by delicacy and perfect equipoise. Other exciting features worth of mention are the temple outer walls are adorned with well-planned panels of Hindu deities. These include mostly Shiva and his consort Parvati in her Shakti form, processions on a  hunting mission, capturing of wild elephants, etc. There are occasional small carvings of erotic couples.
Baitala Deuḷa Temple,Goddess Chamunda,BhubaneswarWikiwand
 Two chaitya windows dominate the front of the deul above the left of the jagamohana - the lower one has a carved figure of sun god Surya with Usha (Dawn) and Pratyusha shooting arrows on either side while Aruna in front driving a chariot of seven horses. We have commonly come across this kind of representation of  Sun God Surya in many Hindu textbooks.

The panel in the upper Chaitya-window houses a 10-armed Nataraja or dancing Shiva. There are two Buddha-like figures seated in dharma-chakra-pravartana  on a stone post in front of the flat roofed jagamohana.

Many features of the presiding deity here show certain distinct characteristics of the Tantrik type of worship, which is unusual. The striking feature is the ferocious-looking figure of goddess Durga with eight arms (Chamunda) in the Gurbagraha - sanctum and is enshrined in the central niche. Locally, the goddess goes by the name of Kapalini and, hence, this one is a shakti shrine. The tantric aspects are revealed further by the appearanceof the presiding deity. Here, the main deity Chamunda or Mahishasuramardini sits on a corpse f bordered by a jackal and an owl. She wears a garland of skulls and holds a snake, bow, shield, sword, trident, thunderbolt and an arrow, piercing the neck of the demon. The niche is capped by a chaitya window containing seated figures of Shiva and Parvati.

The Chamunda is circled by a host of other smaller size carvings of demi-gods in the lower parts of the walls, each within a niche separated by a pilaster. The figure on the east wall, to the fight of the door, is A skeleton form of Bhairava forms the counterpart of Chamunda on the east wall.

On the north wall also one could see the tantric aspects such as a skull-cup with the blood of a person whose severed head lies on the right. On the pedestal is an offering of two more heads on a tray resting on a tripod, flanked by a jackal feasting on the decapitated body on the right and a woman holding a severed head on the left.

 The stone post also exhibits the tantric character of the temple where sacrificial offerings were chained/tied, just in front of the jagamohana. The interior parts are dark after sunset and one needs  an artificial light to see the minute features which may be visible during the day.