Fascinating Lingaraja temple. largest in Bubaneswar

Lingaraja temple,Bubaneswar.  Wikipedia

Lingaraja (meaning the king of Lingam) Temple is an important land mark in Bubaneswar  city, Odisha and this old temple is dedicated  to Harihara, a form of Shiva and Vishnu. A major tourist attractions of the state, it is the largest temple in Bhubaneswar which has a tall central tower - 180 ft (55 m)  built in  Kalinga Architecture, a form of medieval design tradition followed here.  The temple is believed to have been constructed by the rulers of the Somavamsi dynasty, with later additions from the Ganga rulers. 

Lingaraja temple,Bubaneswar. Ollywoodlife

The style of design followed here is called the Deula  that has four  parts namely, vimana (structure containing the sanctum), jagamohana (assembly hall), natamandira (festival hall) and bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings), each increasing in the height to its predecessor. The temple complex is located in  a spacious courtyard, covering over 250000 sq feet and is bounded by fortified walls and there are as many as 50 shrines in the enclosure. 

Lingaraja temple,Bubaneswar.Silicon Intelligence

Bhubaneswar is known as  Ekamra Kshetra as the deity of Lingaraj was originally under a mango tree (Ekamra) as mentioned in  Ekamra Purana, a 13th-century Sanskrit treatise. The temple is actively following the puja protocols as specified in Agama Sastras pertaining to the worship of combined form of Shiva and Vishnu - Harihara.  Earlier, Shiva was worshiped as Kirtivasa; also referred to as Tribhuvaneshwara or Bhubaneswar. Bubaneswar means  the master of three worlds - heaven, earth and netherworld.His consort is called Bhuvaneshvari. There are 22 worship services available each day. The temple has images of Vishnu which shows the influence of Ganga rulers, the builders of Jagannath temple of Puri.  

Lingaraja temple, being maintained by the Temple Trust Board and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI),  has  a large number of visitors averaging, 6000 plus per day and during major festival times it will swell up to a few lakhs. The major festival is Mahashivaratri that is held with religious fervor and devotion - night dedicated to Bhajans,  prayers and meditation.

top of  Lingaraja temple.,Bubaneswar. Panoramio

It is a pretty old temple dating back to 11th century and some parts of the temple suggest that they were built during the sixth century CE as per some Sanskrit texts. Records suggest that ruler  Lalat Indu Keshari (reign from 615 to 657 CE) initiated the work on the temple. The temple is believed to have been built by the Somavanshi king Yayati I (1025-1040), during the 11th century C.E. Ruler Jajati Keshari shifted his capital from Jajpur to Bhubaneswar which was referred to as Ekamra Kshetra in the Brahma Purana.  The Assembly hall (jagamohana), sanctum and temple tower were built during the eleventh century, whereas  the Hall of offering (bhoga-mandapa) came up  during the twelfth century. As for the natamandira, it was constructed  by the wife of Salini between 1099 and 1104 CE.  At the time of completion of Lingaraj temple, the Puri Jagannath temple was gaining popularity. Hence, the co-existence of Vishnu and Shiva worship at the temple is traceable to that period. Incidentally, the kings of Ganga dynasty were ardent followers of Vaishnavism and built the Jagannath Temple at Puri in the 12th century. The Ganga rulers introduced  changes in the temple, incorporation of  certain Vaishnavite elements like images of Vaishnava Dwarapalas namely Jaya and Prachanda, Jagannatha, Lakshmi Narayan and Garuda were installed. Tulsi leaves, which are favoured by Vishnu, was used along with Bela leaves for the worship of Lingaraj. Lingaraja was thus came to be known as Harihara, a combination of Shiva and Vishnu.Here the lingam is self-manifested - Krutibasa or Swayambhu, just 8 inches above the floor and the diameter is 8 feet.

 The Lingaraja temple faces east wheres there is a main entrance. It is  made of sandstone and laterite.
The image of Lingaraja is anointed (Abhisekam) with water (called mahasnana) several times a day and decorated with flowers, sandal paste and cloth.  Bilva leaves (Aegle marmelos) and tulasi (Ocimum sanctum) are used in daily worship. Offerings of food (made in the temple kitchen) is done in the bhogamandapa (hall of offering) and the lord  is invoked to accept them amidst chanting of mantras by Pundits. Bhang beverage is offered to Lingaraja by some devotees especially on the day of Pana Sankranti (Odia new year).