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anantashayana vishnu

Anantashayana Vishnu: Largest Rock Cut Structure of Vishnu in Odisha

Odisha is home to a large number of temples in the country which exude a majestic richness. There are a vast number of temples which are unexplored till now. These are not so famous but have a great historical importance. One of them is Anantashayana Vishnu Temple. 

Situated in the small village of Sendhagram, Sarang, 3 km north of Talcher and 28 km from Angul, this enormous natural sandstone sculpture of Lord Vishnu in a resting position is Lord Vishnu’s second biggest idol in India. It is believed to have been constructed around the 8th -9th Century AD. and measures 51 ft in length.

This piece of art by an anonymous sculptor lies in an open environment along the banks of river Brahmani. Anantashayana Vishnu is located on the left bank of the Brahmani River at Saranga village in the district Dhenkanal. 

The words Anantashayi Vishnu and Anantashayana Vishnu used to represent this particular representation of the Creator and Preserver in the Hindu mythology of divinity directly translates into “Vishnu sleeping on a Shesha serpent.” The Shesha Naga or the Shesha serpent is a mythological figure and is considered to be the Lord Vishnu ‘s preferred carrier or abode. It is headed seven and maintains the universe on its hoods, while continually singing Lord Vishnu ‘s praises from each of its mouths. 

Statue face
courtesy Nikoznate (Tumblr)
Anantashayana Vishnu
courtesy Udayan Sarathi (Twitter)

The structure is a large open air rock-cut Image of the Hindu God Vishnu. It was sculpted early in the 9th century. After the largest standing image of Gomateshwara in Southern India this is the largest exposed rock-cut structure in horizontal position in all of India.

This open air rock-cut image was built by the Nandod Bahav feudatory rulers under the Bhaumakara kings, who were followers of Vaishnavism. It is also proclaimed that this carved sculpture was inspired with a deep expression of “vigour and vitality”.

The Vishnu structure covers a total area of 15.4 meters in length and 7 meters in width with a thickness of 0.7 metres. The image of Vishnu is sculpted from sandstone formation.

He has four arms where his upper right hand holds a Chakra,  his upper left left hand holds a Shankha, his lower left hand holds a Gada and a representational lotus. The Shesha (Ananta) serpent hoods cover Vishnu ‘s shoulders. The image of Vishnu has a pointed chin, prominent nose, and on its head wears a crown called kiritamukuta-a tall triangular crown usually worn by Vishnu. The creator god Brahma, sits in meditation on a lotus pattern seen sprouting from his navel.

Statue (another angle)
courtesy srk_surya_ (Instagram)

The shrine is frequently worshipped by the locals. The representation of Anantashayana Vishnu is so strong in the idolatry of this Hindu shrine that it instigates primitive devotion among the tourists.

The only threat to the structure are floods in the Brahmani River, as this is formed by sandstone in the bed of the river, & it may erode.

How to Reach  

By Road : It is accessible by road over a distance of 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) from Saranga Village in Parajanga Tehsil of Dhenkanal district, 67 kilometres (42 mi) from Dhenkanal, 23 km from Angul and 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from Talcher. 

By Air: The closest Airport is Bhubaneswar from where you can book a train/cab/bus to Angul. 

By Train: The closest railway station is Angul

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