A blog discussing life and things in Odisha
Varahi Deula

Maa Varahi Temple of Chaurasi: Obscure and Beautiful

In Chaurasi, Odisha, there is a temple called Varahi Deula which is an ancient Hindu Temple dedicated to Maa Varahi. This temple is situated in Puri district on the eastern coast of Odisha. Amongst all of the temples of Maa Varahi in India, the Varahi temple of Chaurasi is exceptional. The picture enshrined in this temple is regarded to be one of the greatest works found all over India among the images of the deities.

History and Architecture

In the first quarter of the 10th century A.D, this temple was constructed in honour of Varahi, during the Reign of Somavamsha. The temple faces east and is constructed of sandstone. Varahi is considered to be Varaha’s Shakti. Five forms of Varahi, i.e., Svapna Varahi, Canda Varahi, Mahi Varahi (Bhairavi), Kruccha Varahi and Matsya Varahi have been listed in the Tantric text ‘Varahi Tantra.’ Matsya Varahi ‘s explanation closely corresponds to the image enshrined in the temple.

Varahi Deula
courtesy Wikipedia
courtesy Medium.com

The most beautiful monument in the Prachi Valley is the Varahi Temple in Chaurasi. The main temple is similar to the architecture of the Kalinga Kingdom’s Khakhra style. The scale (L x B x H) of the temple area is 15.84 m x 8.23 m x 8.40 m. Varahi is believed to be Varaha’s Shakti. Five forms of Varahi, i.e., Svapna Varahi, canda Varahi, Mahi Varahi (Bhairavi), Krcca Varahi and Matsya Varahi have been listed in the Tantric text ‘Varahi Tantra.’

Matsya Varahi ‘s explanation closely corresponds to the image enshrined in the temple. She has two arms and is seen sitting on a pedestal in Lalitasana. The image holds the face of a boar and the body of a holy woman, following the iconographic canons. A fish is held in her right hand while a Kapala is in her left hand. She held her right foot on her Vahana buffalo, which sits at the bottom of the pedestal. Varahi is depicted with a third eye on her forehead, which is currently not clearly visible. In the shape of spiral coils, her hair is painted. The beauty of this picture lies in her big belly to show that she keeps the world in her womb (Bhugarbha Paranesvari Jagaddhatri).

The deity of learning has been depicted in the niche of the south wall of Ganesa, while the niche of the west wall protects the image of Surya, the deity of light. The niche on the wall to the north is vacant. It most definitely contained an image of some tantric god, that is, Bhairava.

Lord Ganesa belongs to the divine family of Goddess Durga and Varahi is considered to be a form of Durga. In Durga Saptashati, Varahi is evoked for bestowing long life. So Ganesa’s representation as parsva devata is obvious.

On the walls, there are a number of sculptures portraying different deities and other aspects of everyday life. Other notable reliefs found on the temple walls are scenes from Ramayana, such as the killing of the illusory deer, the abduction of Sita, the killing of Jatayu, the uprooting of seven palm trees, the murder of Vali, and the building of a bridge over the sea.

This temple marks a major departure from the regular Rekha and Bhadra type tradition and exhibits a novel design of the Khakhara or Gaurichara variety according to the Odishan nomenclature.

Goddess Matsya Varahi

The temple’s presiding deity is Goddess Varahi, called Matsya Varahi locally. On a cushion set on a simple platform with her right foot resting on the buffalo mount carved on the pedestal, she sits in lalitasana. She is depicted as a pot-bellied goddess with a boar ‘s face. Keeping a fish in her right hand and a bowl in her left hand, she has two sides. A third eye is engraved squarely on her forehead. In accordance with Tantric rites, Barahi is worshipped here. Goddess Varahi has fish on sale every day.

Varahi deula 2
Varahi deula 3
Varahi deula 4
courtesy Kevin Standage Photography, WordPress.com

Basically, Varahi is a Ratri Devi. Otherwise, she is referred to as Dhumra Varahi or Dhumavati. She should be respected only after sunset and before sunrise, according to tantric rituals. The time for Varahi worship is in the middle of the night, according to Parsurama Kalpasutra.

How to Reach Varahi Temple (Chaurasi, Puri)

Varahi Temple is situated in the village of Chaurasi, which is between Nimapada-Kakatpur Road and is 30 kilometres from Konark and 14 kilometres from the village of Kakatpur. Throughout the year, the temple is open to devotees and can be reached via buses and taxis. Nearby attractions are Konark Sun Temple, Kakatpur Village and Kurum in and around Chaurasi.

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