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Mukteshwar Temple: Small and yet Significant

The Mukteshwar temple, situated in the capital city of Bhubaneswar, is a magnificent temple dedicated to lord Shiva. Well-known as the “Gem Of Odisha Architecture”, the Mukteshwar Temple is a regal monument that dates back to the 10th century AD. This distinctive temple is one of the smallest and compact temples of Odisha. 

The  Mukteshwar temple is the greatest example of a great combination of sculpture and architecture.Several shrines or lingam of Lord Shiva can be found in the temple. Various sculptures of ascetics forming different meditation poses can be found all around the temple.

The Muktesvara temple is a unique one in the field of Kalinga temple architecture. It is elegantly designed & is one of the most beautiful temples of India.

Architecture Of The Mukteshwar Temple

It is speculated that the temple was built by Yayati I, the king of Somvanshi Dynasty. This temple’s west-facing construction represents a shift in the initial and subsequent process of the architectural style of Kalinga, which was the main style used during the period in many temples constructed in Odisha like the Rajarani Temple and the Lingraj Temple.

The key characteristic of this temple is the torana, or the elaborately carved arch. It is a result of strong Buddhist architectural influences. The archway or torana has intricate ornament carvings, beautiful women and other design elements of this kind.

Mukhteshwar Temple
Flute player by the Mukhteshwar Temple (courtesy Wikipedia)

The gate of the temple is well designed and its balance and design gives it a grandiose look. The Vimana stands on a raised platform. It is square in ground plan. The base is divided into five divisions such as Khura, Kumbha, Pata, Kani and Vasanta. These five divisions were absent in earlier divisions of the temple. The pillars have recesses which contain Gaja Simha and Naga columns.

The elevation of the temple is about 35 ft, and the structure is not gigantic, it is in fact very normal in form. But the multitude of sculptures, the unprecedented detailed architecture of the entire premise, is what makes this temple amazing. The temple windows are diamond-shaped and have versions that are latticed. Sculptures of various monkeys performing hilarious acts can be found beside these windows; they depict characters from the popular Panchatantra tales.

Torana (courtesy Wikipedia)

The Jagamohana pyramidal roof of the temple, or the assembly hall, is the first of its kind. Everything about the temple, that is its sanctum, the temple plan, the porch, reflect top-class architectural brilliance and craftsmanship.

The sanctum is carved with exquisite damsels intertwined with nagas and naginis showing feminine charms. With offset walls on the outside, the sanctum is cubical from the inside.

The images of Ganga and Yamuna are carved next to Chanda and Prachanda. The torana is present in front of the jagamohana. The figure of Lakulisa, seated in bhumisparsha-mudra and holding a lakuta is present on the lintel of the jagamohana. In the structure, the figures of Gajalakshmi, Rahu and Ketu are also sculpted. The picture of a lion seated on its hind legs is a slight extension from the side roof of the jagamohana. Pilasters with nagas and naginis decorate the exterior walls of the house.

The temple doorway is ornate. A low compound wall that follows the contours of the temple encloses the temple. Both in and out of the building, the temple has sculptures. The compound walls exit the shrine divided by a very narrow passage.

Festivals at Mukteshwar Temple

The Mukteshwar Dance Festival is a surreal and boisterous 3-day celebration that takes place in the temple every year. Taking place in the month of January or February, this festival is celebrated with mostly Odissi forms of dance performances by locals and famous artists. It is usually coupled with a number of musical performances as well.

Best Time To Visit Mukteshwar Temple

A great time to visit Bhubaneswar in general is during the winter months of October to February, and also because the Mukteshwar dance festival takes place during this time. Summer normally has an unpleasant and scorching heat in Bhubaneswar.

How to Reach

By Air: Biju Patnaik International Airport, is the closest airport. 

By Rail: Bhubaneswar Railway Station is the closest to the temple. 

By Road: Bhubaneswar is well-connected by road to all the neighbouring states such as Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, etc. Buses are available to all these places via Odisha State Road Transport Corporation (OSRTC).

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