Location: Bhubaneshwar, Odisha
Bhubaneshwar, the Temple city of India, derives its name from Tribhuveshwar, another name of Lord Shiva. It is the city of Lord Shiva and thus, it is also host to one of the prominent Shiva Temples of India, the Lingaraj Temple. The largest and the oldest temple of Bhubaneshwar, Lingaraj Temple is a major attraction of this city. The uniqueness of the Lingaraj Temple lies in the fact that the Shiva lingam in the sanctum sanctorum , considered to be a self-originated one, is worshipped as both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.
The history of the Lingaraj temple dates back to around 1,000 years back, in the 11th century. Stories associated with the temple suggest that King Jajati Keshari built the shrine after shifting his capital from Jaipur to Bhubaneshwar. But according to the historians, the temple has been there ever since the 6th century, with the Bhrahma Puran arguing in favor of its existence. The grandeur of the Lingaraj Temple is exceptionally overwhelming because of its mighty structure. Built from sandstone and laterite, the main tower stands at 55 meters in height. It is surrounded by 150 smaller temples belonging to the different gods of the Hindu Pantheon. The presence of different gods and goddesses at one place propagates the message of “different forms of one God”.
The Lingaraj Temple is not only important spiritually, but also for its architectural proficiency. The temple structure is the perfect example of the Kalinga style of architecture, with a tall Gopuram and intricate craftsmanship. The massive walls of the temple are embellished with beautiful sculptures. The deep-cut lines running perpendicularly on the spire create an optical effect which makes the temple look larger than its actual size. The temple has four main divisions known as the Garbh Griha, the Yajna Shalam the Bhoga Mandap and the Natya Shala. The images of all the gods, decorated with exclusive draperies and ornaments, speak greatly of the artist’s excellence.
The Lingaraj Temple attracts lakhs of devotees every year, especially during Shivaratri. Pilgrims from all over the country gather here to offer bel leaves and bhang, and to take the holy dip in the Bindusagar tank. A feeling of supreme divinity and purity is felt as soon as you step inside the temple.
Timings: 6:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.