Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneswar


Lingaraja Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the oldest temples in the Temple City of Bhubaneswar, a revered pilgrimage center and the capital of the state of Orissa.

The temple is a glowing tribute to the harmony between two sects as the deity worshipped here is Hari-Hara, a combined form of Vishnu and Shiva. The presiding deity is the Swayambhu Linga. Lingaraaj means ‘the king of Lingas’, ‘Linga’ or ‘Lingam’ being a symbol of Lord Shiva.

Architectural Delight

The Lingaraja temple stands majestically and is the largest temple in Bhubaneswar. The temple is located within a spacious compound wall of laterite measuring 520 feet by 465 feet. The wall is 7 feet 6 inches thick and surmounted by a plain slant coping. Alongside the inner face of the boundary wall there runs a terrace probably meant to protect the compound wall against outside aggression.

This magnificent temple is dedicated to Shiva. Along with the Raja-Rani Temple, it is a prime architectural wonder in Bhubaneswar. It contains a profusion of sculptural work. It is built of red sandstone, which gives it a dark color. 55 metres high, it dominates the landscape with 150 smaller shrines in its spacious courtyard and is surrounded by massive walls lavishly decorated with beautiful sculptures.

As observed by Ramesh Prasad Mohapatra, the temple of Lingaraja is by far the most notable monument of Bhubaneswar. Rising to a height of about one hundred and eighty feet and dominating the entire landscape it represents the quintessence of the Kalinga architecture and the culminating result of the architectural tradition at Bhubaneswar.

Historical Value

The temple is more than a 1000 years old, dating back in its present form to the last decade of the eleventh century, though there is evidence that parts of the temple have been there since sixth century AD as the temple has been mentioned in some of the seventh century Sanskrit texts- a testimony to its sanctity and importance as a Shiva shrine. By the time the Lingaraja temple was constructed, the Jagannath (form of Vishnu) cult had been growing, which historians believe is evidenced by the co-existence of Vishnu and Shiva worship at the temple.

The temple is traditionally believed, though without historical authentication, to be built by the Somavanshi king Jajati Keshari, in 11th century AD. Jajati Keshari had shifted his capital from Jajpur to Bhubaneswar which was referred to as Ekamra Kshetra in the Brahma Purana, an ancient scripture.

Religious Significance

This temple has actually four parts: the main temple, the Yajna Shala, the Bhoga Mandap and finally the Natya Shala. This temple has images of both Shiva and Vishnu. Vishnu is actually present as Shaligram idol. The Shiva idol is surrounding the Vishnu (Shaligram) idol. Even the temple on the top has got no trishula (trident – the weapon of Shiva) and even Chakra (discus – weapon of Lord Vishnu). It has only Lord Rama’s arrow symbol, probably because Lord Rama was a worshipper of Lord Shiva.

The temple’s main gates have images of Lord Shiva, Trishula on one side and Lord Vishnu, Chakra on the other side.

The massive granite block in the sanctum, the Swayambhu, is worshipped both as Shiva and Vishnu. The granite block image of the Linga is said to be bathed daily with water, milk and bhang (marijuana). Almost all the Hindu Gods and Goddesses are represented here, reflecting the innate element of harmony within the religion.