Built in the 11th century, the temple of Lingaraja in Bhubaneswar is acclaimed as one of the
finest temples of India. With its construction the Orissan temple style reached its mature
phase and set the model for later temples to follow. The book, for the first time, makes an
in depth study of the temple in all its aspects such as its history, architecture,
sculpture, mode of worship, festivals, organization of services, etc. to understand the
temple in its totality. The architectural features and religious aspects are described in
the light of Orissan architectural lore and ksetra mahatmyas of Bhubaneswar.
Originally conceived as a Siva temple, in course of time, it was transformed into a
temple for both Siva and Visnu. With perhaps the largest concentration of temples, ranging
from the 11th to the 15th centuries, the temple premises united the Saiva, Sakta and
Vaisnava followers and fostered a spirit of harmony in the religious life of Orissa.
The comprehensive study, lavishly illustrated, is expected to provide new insights
into the appreciation of this great temple and its various aspects.
About the Author
K. S. Behera, Emeritus Professor of Utkal University, is an archaeologist and
historian. He has held various positions such as Professor and Head of the Post-Graduate
Department of History, Utkal University; Head of the Department of Ancient Indian History,
Culture and Archaeology, Utkal University; Dean, Faculty of Arts, Chairman, Post-Graduate
Council, Utkal University; President, Orissa History Congress; Member, Central Advisory
Board in Archaeology, Govt. of India; Member, Governing Body of the National Council of
Science Museums; Indira Gandhi Fellow of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New
Delhi; Vice Chancellor, Fakir Mohan University, Balasore, etc.
His major publications include Folk Art and Craft (ed.), 1978; Cuttack: 1000 Years
(ed.), 2 vols, 1991; Praci Mahatmya (in Sanskrit) (ed.), 1992; Temples of Orissa, 1993;
Konarak: The Heritage of Mankind, 2 vols, 1996; Bhakti Vaibhava Natakam (in Sanskrit) (ed.),
1998; Sculpture Masterpieces from Orissa: Style and Iconography, co-author T.E. Donaldson,
1998; Maritime Heritage of India (ed.), 1999; Charles Grome's Report on the Temple of
Jagannatha (ed.), 2002; G. Webb's Report on the Temple of Jagannatha (ed.), 2003, etc.
He is currently conducting research on the temple of Jagannatha, Puri.
The IGNCA feels very happy in presenting to its readers this excellent all round study of
one of the wonders of Indian Art which has been marveled by Indian and foreign visitors
alike since centuries. The temple complex of Lingaraja-Tribhuvanesvara is a unique
contribution of the Silpins of Orissa to their motherland and represents the best of the
North Indian Rekha style of the temple architecture. It is a unique achievement in stone, a
most fortunate blend of delicate beauty with a well balanced proportion and style. It is
poetry in stone and a monumental memorial to that unknown patron who commissioned it and to
the artistic skill of those unknown, unnamed and unsung artisans of this great land.
The temple of Lingaraja is a class apart and everyone who happens to stand before it
beholding it with abated breath, soon gets lost forgetting himself in its splendid
grandeaur. Not even an inch of this great edifice is without an input of artistic skill
leading one to wonder whether those artisans were lapidaries or goldsmiths!.
It is for the first time that such a detailed and comprehensive study of this unique
treasure of Art is being presented to the scholars covering not only the aspect of art, but
also shedding light on its history, rituals, festivals and organization. The inscriptions
engraved on its walls have also been assigned their rightful place and with its around 150
plates which leave out no important sculpture or decorative motif, it has virtually become a
picture album of the Lingaraja temple. The study has thus become a model for further such
attempts of the scholars.
The charter of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts sets out as its
objective a holistic approach to the study of art; it says that it would study each from of
art not in an isolated manner but always in relation to other forms of art and to those
aspects which contribute towards its emergence and to the formation of its specific
character. There cannot be a better example of such a study than the present one which,
though centring around the aspect of art, does full justice to other appurtenant factors as
well, hence it is unique in its field and is miles ahead of once the only available work on
Bhubaneswar temples by K.C. Panigrahi titled: Archaeological Remains at Bhubaneswar
published in the mid-sixties of the previous century.
The present work is a very significant outcome of the Indira Gandhi Memorial
Fellowship of IGNCA awarded to Prof. K.S. Behera in the years 1999-2001. There could not
have been a more suitable scholar to carry out this study than he who has adorned the office
of the Professor and Head of the Deptt. Of History at the Utkal University for long years
and that of the Vice-Chancellor of the F.M. University of Balasore. Not only is he keenly
interested in interpreting the art and are a testimony to this. It is a matter of personal
satisfaction to me that this work of my old friend and well wisher is now being published
under my supervision with whom I have had the occasion to interact since many years.
The objective of this monograph is to make a comprehensive study of the temple of Lingaraja
at Bhubaneswar, which is one of the finest temples in India. The temple was built in the
11th century. From the first quarter of the 19th century, a number of scholars, both Indian
and Western, such as R.L. Mitra, M.M. Ganguly, R.D. Banerjee, K.C. Panigrahi, T.E. Donaldson
and others, described the Lingaraja temple, with emphasis on the temples of the Khajuraho,
Madhya Pradesh, the Brihadesvara temple, Tamilnadu, etc. no endeavour has been made to
conduct an in-depth study of the Lingaraja temple. In the present monograph, an attempt has
been made to study the temple in all its aspects, such as its history, architecture,
sculpture, religious context, festivals, conservation measures, inscriptions, etc. in a
systematic manner. The purpose is to understand the temple in its totality. The temple has
not been viewed merely as an archaeological monument, but as a living centre of great
religious significance. The architecture of the temple has been studied in the light of the
Silpa sastra texts and the architectural lore of Orissa. The study of sacred texts, such as
Ekamra Purana, Ekamra Candrika and Svarnadri Mahodaya have thrown light on the system of
worship, daily rituals and periodic festivals indicating changes and continuity. Thus, an
integrated and multidimensional study of the temple is expected to provide new insights for
the understanding of this great temple and its varied aspects.
My interest in the temples of Bhubaneswar began in 1962, when I joined the
Post-Graduate Department of History, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar. I am grateful to my
respected Professor Dr. M. N. Das for instructing me to conduct research on the art and
archaeology of Orissa. At first, I concentrated my research on the famous Sun temple of
Konarak. All along, however, Lingaraja had a special fascination for me as I lived in
Bhubaneswar. I am grateful to the Indira Gandhi Gandhi National Centre for the Arts for
granting the award of fellowship in November 1999 to conduct research on the Lingaraja
temple. The fellowship enabled me to conduct field work and to understand this great temple
from a comparative perspective. After working for about eight months, I accepted an
assignment to head the newly established Fakir Mohan University, Balasore as its
During my research, I have received valuable help from a number of scholars and
institutions. I wish to record my gratitude to Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, Shri M. N. Despande,
Shri M.C. Joshi and Prof. M.A. Dhaky for their interest in my research.
I am grateful to the authorities of IGNCA for undertaking the publication of my
work. I thanks Dr. K.K. Chakravarty, Member Secretary, IGNCA and Shri A.N. Jha, Joint
Secretary, IGNCA for making the publication of this volume possible. My good friend Prof
G.C. Tripathi, an eminent Sanskrit scholar and a specialist on Orissan Studies was kind
enough to go through the text and provided valuable inputs. He also graciously accepted my
request to write a foreword to the book. I also thank Dr. (Mrs.) Advaitavadini Kaul for her
meticulous care in seeing this publication through the press.
I thank the authorities of the American Institute of Indian Studies, New Delhi and
the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi for supplying me photographs from their
collection I am grateful to Dr. Sanjaya Acharya, Department of Ancient Indian History,
Culture and Archaeology, Utkal University for his kind help to photograph the Lingaraja
temple and other temples of Bhubaneswar. Shri Soumya Darshan Behera, my son, helped me in
photographic documentation. I also thank Shri Pradosh Patnaik for his help in taking some
photographs of the temple. I am grateful to Prof. Santosh Mishra, Orissa University of
Agriculture and Technology, Bhubaneswar for permitting me to use the photographs and
architectural drawings in his collection. I am grateful to Shri Rakesh Kumar, Archaeological
Survey of India, Bhubaneswar for preparing plans and drawings of the temple.
I am grateful to Dr. Snigdha Tripathy, Epigraphist, Government of Orissa for giving
me the benefit of her readings and compilation of the inscriptions of the Lingaraja temple.
I am grateful to Prof. A. N. Parida, Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and
Archaeology, Utkal University; Dr. B.K. Rath, Superintendent, Orissa State Archaeology; Dr.
Jeeban Kumar Patnaik, Archaeological Survey of India, Bhubaneswar; and Shri Ramakanta Mishra
(O.A.S.), Administrator, Lingaraja temple for their kind help and co-operation.
I am indebted to Late Dr. U. N. Dhal for familiarizing me with the Sanskrit sources
on Bhubaneswar. I am thankful to the priests of Lingaraja temple for giving me insights into
the rituals, festivals and religious traditions of Bhubaneswar.
I wish to record my thanks to Shri Pradeep Kumar Gan for providing for providing me
Secretarial 'Assistance throughout this project.
I am grateful to my family members, particularly to my daughter Prajna Paramita and
my son-in-law Shri Bijaya Kumar Kalta for helping me in various ways.
I cannot adequately express my thanks to Smt. Shantipriya Behera, my wife, for her
support and encouragement to carry out this project.
And finally I am thankful to Mr. Vikas Arya of Aryan Books International for his
keen interest in co-publishing this work and taking special care of all the aspects of its
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