The Lingaraja Temple of Bhubaneswar Art and Cultural Legacy

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Item Code: IDK390
Author: K.S. Behera
Publisher: Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts and Aryan Books International
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788173053405
Pages: 200 (4 Color Plates, B/W 148, Figs. & Maps 18)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 11.2" X 8.9"
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Book Description
From the Jacket

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 Vice-Chancellor.

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 production.


List of Illustrationsxii
I Bhubaneswar in Historical Perspective1
IIThe Main Temple Complex of Lingaraja21
IIIArchitectural Features41
IVSculptural Features and Cult Images49
VSubsidiary Shrines and Structures57
VILord Lingaraja, Mode of Worship, Daily Ceremonies and Festivals87
VIIFunctionaries and Management105
VIIIConservation of the Temple117
A: Ekamra Ksetra Mahatmya in the Brahma Purana128
B: Lingaraja Temple Inscriptions132
C: Chronology of Important Temples at Bhubaneswar157
D: List of Protected and Unprotected Monuments in Bhubaneswar159
E: Genealogy of the Somavamsi Dynasty164
F: Agreement between the Trustees of the Lingaraja Temple and Superintendent of Archaeology, Archaeological Survey of India, Eastern Circle, Calcutta, on February 10, 1958165
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