The ancient city of Odisha, Bhubaneshwar truly justifies its tag that is a “Temple city of India” as earlier around 2000 temples have enhanced the panorama of this city. Bhubaneswar is a sacred destination for Hindus and visited by the devotees of both Lords Shiva and Vishnu. The place has a reference in the Brahma Purana and is called the Ekamra Kshetra since Gog Lingaraj was initially identified under a mango tree. The temple has an average of 6,000 visitors per day and receives lakhs of visitors during festivals like Shivaratri. And now the 11th-century Hindu Lingaraja Temple is heightening the tourism of Odisha as well aa of India.
Let’s explore more about Lingaraj Temple and know its history and significance in Hindu mythology.
Lingaraj temple is considered to be the most ancient and the largest among all the temples located in Bhubaneshwar. This temple is dedicated to Lord Harihara, the combination of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. As it is a very prominent temple of Odisha and well as India thus devotees from every corner of the nation come here to get a sight of Lord Harihara. In order to illustrate the King of Lingam king, who was in the form of the phallic shape of Shiva though the temple is named as Lingaraj.
It is known that when the King of Jaipur moved his capital to the city of Bhubaneswar in the 7th century, he decided to construct the temple of Lingaraj. The temple is about 1,000 years old and forms Odisha’s Golden Triangle-Konark, Bhubaneswar and Puri. In this divine temple, Lord Shiva is worshipped as Tribhuvaneswara which means the Lord of the three worlds – Heaven, Earth and Hell. This temple is only open for Hindus.
You can also visit Bindusagar Lake, one of the city’s most popular picnic spots, which is located north of the temple. According to Hindu mythology, Bindusagar Lake is created by Lord Shiva by collecting water of all the sacred rivers.
It is also believed that the water of this lake has medicinal properties and those devotees who drink the water of Bindu Sarovar is cured of all diseases.
History of Lingraj Temple
The name Lingaraj symbolizes the King of Lingas, and it is believed that the temple was first established by the Somavamsi dynasty ruler Jajati Kesari in the 7th century, who relocated his capital from Jaipur to Bhubaneswar. The temple is more than 1100 years old and it was reconstructed thoroughly in the 11th century. There is also a mention of this temple in the Brahma Purana, the sacred scripture of the Hindu religion. It is said that when the building of the temples was on the verge of completion, the Jagannath religion began to emerge, and this fact has been witnessed by the facts that Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are worshipped here in this temple.
The construction of this Lingaraj temple was done by Soma Vansh King- Jajati Keshari in the striking Kalinga style of architecture and used red sandstone its construction. The main tower of this temple is 180-feet in height. The Temple of Lingaraj is located in a spacious courtyard spanning 250000 sq. ft and consists of 150 small temples devoted to many gods and goddess of the Hindu religion.
The temple is divided into four sections namely
- Garbh Griha (Sanctum Sanctorum)
- Yajna Shala (Hall of the Yajnas)
- Bhoga Mandapa (The Hall of offerings)
- the Natya Shala (Hall of Dance/ Festive)
The entrance gate faces east in the gallery is made of sandalwood. The Rekha Deula has a tall pyramidal tower intricately sculpted with female figures in different poses.
Importance of Lingaraj Temple
The lingam in the Temple of Lingaraj is the Swayambhu lingam and only appeared during the Dwapara and Kali Yugas. The lingam is a small, unshaped stone resting on the shakti. These Swayambhu lingams have also been found in 64 other areas of India. The Gangas modified the temple and added other portions of the Vaishnavites such as images of Jaya and Prachanda, Jagannatha, Lakshmi Narayan and Garuda.
Festivals Celebrated in Lingaraj Temple
Shivratri is the main festival celebrated here annually in the months of February and March. Celebrations are primarily conducted all night long. But apart from Shivratri, there are many other festivals celebrated here just like the Jagannath Temple they are: Ratha Yatra, Chandan Yatra, Handi Bhanga Jatra, Prathamasthami, Sunian day and Prabaran Sasthi.
The best time to visit this temple which will worth your trip of Bhubhaneshwar is between January and March as you can witness the holiness of the Shivaratri celebration at the temple.