The ancient capital of the Kalinga Empire, the Lingaraj Temple is one of the most well-known temples that have been ever built in Odisha. This temple was built by the King Jajati Keshari in the 11th century and is believed to be the oldest temple in Bhubaneswar. The term ‘Lingaraja’ refers to the ‘king of Lingas’, also known as Lord Shiva.
Lingaraj Temple is preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) along with the Temple Trust Board. Apart from spiritual relevance, its architecture displays the intricate craftsmanship of the artists during that era. The presence of many small shrines inside its premises declares the message of a single God that is present in various forms in the eyes of the devotees.
While Lord Shiva’s Trishul and Lord Vishnu’s Chakra are present on each side at the entrance of Lingaraj Temple, the Simhadwara’ or the ‘Lions Gate’ is present on the eastern side of the shrine.
Lingaraj Temple History
According to legends, Lord Shiva said to Parvati that he favored Bhubaneswar or Ekamra thirtha over Benares. Parvati decided to disguise herself as a cowherd woman to have a look at the city herself when she met two demons, Kritti and Vasa who desired to marry her. Parvati asked them to carry her on their shoulders and then crushed them under her weight. It is then that Lord Shiva created the Bindu Saras lake to quench Parvati’s thirst and decided to dwell here as Krittivasas or Lingaraja.
Lingaraj Temple has been mentioned in the Hindu scripture, Brahma Purana. The present structure of the holy shrine was built during the 11th century; however, some parts also date back to the 6th century as well. It is said that when the structure of the temple was about to complete, the Jagannath sect started to flourish. This belief is furnished with both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu being worshipped in the temple.
Lingaraj Temple is built of solid red sandstones which lend it as a look of the fortress when viewed from outside.
Significance of Lingaraj Temple
This Hindu temple worshipping Lord Shiva is one of the oldest temples to have been ever built in Bhubaneshwar. Aptly stated as the ‘Temple city of India’, it is a famous pilgrimage center in Odisha.
Lingaraj Temple is a testimony to the fact that it holds a supreme place for every visitor and ardent follower of Lord Shiva in the eastern India. Lord Shiva is worshipped in this temple as Harihara, which is a combined form of Vishnu and Shiva. This is a tribute to the harmony of the two sects.
The granite statue is 54.8 meters high, 8 feet in diameter and is worshipped on a platform that is 8 inches above the ground. In fact, the deity is daily worshipped with water, milk and bhang (marijuana). The temple has an average of 6000 devotees visiting the auspicious shrine on a daily basis.
Lingaraj Temple represents the Kalinga style of architecture. The temple constitutes four parts, namely, the Garbh Griha, the Yajna Shala, the Bhoga Mandap and the Natya Shala. It has 150 smaller shrines inside its huge courtyard and Lord Vishnu is also worshipped here in the form of Saligramam idol. This reflects the presence of harmony that is present in the religion.
There is a vast Bindu Sagar lake which is the center and surrounded by which are located a large number of temples of Bhubaneswar. Lingaraj Temple is also believed to store some vital Sanskrit scripts that belong to the 6th and 7th
The best time to pay a visit to this temple is between January and March, as it is during this time the Shivaratri festival is celebrated.
Aside from Garbh Griha, the ‘Natya Mandir’ gives an indication of its connection with the devadasi connection. Other than the Lingam, the parsva devta reveres the site, where Lord Ganesha, Lord Kartikay and Goddess Parvati are put in various paths. Every one of the pictures is enormous and presents an incredible workmanship of the experts. The idols are decorated with rich draperies and jeweler.
Non-Hindus are not permitted to enter the temple premises. However, there is an elevated platform to see the temple located to one side of the boundary walls. An individual, in order to reach to this platform, should face the temple’s main entrance and continue to walk in the right direction. There is a path connecting to the back of the temple with this platform. Photography is strictly prohibited inside the temple premises.
Lingaraj Temple Timings
- Lingaraj Temple opens at 6 am and closes at 9 pm. The temple is closed in the afternoon from 12 noon to 3.30 pm.
Lingaraj Temple Food Timings
It is after the Bhanda Dhupa’ at 3:30 pm, the food of the deity is served to the pilgrims free of cost. The Bhogamandapa offering consists of cooked rice, curries, and sweet-meats which are used to invoke the divinity. Coconuts, ripe plantains, and kora-khai are the general offerings made to the Lingaraj Temple by the travelers. And on special occasions like, Pana Sankranti, bhanga is also served.
Festivals celebrated at Lingaraj Temple
- Shivaratri is the most famous festival that is observed on a yearly basis in the temple. Thousands of visitors assemble here and they pray throughout the night. It represents the celebration when Lord Shiva had killed a demon.
- The sunian day is another occasion that has been in practice since the ancient times. In the Bhadra month, all the temple servants, farmers and other owners of temple lands offer devotion and tribute to Lingaraja.
- Candan Yatra marks a 22-day celebration in the temple when the deities and servants of the temple are smeared with sandalwood paste and they disport themselves into specifically made Bindusagar tank.
- The Ratha Yatra or the chariot festival takes place every year on Ashokaashtami. The idol is taken in a chariot to the Rameshwar Deula temple and innumerable devotees pull the well-decorated chariots of Lingaraja and his sister Rukmani.
Lingaraj Temple Sevas and Poojas
- A total of 22 worship services is offered on a daily basis.
- The idol of Lingaraja once in a year is taken to the Jalamadir that is built at the centre of the Bindu Sagar Lake.
- At 6:30 A.M. the temple door is opened and a servant named Akhanda lights the lamp to awaken the Lord from his sleep. This is followed by the ablution and the arati. The priest announces that this is done in the name of the Raja of Puri.
- The ritual of ‘Mahasnana’ or bathing the deity with water is completed which is followed by the pouring of ‘Panchamrita’.
- Between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m, the food offering or ‘Ballabha Bhoga’ is offered to the deity that is then presented to Parvati.
- At 2 p.m, the ‘Sakala Dhupa’ or morning’s offering of food takes place and which is followed by another food offering called as ‘Bhanda Dhupa’ at 3:30 p.m. The food is later served to the pilgrims.
- The ‘Palia Badu’ offering is made at 7 p.m. and the ‘Sahana Dhupa’ is offered at around 8:30 p.m. The arati is then performed.
- The last offering is made at 9:30 p.m in the form of ‘Bada Singara’ or the great decoration which is succeeded with a light food offering.
- A wooden palanquin is laid in the room, incense lit, drinking water is served, and betel is served too. The Panchabaktra Mahadeva comes to the palanquin and comes back to his own particular house where the arati is performed. This is a bronze picture of Mahadeva having five appearances and Parvati in his lap. The daily service of the temple closes with this service. At this point, the main door of the holy place is shut for the night.
How to Reach Lingaraj Temple
- By Air- The Biju Patnaik Airport is situated in the heart of the Bhubaneswar city and all domestic carriers operate here. There many flights that connect it with different metros in the nation, for example, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bangalore.
- By Train- Bhubaneswar Railway Station is well connected with every major city in India. There are many express and super-fast trains that run on a daily basis.
- By Road- The city has good public and private bus services to offer to its visitors. Bhubaneswar is situated on the National Highway no 5 that runs between Kolkata and Chennai.
Lingaraj Temple Accommodation
There are many budget hotels in Bhubaneswar which offers world class services at attractive rates. Moreover, you can also opt for luxury hotels that are equipped with every modern amenity to meet the growing needs of visitors.
There are also a large number of hotels that provide online booking services to its visitors as well.
Where to eat
The Bhog Mandir of Lingaraj Temple offers food to the deity on a timely basis. This is then distributed among the visitors. The Prasad is considered divine and sacred which is cherished by pilgrims for its unique flavor.
There are many budget friendly and good restaurants that promise to offer a variety of cuisine to suit the taste of every traveler. From North Indian to South Indian, there are plenty of options to choose from. Also, do not forget to taste some unique Odisha sweets.
- Puri Temple – It is one of the most sacred destinations in the eastern India. Being one of the four Dham’s, it is the abode of Lord Jagannath. It is 65km from Bhubaneswar which draws plenty of people during the Rath Yatra festival. In addition to it, this temple is one of the most popular and holy destination in the Eastern part of India.
- Konark Temple – It is declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is 45km from Bhubaneswar. This temple is dedicated to the Sun God and the architecture is bound to leave every visitor speechless. During the month of December, Orissa Tourism organizes the Konark Festival where artists from across the world perform their arts.
- Biraja Temple – This temple comprises of 51 Shakti peeths, out of which 18 are Maha Shakti peeths. It is the place where Goddess Navel fell and visitors who cannot travel to Gaya can visit this place. It is situated at a distance of 115 km from the city of Bhubaneswar.
- Tarini Temple – This is a famous temple that is located in the Keojhar district and is 140km from Bhubaneswar. It is one of the Shakti peeth of the Goddess Durga.
- Mahavinayaka Temple – Lord Ganesha is worshipped in this temple on a hill. The five deities, namely, Lord Shiva, Maa Shakti, Lord Ganesh, Lord Vishnu and Sun God are worshipped in a single idol at a single platform. It is 65km distant from Bhubaneswar.
- Rajarani Temple – Being dedicated to Lord Brahma, this temple constitutes of a particular form of limestone that makes it unique and mesmerizing. It is just 5km away from the capital city of Odisha.