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Mukteswara Temple Orissa

Mukteswara Temple OrissaMukteswara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, Mukteswara, is carved with figures of ascetics in several poses of meditation. The highlight of the temple, is the magnificent torana - the decorative gateway, an arched masterpiece, reminiscent of Buddhist influence in Orissa.. The sculptured gateway, the jagamohana with diamond shaped latticed windows and decorated interiors and the plethora of sculptural work all deserve mention in this temple dedicated to Shiva Although it is only a small monument rising to a height of 35 feet. Literally every inch of its surface is carved. This temple has also been described as a dream realized in sandstone and it is a monument where it is said sculpture and architecture are in complete harmony with one another. This 10th century temple built in the year of AD 950, is an important transition point, between the early and the later phases of the Kalinga school of temple architecture. The sculptural decoration of the Mukteswara is exquisitely executed, and it is often referred to as the "gem of Oriya architecture". Richly sculpted, the temple offers pride of place to tales from the Panchatantra. The arched gateway is particularly fine. It also shows excellent combinations of Hindu and Buddhist and Jain features, which find a common voice in much of Orissan temple craft.

The sculptural decoration of the Mukteswara is exquisitely executed. The beautiful sculptures eloquently speak of the sense of proportion and perspective of the sculptor and their unique ability in the exact depiction of the minutest objects. The builders of Mukteswara Temple introduced new architectural designs, new art motifs and new conceptions about the icnography of the cult images. There are a number of depictions of skeletal ascetics among the sculptural images, most of them shown in teaching or meditation poses, which seems appropriate as the name Mukteswara means "Lord who gives freedom through Yoga". The sculptures in the ceiling of the jagamohan are also an entirely different creation. This 10th century temple has some of the most ornate carvings and renditions of the Panchatantra tales. Sculptures can be found of elephants, monkeys, lions, and other animals. Around the windows of the Jagmohana are monkeys engaged in a variety of humorous and lively scenes depicting popular stories from Panchatantra.

Temple of Mukteswara OrissaThe sophisticated architectural style holds a magnetic appeal that lies in its indigenous glory. Orissa temples like others in India are not merely abodes of deities but a Shraddhanjali (offering) to the most sacred. They are characterised by exquisite, ornamentally carved Gods and Goddesses, kings and queens, animals and flower motifs. Orissa is probably the only State where one can study temple architecture in all its successive stages of development. This beautifully decorated, elaborately carved temple is not far from the Parsurameswar temple. It is one of the smallest temples and the compactness of the temple is also very striking. The tank inside the compound is still used by the priest and the devotees. It is believed that tossing coins in the well will cure a women suffering from infertility. On the door frame one can see the carvings of the local saint, Lakulisa. Its earthy red sandstone body is encrusted with intricate carvings, depicting starved lean looking Sadhus (holy men) to voluptuous, become women bedecked with jewels

Mukteswar's most distinctive feature is the arched gateway also called "Torana" dated about 900 A.D. The Torana shows the influence of Buddhist architecture. This thick pillared, arched gateway is beautifully carved with strings of beads and other attractive ornaments with statues of smiling women in languorous postures. In the yard stands the Kedareswar Temple, with a striking 8 feet statue of Ram Bhakt Hanuman (the monkey God). With its small dimension (10.5m height) and red stone masonry it is a glorious synthesis of the old and new styles of the Kalinga School. With a fully developed pancharatha for the main sanctuary and a square planned jagmohana (porch or entrance) and an embryonic pidha superstructure in the shape of a stepped pyramid, every inch of the exterior has dainty and distinct carvings, such as the clear cut lacings of the Chaitya windows. The rounded edges of the pagas (segments) give the temple a mollifying look. Both the temple and the porch stand on a low plinth surrounded by a low wall with offset projections and sculptured exterior facing west. The porch is remarkable for the sculptural treatment of the interior a rare feature in Orissa Temples

About the Deity
On the outer face of the compound wall are niches containing a variety of divinities. These include Saraswati (sitting on a lotus with two female attendants by her side), Ganesa (with his attendant mouse), and Lakulisha (the fifth century founder of the Pashupata sect of tantric Shaivism), who is portrayed sitting cross-legged, with two miniature ascetic figures in the triangular side panels. The fact that these wall niches include Buddhist and Jain images as well as Shaivite (Hindu) ones attests once again to the synthesis which was so much a part of Orissan religious life. The 'torana' (arched gateway) of the Mukteswara deserves special attention. Its extraordinarily beautiful sculpture includes elaborate scrolls, graceful female figures, monkeys, peacocks, and a wealth of delicate and lovely decorative detail. On the eastern side of the temple compound is a sacred tank, and in the south west corner is a well which is said to cure fertility problems. Several small shrines will be noticed within the compound, many with lingam inside. These were offering shrines depicting utmost faith in God for all purposes during that era.

Places to see
Orissa State Museum
A mini-Orissa with artifacts, sculptures, coins, textiles, traditional instruments, manuscripts and more which provide the visitor with a comprehensive insight into Oriyan culture.
Parsurameswar Temple
This is the best-preserved, and therefore also the most beautiful, of Bhubaneshwar's early temples.
Rajarani Temple
Never completed, the 12th century Rajarani Temple still ranks among the finest of Bhubaneshwar's later temples.
Bindu Sagar
An important landmark of the Old Town, the Bindu Sagar (Ocean Drop Tank) is to be found just north of the Lingaraj Temple.
Tribal Museum
This museum provides an insight into the tribal culture of Orissa.
Handicrafts museum
It is situated on Secretariat Road and has a vast range of handicrafts collection.

Main Attraction
Good place to shop for woven Ikat fabric, applique work, silver iligree jwellery, stone carvings and patta chitra paintings. The Ashokaashtami procession is in Mar/April, Bali Yatra, a fair is held in Oct/Nov.

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