Lingaraj Temple History
Lingaraj Temple is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and daily hundreds of devotees visit the temple. Lingaraja means the king of Lingam. At first, the devotees worshipped the Lingam as Kirtivasa, Harihara and finally referred Tribhuvaneshwara, means the master of heaven, earth and netherworld. Here Goddess Parvathi receiving the rituals as Bhuvaneshvari.
According to some Sanskrit texts, the temple was constructed by Lalat Indu Keshari who ruled the region during 615 to 657 CE.
The present form was constructed in eleventh century CE. During that time the temple’s sanctum, temple tower and assembly hall for the devotees were constructed. The king Salini’s consort built the ‘natamandira’ between 1099 and 1104 CE. In the natamandira the dancers perform the classical dances with the themes of epics. In the beginning, the temple was the place for worshipping Lord Vishnu and Shiva. However, the kings of Ganga Dynasty were the followers of Vaishnavism, so they built the Puri Jagannath Temple in Puri. According to Brahma Purana the Somavanshi King Yayati I built the temple during his period 1025 to 1040 CE. Later the king Jajati Keshari shifted his kingdom to Bhubaneswar from Jaipur. Later, many kings donated jewels, gold coins, land and villages to the temple for the purpose of developing the temple. Some of the present historians believe that the temple was constructed by Ananta Kesari and Udyota Kesari the sons of Yayati II. What may be the story of the construction, the temple became the place for pilgrimage from all over India.
Lingaraj Temple Architecture
The 13th century Ekamra Purana narrates that Bhubaneswar was famous as Ekamra Kshetra where Lord Lingaraj was under a mango tree. The devotees here worship as Hari Hara which means the combined form of Shiva and Vishnu. The temple was constructed in Kalinga Architecture and the central tower is at the height of 55 metres. The Lingaraja Temple faces to East and built with sandstone and laterite. The entrance gates were carved in Sandlewood. Along with lord Lingaraja, there are another 50 other shrines located on the compound wall of the temple. Every day the priests perform the rituals according to the ‘Sastras’ and celebrate the festivals on a grand scale. Daily around 6000 pilgrims visit the temple to worship Lingaraja. During the festival celebrations, lakhs of people visit the temple.
Legend Behind Lingaraj Temple
According to the Hindu legend, there is an underground river flowing under the Lingaraj temple and forming a tank outside the temple which is called Bindusagar Tank. The devotees believe that the water has the unique quality of curing the physical and spiritual illness. The pilgrims made the bath in the sacred water and go to pay worship to Lingaraja. The temple also a symbol of the religious harmony. Because during the Bhakti Movement there were some differences raised between the Vaishnavas and Shaivas. Some believe that the temple constructed to reduce the differences between the two sects.
Celebration of Shivaratri
On the festival day, the devotees follow a full day fasting and visit the temple to offer bel leaves to Lingaraj. The festival celebrates in the night, so all the devotees spent the night before the presence of God and pray him all night. Later, the devotees lit a huge lamp on the spire of the temple and break the fasting. In another side, the pilgrims went to the Mahanadi river and dip into the water and walk from there to temple to perform the rituals with the water. Many people visit to see this sacred ritual every year.