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mains Test Series 2018
ODISSA SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE
Aug 10, 2015

The temples at Orissa, or Kalinga which is its ancient name, provide some of the finest examples of the Indo-Aryan style of temple architecture, which is distinct from the south Indian style. The main group of temples is concentrated in the town of Bhubaneshwar where there are over thirty of them. A few miles from this temple town are two of the largest buildings in eastern India, the temple of Jagannath at Puri and the Sun temple at Konarak. Other examples of this style of architecture can also be seen further north on the southern borders of Bengal.

The Lingaraja temple at Bhubaneswar (11th century), the Jagannath Temple at Puri (12th century) and the great Sun Temple at Konark (13th century) mark the culmination of a distinct style of architecture called the Kalinga style remarkable in its plan elevation and details of decoration. In the simplest form, a temple of this style consists of a structural due, the main temple or shrine and the frontal porch. 

Kalinga Architecture

While the main temple, called Vimana or Deula, is the sanctum enshrining the deity the porch or assembly hall called Jagamohana is the place for the congregation of devotees. The former, constructed on a square base, has a soaring curvilinear tower (sikhara) and is known as rekha deula. The laatter built on a rectangular base is a pidha temple, i.e. its roof consists of pidhas which are horizontal platforms arranged successively iii a receding formation so as to constitute a pyramidal superstructure.- Although the two temples are architecturally different, they are constructed in axial alignment and interconnected so as to form an integral pattern.

Unique features of Odisha School:

  • Exterior walls are lavishly decorated through intricate cravings but interior walls are plain
  • No use of pillars- Instead of pillars, iron gridders were used, to support roof.
  • Shikhara is called Deul and is almost vertical till the top when it suddenly curves sharply inwards

This two-part structure in the earliest form of temple construction is noticeable in the Parsurameswar temple of Bhubaneswar  (7th century).  A modest specimen of the Bhubaneswar-Lakshmaneswar group of early temples, it has a squattish type of curvilinear  Parsurameswar Templesikhara and an oblong pillared jagamohana. The scupltures on the temple walls are also notable for their simplicity and beauty. The Kalinga style  reached its perfection during the Ganea period when two more structures were added the front of the two-part temple in order to meet the needs of the elaborate rituals; these are the natamandira (dancing hall) and the bhogamandapa (hall of offerings). The four halls of structure as at Lingaraja and Jagannatha, stand in one line with emphasis on the towering sikhara of the main shrine. However, the devotees have to enter through the side doors of the jagamohana leaving the tamandira and bhogamandapa behind.

Temple building activities in Odisha continued uninterrupted between the 7th and 16th centuries. As different religious sects had their successive sway over the land during this period, they provided the necessary fillip for modifications in the architectural designs and sculptural details. The Vaital temple at Bhubaneswar and the Varahi temple at Chaurasi in the Prachi Valley with their semicylindrical roofs are examples of a different order of temples described as E(hakhara type in the shiIpasastras. The former with its tower resembling a topsy-turvied boat and the later with its barrel-vaulted top are dedicated to the goddess Chamunda and Varahi respectively. The silhouetted interior of the sanctum and the sculptural motifs in the niches of the temples bear the influence of Shakti cult.

There is yet another class of temples which are almost unique in their conception and execution in the whole country; these are the circular shaped, hypaethral or roofless structures dedicated to the sixty-four yoginis belonging to the Tantric order. Out of all the five shrines of yogini worship existing in the whole country, two are situated in Odisha, the Chausathi Yogini temples one at Hirapur near Bhubancswar and the other at Ranipur-Jharial in Titlagarh subdivision of Balangir district. 

However, the Kalinga style of architecture which was the most common order throughout progressed well under the patronage of the Somavamsi Kings of Odisha during the 10th and 11th centuries. The Mukteswar temple(10th century) of Bhubaneswar is considered a "gem of Odisha architecture"and is accepted as one of the most beautiful temples of India.

The other grandest achievement of this school of architecture is the Sun-templeSun temple at Konarak (c. A.D. 1250), 
standing entirely by itself some twenty miles from Puri. Built in the thirteenth century, it was conceived as a gigantic solar chariot with twelve pairs of exquisitely-ornamented wheels dragged by seven rearing horses. The temple comprised a sanctum with a lofty (presumably over 68 m. high) sikhara, a jagamohana (30. m. square and 30. m. high) and a detached nata-mandira (hall of dance) in the same axis, besides numerous subsidiary shrines. The sanctum and the nata-mandira have lost their roof. The nata-mandira exhibits a more balanced architectural design than that of other Orissan temples. The sanctum displays superb images of the Sun-god in the three projections which are treated as miniature shrines. The sanctum and the jagamohana together stand on a common platform studded with an intricate wealth of decorative ornaments and sculptures, often of a highly erotic ty

The temple is dedicated  to Surya, the Sun god, who has traditionally been represented as riding his winged chariot drawn by seven horses. The temple is therefore fashioned like a ratha (chariot) and the base of  the structure has 12 giant wheels, each nearly ten feet high. The entire surface is filled out with sculpted forms, some of outstanding beauty, while the others are of a markedly erotic character. These indicate the emergence of a particular phase of Hinduism, better known as Tantrism. However, it appears that this cult soon lost much of its following, and today the temple lies abandoned, under the care of the Archaeological Survey of India, unlike the Jagannath temple at Puri which is an important pilgrimage site. Though much of this structure is now in ruins, its sheer grandeur and size still inspires awe.


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