Full day visit of Bhubaneswar including temples & caves. Overnight in Bhubaneswar. Built in the 7th Century AD, the Parasurameswar Temple is small but lavishly decorated. Enclosed within a compound wall, the deul, facing the West is a square towered, while the jagamohana, instead of being a stepped pyramid, is a rectangular structure with a terraced roof, sloping in two stages. The deul about 13 m high has no platform and is triratha on plan, a dominant style of the early periods. The temple typifies the stage of Saiva Pasupata Sect, illustrated by the frequent representation of Lakulisa. He is sculpted in Buddha-like form, with four disciples at his feet as shown on the last side of the tower, while on the West, above the relief of Nataraja, he looks like the meditating Buddha. The varandah has projecting moulding topped by a recessed frieze, demarcating bada from the gandi, a feature not found in later temples. The frieze has mostly amorous couples, separated by paneled jalis vidalas (a rampant lion, with head swung backwards, springing over a crouching elephant) at corners, a very typical symbol the beleaguered Buddhist faith.
The jagamohana, adjoining the square towered shrine has an additional doorway on the South and four latticed windows, one each on the North and South and two on the West, the last, decorated with wonderfully animated bands of dancers and musicians. The recurring motif is the highly-ornate chaitya-window, very often filled with animal, human and divine figures, the last including busts of Shiva. The main entrance to jagamohana also has a fine carving of domestic elephants capturing wild ones, to the left of the lintel. Set into the outer walls of the shrine, sculptures are scenes from mythological narratives, forming a repertoire of Saiva myths, among them the highlights are-on the South of the sanctuary, at eye level in the middle of tower, a superb four armed pot bellied Ganesha seated on a simhasana, with his trunk touching a bowl of laddus (balls of sweetmeat) held in his lower left hand, while his upper left holds a parasu (hatchet); Karttikeya in the Southern niche is with a peacock, holding a spear in his left hand and a fruit in his right; the lintel above this niche illustrates the marriage of Shiva and Parvati; to their right are Agni (fire), the kneeling figure of Brahma and next to Brahma is Surya.
Among the notable friezes that line the North wall of the jagamohana are-sapta matrikas (seven mother goddesses), with Chamunda (Shiva's consort goddess Durga in her terrifying aspect); Ganesha having a human visage face with a trunk growing from his chin; and several deities of the Brahmanical pantheon. The temple is dedicated to Shiva, only two of the three original deities survive. The Sahasralingam, in the far corner of the courtyard, decorated with a thousand miniature versions of itself.Mukteswar Temple is in Bhubaneshwar in Orissa, not far from the Parsurameswar Temple. It was constructed around the 10th century. Compared to the more well-known temples in Orissa, this is a small one with a height of only 35 feet. However, the sculptured gateway, diamond shaped latticed windows and decorated interiors and the large number of carvings have made it a unique monument. So much so that instead of its religious value, it is spoken of more due to its architecture. Shiva is the presiding deity.
The temples most striking feature is the arched gateway also called Torana dating back to about 900 A.D. and showing the influence of Buddhist architecture. The Gateway to the Mukteswara Temple, modeled on the torana (arched gateway) recovered from the field in Bhubaneswar, bears sculptures that range from elaborate scrolls to pleasant female forms and figures of monkeys and peacocks etc. This temple is famous for the its this beautiful torana.The arched gateway has thick pillars that have strings of beads and other ornaments carved on statues of smiling women in languorous repose.Lingaraaj means 'the king of Lingas', 'Linga' or 'Lingam' being the symbol of Lord Shiva worship. Lord Shiva is here worshipped as Tribhuvaneshwara (Master of three worlds, i.e. heaven, earth and netherworld). His consort is called Bhuvaneshvari.
The temple is more than 1000 years old, dating back in its present form to the last decade of the eleventh century, though there is evidence that parts of the temple have been there since sixth century AD as the temple has been emphasized in some of the seventh century Sanskrit texts. This is testimony to its sanctity and importance as a Shiva shrine. By the time the Lingaraj temple was constructed, the Jagannath (form of Vishnu) cult had been growing, which historians believe is evidenced by the co-existence of Vishnu and Shiva worship at the temple.The temple is traditionally believed, though without historical authentication, to be built by the Somavanshi king Jajati Keshari, in 11th century AD. Jajati Keshari had shifted his capital from Jajpur to Bhubaneswar which was referred to as Ekamra Kshetra in the Brahma Purana, an ancient scripture.
The Lingaraj temple stands majestically as the largest temple in Bhubaneswar. At 55 metres high, it dominates the landscape with 150 smaller shrines in its spacious courtyard and is surrounded by massive walls lavishly decorated with beautiful sculptures.Rajarani Temple is an 11th century shrine in Bhubaneswar. Originally, it was known as Indreswara, and serves as a shrine to Shiva. It is known for its conspicuous and lively sculptures, especially the female figures, portrayed dancing and engaged in other activities. Rajarani Temple stands on a raised platform. Its spire is decorated with clusters of turrets (replication of the spire itself) emerging form the rib of the spire. The sculptures on the Rajarani Temple have a depth that was lacking in the Mukteswara Temple sculptures. The Jagamohana (porch) though demonstrating a pyramidal structure is yet to take on as a complete structure of its own. It bears signs of repair in 1903 when it collapsed into ruins.Guardians of the Eight Directions'projecting from the base of the temple in the eight directions, starting from the gateway in a clockwise direction around the porch and the deul to end back at the torana.Brahmeswar Temple (c. 1050) is an architectural marvel of the matured Orissan temple building skills and style. Exhibiting a bit of affinity with the more ancient Mukteswara Temple in terms of sculptural iconography such as decoration of the Jagmohana (porch) with lion head carvings, the temple also incorporates certain innovative ideas like introduction of a great number of musicians and dancers on the exterior walls, and the use of iron beams in the construction for the very first time. The otherwise lost inscriptions found on the temple told explicit and precise information about the temple.
From Bhubaneswar, Udayagiri is the hill on the right and access to its 18 caves is provided by a flight of steps. The largest and the most beautiful, Cave 1, Rani Gumpha or Queen's Cave, off the pain path to the right is double storeyed. Excavated on three sides of a quadrangle with fine wall friezes and some recently restored pillars, not exactly architectural marvel, but has some beautiful sculptures.
The right wing of the lower storey consists of a single cell with three entrances and a pillared varandah. On the walls, flanking the terminal pilasters of the verandah, are carved two dwara palas (sentries). The pilasters of entrances to the cell are embellished with side pilasters crowned by animals. Over them there are toranas (arches) relieved with religious and royal scenes-couple standing reverentially with folded hands, a female dancer with accompanying female musicians, etc.
The main central wing, consisting of four cells, has themes apparently indicating victory march of a king, starting from his capital and returning back after passing through various lands. At the angles, where the right and left wings meet, are two small guard rooms which are lavishly decorated-springs cascading down the hills, fruits laden trees, wild animals, sporting elephants in lotus pools, etc.
In the better preserved Upper Storey there are six cells, one each in the left and right wings and four in the rear. All the four cells of the main wing are provided with two doorways each, flanked by two pilasters, from which springs a ornately carved torana (arch) with auspicious Jain symbols (snake and lotus), and friezes depicting scenes laid in wild surroundings story reminiscent of Dushyanta's first meeting with Sakuntala, a dance performance for the royal couple, etc.
Cave 2, Chota Hathi Gumpha, or Small Elephant Cave, is notable for its facade having masterly carving of six vigorous elephants flanking its entrance. Cave 4, Alakapuri Gumpha, contain sculptures of a lion holding a prey, in its mouth, and pillars topped by pairs of winged animals, some human and some bird headed. Cave 5, Jaya Vijaya Gumpha, is double storeyed and a bodhi tree is carved in the central apartment. The high sanctity of the tree is represented by an umbrella over it and being worshipped by a couple on either side.Cave 9, Manchapuri and Swargapuri up the hill and around to right house a damaged relief, the subject of which is worship of some Jain religious symbol. The assemblage on the right is a group of four, votaries with folded hands, dressed in long dhotis, scarves and heavy kundalas (ear rings). The second crowned figure from the left is thought to be the Chedi King, Vakradeva, whose donative inscription occurs on the roof-line of the facade of the cell to the right side of the varandah.
Cave 10, Ganesh Gumpha, about 50 m from the top of the steps takes its name from the figure of Ganesh carved on the back of its right cell. The carvings tell the story of the elopement of Bassavadatta, Princess of Ujjayini, with King Udayan of Kausambi in the company of Vasantaka. Proceeding to the top of the Udayagiri Hill by a pathway to right, the visitor will reach the ruins of an apsidal structure, unearthed in 1958. This Chaitya hall was the place of worship by the monks and in all probability once housed the legendary Kalinga-Jina that Kharavel recovered after it had been removed by Nanda king of Magadha.
Below the ruins is Cave 12, Bagh Gumpha or Tiger cave, so called on account of its front carved into the shape of a tiger's mouth, with distended upper jaw, full of teeth, forming the roof of the verandah and the gullet forming the entrance. The Cave 14, Hathi Gumpha or Elephant Cave is a large natural cavern and on the walls are scratched a few names. Architecturally plain, but a 117 line famous inscription of king Kharavel is important. It relates to the life history of Kharavel, his expeditions and exploits off the battlefield inscribed in the Magadhi characters.
Coming down to the main road by a flight of steps in front of Cave 17 of Udayagiri and going up the road for about 15m, the visitor will find a track to his left leading to the summit of the Khandagiri hill. Following this track for a few meters, brings you at Cave 1 and 2, known as Tatowa Gumpha or Parrot Caves, known so from the figures of parrots carved on the arches of their doorways.
Guarding the entrance to Cave 1, are two sentries in dhotis and scarves and armed with swords. Between the two arches of the doorways providing entrance to cell is a one line inscription calling the cave that of Kusuna. Cave 2 is more spacious and its decorations more elaborate. On the back wall of the cell are Brahmi inscriptions in red pigment, of the first century BC to first century AD, presumably scrawled by a monk in attempt to improve his handwriting.
Farther ascending by the same flight of steps, the path goes to Cave 3, Ananta Gumpha or Snake Cave after the figures of twin serpents on the door arches. It is one of the most important caves on the Khandagiri hill on account of its unique motifs in some relief figures of boys chasing animals including lions and bulls, geese with spread wings holding in its bill the stalk of a lotus bud or a blue lotus, a royal elephant flanked by a smaller one carrying lotus flower, a female figure driving a chariot drawn by four horses and the Lakshmi in a lotus pool being bathed with water from pitchers held by two elephants.
On the back wall of the cell is carved a nandipada on a stepped pedestal flanked on either side by a set of three symbols-a triangle headed symbol, a srivatsa and a swastika, auspicious to the Jains. Cave 7, Navamuni Gumpha, called so due to the figures of nine (nava) tirthankars carved on the back and right walls and Cave 8, Barabhuji Gumpha, named so from two 12 armed (bara-bhuj) figures of sasana-devis carved on the side walls of the verandah, both also have relief of Hindu deities.
The last noteworthy Cave out of 15 Caves of Khandagiri, Cave 9, like Cave 8 was also reconverted in medieval times. Ranged along the three sides of the chamber is the relief of 24 robeless tirthankars. Except for the three standing images of Rishabnath, the rest of images exhibit some crude workmanship.
The 18th century, Jain Temple, at the top of the hill dedicated to Rishabnath, was most probably built on the site of an earlier shrine. The temple enshrines some old tirthankars and affords a panoramic view across the plains. The site, every year, late in January, for a week attracts holy men who assemble on the hillside to intone verses from Hindu epics and meditate. A lively fair comes up at the foot of hills attracting crowds who enjoy the religious spectacle and the shops set along the roadside do brisk business.