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Mukteswara Temple

Location : Bhubaneswar, Orissa
Dates Back : 950 A.D.
Presiding Deities : Lord Shiva
Architectural Style : Orissan Temple Architecture

Combining Earlier & Later Phases Of Temple Construction

Built in the 10th century, this small elegant temple has been described as the most exquisitely ornamented temple in Bhubaneswar. It has an 11m (35 feet) high tower. The sandstone carvings are the most notable feature of this temple. It is also known for its ornamental gateway, carved dwarves, and intricate motif carvings of a smiling lion, adorned with beaded tassels in its mouth. Muktesvara means the Lord who bestows freedom through yoga. The Siddeswara Temple is on the same grounds and has a Ganesh deity.

The small Marichi Kund, between the Mukesvara Temple and the road, is known to cure infertility in women. It is a pleasant place to sit for awhile.

The relationship with older structures can be immediately seen in the small size of the temple - 35 feet (11m) high at the pinnacle of the tower. At this stage, Orissan builders had not yet attempted the later colossal structures. The latticed windows of the 'Jagmohana' (porch) were probably modelled on those of the 'Parsurameswara' temple, and the octagonal compound wall seems to have been patterned on an earlier structure, which now exists only in fragmentary form.

A 'torana' (arched gateway), which was excavated in a field near Bhubaneswar in fragments, is now in the Orissa State Museum . It would seem that Mukteswara's own stunningly beautiful gateway was strongly based on this earlier example.

The Deities
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 5th 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 southwest 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.

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