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Rajarani Temple, Bhubaneswar

Rajarani Temple, Bhubaneswar

The Rajarani temple, Bhubaneswar (Lat.200 15’ N Long. 850 50’ E) in the district of Khurda is located towards north-east of Lingaraj temple is one of the most beautiful temples representing a unique experiment in the field of architecture in Orissa. The temple, in all probability, referred to in the traditional sanskrit texts as Indresvara Siva temple is remarkable for its sculptural excellence, profusion of ornaments, exuberant architectural features and multiple scroll work. At present, the sanctum is devoid of any deity. The present name Rajarani has been derived from a very fine grained yellowish sand stone called Rajarania in common parlance with which the entire edifice has been built. Mellowed by time, the glaring amber of the stone complements its architectural splendor.

Facing east, this temple consists of a sanctum (deul) with height of 17.9m and a porch (jagamohana) raised above a platform of three mouldings is pancharatha in plan with a curvilinear superstructure (rekha sikhara), reminiscent of the Kandariya Mahadeva temple of Khajuraho. Temple exhibits yet another phase in the evolution of Orissan temple architecture.

The temple has panchanga bada or five divisions’ viz., pabhaga, talajangha, bandhana, uparajangha and baranda. The lowermost division is called pabhaga having five decorative mouldings namely, khura, kumbha, patta, kani and basanta. The superstructure (gandi) of the temple is distinguished by number of miniature turrets (angasikharas). The composite form of the temple with clustering of such miniature turrets, multiple recesses and angles make the edifice circular in appearance. Above the superstructure is crowned with a fluted disc shaped architectural members called amalaka. A vase (kalasa) surmounts the amalaka as the crowning finial.

In a pleasing contrast to the ornate decoration of the sanctum, the tiered (pidha) jagamohana is severely plain, though intended to decorate it originally but possibly left incomplete. The plan of jagamohana is square in contradistinction to its rectangular counterparts of earlier temples. Like sanctum, its interior is also devoid of any workmanship. Extensive conservation appears to have been carried out on jagamohana in the later period before taking over by Archaeological Survey of India.

The monument is noted for its exuberant sculptural wealth of which the naga-nagi sthambha, saiva dwarapalas on the entrance door jambs, sculpture of Lakulisa on the lintel of entrance above which is the architrave of Navagrahas are worth mentioning. The presence of Lakulisa, saiva dwarapalas tend to prove its saivite affiliation.

The best preserved and the most outstanding sculptural wealth of the temple are the standing astadikpalas on the central façade of kanika appearing on the jangha portion of the bada clad in diaphanous drapery, they stand on lotus with their mounts below. Among the dikpalas, the intact Varuna is remarkable for its body ornamentation, coiffure and facial expression. Scenes of marriage of Siva, Nataraja, Parvati are some of the important cult images of the temple.

The celebrity of the Rajarani temple is also a large extent due to the tall slender sophisticated nayikas gracing the walls of the sanctum particularly on the anurahapagas of the lower jangha carved in bold relief, depicted in various roles and moods in amorous dalliance with actions such as turning her head from an emaciated ascetic, fondling her child, holding a branch of tree, attending to her toilet, looking into mirror, taking off her anklet, caressing her pet bird and playing instrument, etc. These nayikas are vivacious and lively with their fascinating facial expressions and elastic movements.

The erotic (mithuna) figures carved in high relief on the projecting pagas of the uparajangha are quite notable. Besides, the other most popular decorative motifs are carved out in the shape of vyala, jagrata and gajakranta. Further, the most dominant scroll motifs are the foliages, creepers and vines (vanalata) and each contains lush foliage independent of any stalk or vine.On the basis of sculptural art architectural style this temple is assignable to circa mid 11th cent. A.D.

The monument remains open from sunrise to sunset. Entry fee for each Indian citizen is Rs. 25.00, foreign visitor has to pay Rs. 300.00 each while children below the age of 15 years are not charged any entry fee.

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