Rajarani Temple Popularly known as the ‘love temple’ depict scenes of marriage of Shiva and Parvati. Built by red and yellow sandstone, locally known as ‘Rajarani’. Rajarani music concert is one of most famous event happens every year at Rajarani Temple.
Bhubaneswar popularly known as the city of temples houses several ancient temples, one of them being ‘The Rajarani Temple’. The temple is small and petite. It is an 11th century temple and is famous for its intricate cravings. No other temple in Odisha portrays such fine artistry. It is popularly known as the ‘love temple’ as it displays carvings showing couples and beautiful women. The temple isn’t associated with any specific sect of Hinduism as it doesn’t have images inside the sanctum. Thus it is broadly classified as Saivite based in the niches. It is a popular tourist destination. The Rajarani Temple complex has lush green trees and squirrels running all around.
There are various sculptures on the walls of the temple. They depict scenes of marriage of Shiva and Parvati, apsaras attending to different chores etc. The Rajarani Temple is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India as a ticketed monument.
Historical Background behind the Rajarani Temple
Historians believe that the construction of this Rajarani Temple took place between 11th to 12th century. The construction and style of this temple had formed the basis of the temples in central India. The notable ones being the Khajuraho temples and Totesvara Mahadeo temple in Kadawa. Rajarani Temple roughly belongs to the same period as that of the Jagannath Temple of Puri. The temple was built by red and yellow sandstone, locally known as ‘Rajarani’. The temple is believed to have been built by the Somavamsi kings who had migrated from central India to Odisha then.
Rajarani Temple Architecture
The temples in Odisha have a peculiar style of construction. All the temples have two basic parts. One of them being the sanctum (deul or vimana) and the other being a place from where pilgrims can view the sanctum, called Jagamohana.
The vimana is 18m high and is surrounded by a cluster of miniature towers and appears round unlike other temples in Bhubaneswar. This particular resembles with the temple in Khajuraho as mentioned above this very style of architecture that migrated to central India from this place. Another feature that distinguishes this temple from other temples in Bhubaneswar is that the bada consists of five divisions instead of three divisions usually found in other temples.
The jagamohana or the porch is 5.43m from the inside and 11m from the outside. The jagamohana in this temple is square unlike the rectangular jagamohana in other temples. This structure bears signs of repair done in 1903 when it was ruined.
The Rajarani Temple is as beautiful as a dream. There is no deity housed inside the temple. Visitors have the liberty to go inside the temple and explore its interior hassle-free. The temple is adorned by naga and nagin entwined on the columns along the entrance. On entering the temple a broad passage leads to a sanctum. The black and dim interior of the temple gives it a divine look.
Theories Suggesting the Religious Significance of the Temple
Several theories exist which lay the foundation of the religious significance of the Rajarani Temple. Some suggest that it’s a temple dedicated to Vishnu whereas others suggest that it’s a Shiva temple.
The upper plinth of the temple which is carved like a lotus with its petals suggest that it is a Vishnu temple.
But there also exists certain features that establishes its existence as being a Shiva temple. This can be inferred by the existence of snakes at the entrance. The lintel of jagamohana showcases the image of Lakulisha, founder of Pasupatha sect of Shaivism. The temple also exhibits carvings of Shiva and Parvati dancing and their marriage.
There are local theories to this confusion too but they are not accepted by historians. One of them being that the existence of naga and nagin at the entrance signifies the king and queen of the temple. This led to the name ‘Rajarani’ of the temple.
Rajarani Temple Festivals
Every year a Rajarani music concert is organized from January 18 to 20 by the Department of Tourism of the Government of Odisha. This festival was started in the year 2003. The three day festival at Rajarani Temple hosts classical music shows. Singers from all over the country come to take part in this festival. The main objective behind this festival is to showcase the cultural and traditional heritage of the state of Odisha. Celebrity artists like Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffar Khan, Sanjeev Abhaynkar, Pandit Hariprasad Chausaria and Ustad Dilshad Khan to name a few have alredy performed in this concert in the previous years. The festival is an extravagant affair and showcases the three classical music traditions of India-Hindustani, Carnatic and Odissi.
A Traveler’s Guide to Rajarani Temple
Rajarani temple is very famous for its calm environment, striking temple architecture and the music festival. It is situated in the capital city of Odisha, Bhubaneswar. The temple is open from 6:30am till 7pm. It is ticketed. Indian nationals above the age of 15 years must pay INR 15 and foreigners INR 200.
The temple is 20km away from Bhubaneswar railway station and 5km away from the nearest airport.
One can find a number of affordable hotels nearby and enjoy a comfortable stay at Bhubaneswar.
Once there one can enjoy visiting other temples. Some of these include Lingraj Temple, Mukteswar Temple, Parasurameshwara temple and Yameshwar Temple.