Lesser known Bhubaneswar Temples - Part III (Odisha)

As the sun was almost setting, my next stop was Mukteswara Temple which is considered the ‘Gem of Orissan Architecture’… This was built around 970 CE built with an early Somavasi style. The Vimana (tower) is a 5 part rekha deul and the jagmohana’s roof is pyramid styled! This temple shares the compound with Siddheswara Temple and 6 other smaller temples.

The most important aspect of Mukteswara Temple is its gorgeous arch called Torana, which is an ornamental gateway. This is such a unique feature that this has never been done before or repeated ever after this. This has 2 massive, identical, cylindrical 16 faceted pillars. At the bottom there’s a relief depicting a miniature temple with a 5 layered tower. Above this, its plain and then there’s a beautiful pearl strand design from kirthimukha (a mythical face). Atop it is the lotus pattern. Atop that is the stunning monolithic arch! It has a yaali on either sides, a woman on either sides gracefully reclining on the arch, and several animals & floral pattern. 

The 2nd most important feature is the ceiling of the inner mandapa. This is in 5 layers - innermost is square, outermost is rectangular and rest 3 are octagonal. The inner square houses the circular dome which has an 8 petal lotus with Sapthamatrika in each petal with Veerabadhra. The octagons depict Ganesha, Karthikeya, dancers, musicians, meditating women, nagas etc.

The exterior of the deula is perhaps the best example of the circular geometric pattern called Gavakshas. The Gods depicted all around include Lakulisa, Saraswati, Varahi, Gaja Samhara Murthy, Karthikeya, Ganesha etc. The lattice windows on either sides are a thing of beauty! The lower section has friezes of deer, monkeys etc. I wrapped my day as darkness plunged in and began early next day.

My first stop was Raja Rani Temple. To begin with it has a beautiful garden in front out it with a pathway around which served as a joggers park! And at that very time, it was also serving as the perfect location for a couple for their pre-wedding photoshoot!!! I did feel bad for bombarding with my gang in their romantic location!!!

This was built in late 10th C - 11th C CE, by the Somavanshi Kings. The whole of the Deula is just a masterpiece!!! It has the Gods of the 8 directions, in the 8 directions incl Indra, Agni, Yama, Varuna, Kubera, Vayu etc. Between them are the sculptures of beautiful women shown holding child, beautifying herself, as Salabhanjika holding a tree and some in erotic poses as well! The Jagmohana is completely plain when compared to this.
As I was around the deula, I spotted a couple of Alexandrine parakeets as well and then I spotted a miniature sculpture on the deula, of a woman talking to her parakeet!!! That’s a Rs.1 coin beside her, so it’s easier to relate to the size of the sculpture!!!

The miniature sculptures all around is just impeccable. In many a places I did keep a Rs.1 coin beside it, to show you the size of the miniature (and ofcourse for my own reference in future)!!! The musical ‘Purusha Mirugam’ was rather intriguing. What totally took me aback was, just like the women holding kids, there were also depictions of some men holding their kids!!! 
At one point, the exact segregation point between the Deula and Jagmohana, the point at which the sculptural detailing was abruptly stopped was very much visible. The lines for the grid pattern has been done, but it has not been completed and the reason unknown - may be war, epidemic, money issues, we don't know!!!

From here my next stop was Bhaskareswara Temple. This was a rather weird architecture compared to everything else! It was built in early 13th C CE. This is rather very plain when compared to anything seen so far. The whole temple is on a raised platform and it has a small deula. 
Staircases lead to the entrance of the temple located atop the platform. There is a tall Siva linga inside. However it is believed by some historians that it is actually a broken Ashokan Pillar. This site, being in the vicinity of Buddhist Complexes, adds to the doubt. However any research on the Siva Linga / Ashokan Pillar has not been carried out, as it is in worship…

My final stop was just a look into the small temple complex of Lakshmaneshwara, Shatruganeshwara and Bharateshwara. Also located here are Labakeshwara and Kusakeswara… This is located just opposite to the larger temple of Rameshwara. These are tiny and still in worship. Mostly rebuilt out of ruins, and currently in worship. However some panels were very interesting and worth a look, incl the lintels, door jams, a mighty Karthikeya and this Lajja Gauri! ......and that wraps up the Bhubaneswar temples series!

Tips & To Stay: Refer to my earlier post

To Get There:
Nearest Railway Station: Bhubaneswar
Nearest Airport: Bhubaneswar
On Google Maps: Mukteswara Temple, Raja Rani TempleBhaskareswara TempleShatruganeshwara Temple


An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands


  1. Wow, these temples look so impressive. They are full of history and I'd love to visit them. Especially after your great article and pictures.

  2. Interesting post! I can't just imagine the work that came with building the temples!. Your detailed description of the Bhubaneswar Temples made me want to see them personally, too! :) I'm sure I'll spend hours just looking at the structure...Why are these lesser known?

  3. Lovely post, amazing photos and stories of the Temple.

  4. The Raja Rani Temple looks fantastic! The architecture and detail are something else. Great article and photos

  5. Beautiful temples, Bhubaneswar is full of temples like these.

  6. Wow, all of these look impressive. Real hidden gems. Thanks for sharing

  7. Bhubaneshwar have really amazing temples & I sometimes wonder how these perfect stone carving was done during those times, when there was no machines.
    I really have to explore more of India.

  8. That Torana arch doesn't look monolithic to me. Seems to be made up of multiple stones.

    But, quibbling aside, these carvings and temples look to be in very good nick, and beautiful to boot. Well worth a visit!

  9. Such a beautiful heritage. I love visiting these kind of temples with rich carvings and statues. And also for what a detail is hidden behind them. Like that mandap carving you described with its layers. These temples bring us closer to our culture and heritage

  10. What an amazing place to visit! I love that you saw the sculpture of the woman and parakeet after seeing parakeets ... perfect!

  11. Such a beautiful place! And wow, so many details! I could easily spend a day there just looking at them and wondering around. I haven't been to India yet but hopefully soon. I hope I get to visit this place too.

  12. Those ruins are so beautiful! I love all the details. My favorite has to be when you saw the parakeets and then noticed a sculpture of a woman holding a parakeet.

    1. Not all of them are ruins though. A majority of ancient temples in Bhubaneswar (and Odisha at large; ancient temples dot the length and breadth of the state) are living temples where people still go to worship.

  13. Another very interesting post on these temples. So clever that you put the coin there to give some perspective to size. All those details are amazing!

  14. The Torana archway is unique being the only one in the world, definitely a shot for Instagram! You've photographed these temples wonderfully, you had perfect lighting when you went. The parakeets landing on the side of the temple were a treat, the green goes well there!

  15. You have done a nice temple tour in Bhubaneswar which are not known. I loved Raja rani temple and their statues. Also women talking to parakeet is interesting and incidentally two real parrots are also watching it. Such a nice capture.

  16. Absolutely adore how the parrots have made a home in the architecture. The Mukhteswara temple really is beautiful and the carvings ans statues are just amazingly good. It's so nice that you really took the time to explore all the nooks and corners and photograph them.

  17. This is such an interesting post! I like the name of the place "Gem of Orissan Architecture". The architecture and statue are amazing and beautiful. Also, I love how detailed it is in these architecture!

  18. Wow, the carvings are beautiful! I have to agree with on Torana of the Mukhteswara Temple is one of the best aspects, so much care is taken to add every single detail. I am equally amazed with the overall miniature carvings.

  19. What a coincidence! I just finished posting a small blogpost on the Mukteswara temple. Found it exquisitely beautiful. We could not visit other temples due to lack of time so am going through a tour of them through your blog :)


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