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Sonia Wigh Jul 02 2013

Which are the popular monuments in Orissa?

Debangana Sen Jul 02 2013
0 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

The monumental heritage of Odisha would put to shame many of the architectural marvels of modern times. Temples in Odisha are not merely abodes of deities but a tribute to nature and beauty. Most temples are embellished with ornamental carvings depicting birds, animals, trees, flowers, kings and queens, gods and goddesses and mythological characters. Listed below are a few popular monuments of Odisha worth visiting once in a lifetime.


“The language of man is here defeated by the language of stone”, is how Rabindranath Tagore described this magnificent monument. A symphony in stone, this masterpiece of Kalinga architecture is perhaps one of the finest monuments erected by mankind. Legends speak of a vast army of labourers, 1,200 masons tirelessly working for 16 years, an expensive budget of 12 years’ state revenue and of course the ambition of King Narasimhava Deva, thus making Konark as an enigma.

The monument not only evokes admiration but amazement as well. A shrine for connoisseurs of art, Konark is a poem on celebrating life. Built in the form of a massive celestial chariot with 12 wheels and drawn by seven horses, every bit of this monument is carved to the minute detail. Deities, musicians, nymphs, birds and animals, amorous couples, scenes of royal procession, military expeditions and in fact, almost many facets of everyday life are depicted in stone. There can be as many interpretations as to the number of depictions. Konark, currently maintained by ASI has been declared a heritage site by UNESCO and conservation efforts are underway.


A fine example of excellent craftsmanship, the Rajarani temple has interesting theories put forward by historians for this unusual name; while some maintain that it was a pleasure resort of some ancient king and queen (Raja and Rani), others say that the name is derived from the particular variety of yellow sandstone (locally called Rajarania) used in the temple. Although its history is mired in controversy, officially it is said to have been built by the Somavamsi rulers in 11th century AD.

The most striking aspect is the cluster of miniature temple spires (anga-shikharas) around the main spire. Standing on an elevated, elegant platform, there are a profusion of intricate carvings of floral, animal and human figurines. This embellishment is the hallmark of Rajarani temple which depicts beauty in various forms – the most alluring being nayikas (damsels) in different amorous poses. Another notable feature is the intricate carvings of the eight divine guardians – Indra,
Yama, Nrriti, Varuna, Vayu, Kubera and Ishana.


This magnificent gateway or torana is supported by two pillars, and the entire archway is profusely decorated with reclining females and bands of delicate scrollwork. This 10th century temple has a pancharatha plan or five-sectioned form. It has a square jagamohan (porch) with a decorated ceiling, carved into a lotus with eight petals.

Both the temple and jagamohan stand on a low plinth, enclosed by a low octagonal wall with projections. The niches contain sculptures of wheels, lotus or a scroll. Besides deities and nayikas, sculptures on the temple wall include striking geometrical and floral designs. The Mukteswhar complex has a small well called Marichi Kund, the waters of which are considered sacred, as it is believed to cure women of infertility.


The Khandagiri and Udaygiri caves in Bhubaneswar are Jain heritage monuments. A flight of stone steps lead to the Khandagiri hill which has a Jain temple on the top (dedicated to Rishabnath). The Udaygiri hills have rows of rock cut shelters said to be used as dwelling places for Jain monks. Most of the caves have carvings which are mostly Jain emblems or court scenes and royal expeditions.

The largest and most beautiful cave is the Rani Gumpha (Queen’s cave), a double storied structure with pillars and beautiful carvings. In all, 18 caves have been identified and numbered, and some of them have interesting identification like the Hathi Gumpha, the Ganesh Gumpha, Bagh Gumpha and Jaya-Vijaya Gumpha. As the names suggest, there are depictions of animals, royal processions and inscriptions relating to the reign of Kharavela.

These were some of our top picks for the best monuments in Orissa. These temples and the Buddhist heritage sites with the double storied monasteries and the large stupas, are excellent examples of fine craftsmanship.

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