Photographer's Note

The sculpture of Mukteswara temple is an important as it assimilates both the early and later architectural styles of Kalinga. Features from both the schools have been successfully combined in this temple architecture. According to historical data the Mukteswara temple was built in 950 AD at Bhubaneshwar. It is devoted to Lord Shiva and carved with figures of ascetics in several poses of meditation. The most significant feature of the temple is the glorious torana - the decorative gateway, an arched masterpiece, evocative of Buddhist authority in Orissa.

The Mukteswara TempleDating back to the 10th century, the Mukteswara Temple is considered the gem of Orissan architecture. The sculptured gateway, the jagamohana comprising the diamond shaped latticed windows and decorated interiors and the surplus of sculptural work ahs made it a favourite amongst the travelers too. The gateway of Mukteswara Temple rises to a height of 35 feet and sculptures have been displayed in its every inch. This kinf d of a gateway is an example of the early Kalinga architecture. The temple has also been illustrated as a dream brought to life in sandstone and a monument where sculpture and architecture are in absolute conformity with one another. The jagamohana has been built in a developing pyramid pattern. It seems to be climbing into the air. Such elements were introduced in the later era.

Arched gateway of the Mukteswara Temple The sculpture of Mukteswara temple is elegant. The beautiful sculptures eloquently speak of the sense of proportion and perspective of the sculptor and their unique ability in the exact depiction of the minutest objects. The builders of Mukteswara Temple introduced new architectural designs, new art motifs and new conceptions about the iconography of the cult images. There are a number of depictions of skeletal ascetics among the sculptural images, most of them shown in teaching or meditation poses, which seems appropriate as the name Mukteswara means "Lord who gives freedom through Yoga".

The sculpture of Mukteswara temple also include elements like elaborately carved Gods and Goddesses, kings and queens, animals and flower motifs. In fact the Mukteswara temple is on of the most skillfully ornamented, most compact, smallest and ornately carved in Orissa. On the doorframe one can observe the carvings of the local saint, Lakulisa. Its earthy red sandstone body is coated with intricate carvings, depicting famished, lean looking Sadhus (holy men) to voluptuous women bedecked with jewels.

Another characteristic feature of Mukteswara temple is the arched gateway also called "torana." This illustrates the influence of Buddhist architecture. This thick pillared, arched gateway is magnificently carved with elaborate scrolls, graceful female figures, monkeys, peacocks, and a wealth of delicate and lovely ornamental detail.

In the yard stands the Kedareswar Temple, with a striking 8 feet statue of Ram Bhakt Hanuman with its petite dimension (10.5m height) and red stone brickwork; it is another glorious synthesis of the old and recent styles of the Kalinga School. With a fully developed pancharatha for the main sanctuary and a nascent pidha superstructure in the shape of a stepped pyramid, every inch of the exterior consists of elegant and discrete carvings, such as the clear cut lacings of the chaitya windows. The rounded edges of the pagas (segments) furnish the temple with an appeasing look. Both the temple and the porch stand on a low pedestal surrounded by a low wall with offset projections and sculptured exterior facing west. The porch is notable for the sculptural treatment of the interior - a rare feature in Orissan Temples.

On the outer face of the compound wall are niches containing a variety of sculpted Hindu deities. These include Saraswati (sitting on a lotus with two female attendants by her side), Ganesha (with his attendant mouse), and Lakulisha (the fifth 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, asserts the synthesis, which was a part of Orissan religious life.

The sculpture and architecture of Mukteswara temple are, hence, popular for their profundity and beauty.


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Additional Photos by Andrzej Urbaniec (Deepforest) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 449 W: 57 N: 962] (9260)
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