Bhubaneswar is one of those rare places which beautifully strike a balance between the ancient and modern worlds. The state capital of Odisha and best known as “the city of temples” houses around more than 700 temples and still many are slowly being uncovered. It is especially the old town area which houses a modest number of temples in the vicinity.
The famous “Rajarani temple” is one of them. Built around 11th – 12th century, it is believed that this temple architecture was instrumental in the style of many temples in Central India – the most notable being Khajuraho. I could easily draw some similarities between their respective styles.
This write-up is more of a self-help guide and provides you with all the necessary information you need to know for a visit. Rest, a plethora of literature is available on the temple in detail by noted researchers.
- Entry Fee – Rs 25 (Revised, Internet might show Rs 5)
- Timings – Open till 9 PM (Internet might show till 5 PM)
- Duration – 30 to 60 minutes
- Distance from Railway station – Approx 3.8 km
- Distance from airport – Approx 3.6 km
- NOTE: The temple is well connected with most routes and a number of local buses/shared autos ply from different points in the town till the temple. Else hire a cab or taxi to reach the famous temple. *Timings and entry fee are from February 2020.*
Significance of the name “Rajarani” temple
- The temple is said to have derived it’s name from the red and yellow sandstone called Rajarania used for the construction. The current texture reflects shades of amber which beautifully decks up this timeless structure.
- There is another popular belief around the name of the temple. The presence of Naga and Nagini at the temple entrance who are considered to be the king (Raja) and queen (Rani) leads to the name “Rajarani”. This theory is more of a myth among locals and not supported by professionals.
History and Architecture of Rajarani temple
Most probably built around the 11th-12th centuries (earlier than the other ones), it has stood the test of time over years. The current structure has many renovated portions (since 1903) though beautifully blend with the original form.
Historians attribute the temple construction to Somavansi kings who migrated from Central India to Odisha. The seemingly small temple is a classic example of the Kalinga architectural style yet displays a distinction from others. Like most of the temples in Odisha, the architectural style consists of two parts – Inner sanctum (Vimana or Deula) and Outer sanctum (Jagmohana).
- The Vimana is mostly surrounded by a cluster of miniature towers unlike the other Bhubaneswar temples. The notable similarity with Kandariya Mahadev temple, Khajuraho lies in their symmetrical and clear pattern.
- The Jagamohana portion of the temple is structured in a pyramidal style and designed in square form, not rectangular unlike the other temples of this period.
The walls are carved with beautiful images notably depicting the marriage of Shiva and Parvati and Nataraja among others. Many scholars believe these to be ample evidence of the Shaivism bent of followers. The temple is of unique historical importance and currently maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as a ticketed monument.
Unique features of “Rajarani” temple
- It is the only temple in Bhubaneswar with a unique name. Most temples here are dedicated to Lord Shiva (their names ending with “Iswara”). Interestingly, this temple is believed to have been originally known as “Indreswara“; however, later it became popular with it’s current name.
- The erotic carvings in the temple is said to be the reason for it being locally known as “Love temple” of Odisha.
- The temple doesn’t represent any particular sect of Hinduism and mostly the walls are adorned with beautiful art and visual representation of love.
- The temple has a visible absence of any deity in the inner sanctum and it’s outer walls.
Rajarani Music Festival
Odisha has an undisputed love for it’s culture, history and traditions. It marks several renowned music and dance festivals in the winter months, the most pleasant time to visit the state.
One such three day annual music festival “Rajarani Music Festival” is celebrated in the Rajarani temple premises every year in January. Over the years, this customary celebration has attracted locals and tourists across the globe. Against the beautiful backdrop of this 11th century masterpiece; many renowned vocalists, instrumentalists and music legends lit the evenings with their soulful renditions.
Often, in the pursuit to travel far, we miss the hidden treasures in our own cities and towns. In the process of exploring my hometown and around, I am rediscovering them…
Glimpse of temple from the exit gate:
Cover pic credit: Prateek Dash
The information provided is based on firsthand experience and online research (for historical facts). For any further queries, feel free to leave a comment below or email. I will revert at the earliest.
Related Post: Exploring the Temple Town of “Khajuraho” (Part – 1)