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Lingaraj Temple of Bhubaneshwar in the Indian State of Odisha

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ॐ श्री गुरुभ्यो नमः ॐ श्री शिवानन्दाय नमः ॐ श्री चिदानन्दाय नमः ॐ श्री दुर्गायै नमः 

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Lingaraja Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Hindu God Shiva and is one of the oldest temples in Bhubaneswar, the capital of the Indian state of Odisha.

The temple is the most prominent landmark of Bhubaneswar city and one of the major tourist attractions of the state. The Lingaraja temple is the largest temple in Bhubaneswar. The central tower of the temple is 180 ft (55 m) tall.

The temple represents the quintessence of the Kalinga architecture and culminating the medieval stages of the architectural tradition at Bhubaneswar.

The temple is believed to be built by the kings from the Somavamsi dynasty, with later additions from the Ganga rulers. The temple is built in the Deula style that has four components namely, Vimana (structure containing the sanctum), Jagamohana (assembly hall), natamandira (festival hall) and bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings), each increasing in the height to its predecessor.

The temple complex has 50 other shrines and is enclosed by a large compound wall.    Bhubaneswar is called the Ekamra Kshetra as the deity of Lingaraja was originally under a mango tree (Ekamra) as noted in Ekamra Purana, a 13th-century Sanskrit treatise.

The temple is active in worship practises, unlike most other temples in Bhubaneswar and Shiva is worshipped as Harihara, a combined form of Vishnu and Shiva. The temple has images of Vishnu, possibly because of the rising prominence of Jagannath sect emanating from the Ganga rulers who built the Jagannath Temple in Puri in the 12th century.  

Lingaraja temple is maintained by the Temple Trust Board and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The temple has an average of 6,000 visitors per day and receives lakhs of visitors during festivals. Shivaratri festival is the major festival celebrated in the temple and event during 2012 witnessed 200,000 visitors.

The temple compound is not open to non-Hindus, but there is a viewing platform beside the wall offering a good view of the main exteriors. This was originally erected for a visit by Lord Curzon when Viceroy.

A Few YouTube Videos on Lingaraj Temple, Bhubaneswar :


The Lingaraja temple is the largest temple in Bhubaneswar. It is one of the finest examples of purely Hindu temple in India.

It is enshrined within a spacious compound wall of laterite measuring 520 ft (160 m) by 465 ft (142 m). The wall is 7.5 ft (2.3 m) thick and surmounted by a plain slant coping.

Alongside the inner face of the boundary wall, there is a terrace to protect the compound wall against outside aggression. The tower is 45.11 m (148.0 ft) high, and the complex has 150 smaller shrines in its spacious courtyard.

Each inch of the 55 m (180 ft) tall tower is sculpted. The door in the gate of the entrance porch is made of sandalwood.

The Lingaraja temple faces east and is built of sandstone and laterite. The main entrance is located in the east, while there are small entrances in the north and south.

The temple is built in the Deula style that has four components namely,  Vimana (structure containing the sanctum), Jagamohana (assembly hall),  Natamandira (festival hall) and Bhoga-Mandapa (hall of offerings), with all four in axial alignment with descending height.

The dance hall was associated with the raising prominence of the Devadasi system that existed during the time. The various units from the Hall of offering to the tower of the sanctum increase in height.

The Bhogamandapa (Hall of offering) measures 42 ft (13 m)*42 ft (13 m) from the inside, 56.25 ft (17.15 m)*56.25 ft (17.15 m) from the outside and has four doors in each of the sides.

The exterior walls of the hall has decorative sculptures of men and beast. The hall has a pyramidal roof made of up several horizontal layers arranged in sets of two with intervening platform.

It bears an inverted bell and a Kalasa in the top. The Natamandira (festival hall) measures 38 ft (12 m)*38 ft (12 m) from the inside, 50 ft (15 m)*50 ft (15 m) from the outside, has one main entrance and two side entrances.

The side walls of the hall have decorative sculptures displaying women and couples. It has a flat roof sloping in stages. There are thick pylons inside the hall.

The Jagamohana (assembly hall) measures 35 ft (11 m)*30 ft (9.1 m) from the inside, 55 ft (17 m)*50 ft (15 m) from the outside, entrances from south and north and has a 30 metres (98 ft) tall roof.

The hall has a pyramidal roof made of up several horizontal layers arranged in sets of two with intervening platform as in the Hall of offering. The facade to the entrances are decorated with perforated windows with lion sitting on hind legs.

The inverted bell above second unit is adorned by kalasa and lions. The rekha deula has a 60 m (200 ft) tall pyramidal tower over the sanctum and measures 22 ft (6.7 m) *22 ft (6.7 m) from the inside, 52 ft (16 m) *52 ft (16 m) from the outside over the sanctum.

It is covered with decorative design and seated lion projecting from the walls. The sanctum is square in shape from the inside. The tower walls are sculpted with female figures in different poses.

The temple has a vast courtyard mired with hundreds of small shrines.

Religious Significance :

Bhubaneswar is called the Ekamra Kshetra as the deity of Lingaraja was originally under a mango tree (Ekamra). 

Ekamra Purana, a Sanskrit treatise of the 13th century mentions that the presiding deity was not seen as lingam (an aniconic form of Shiva) during the Satya and Treta yugas and only during the Dvapara and Kali yugas, it emerged as a lingam.

The lingam in the temple is a natural unshaped stone that rests on a Sakti. Such a lingam is called Krutibasa or Swayambhu and is found in 64 places in different parts of India.

With the advent of the Ganga dynasty in the early 12th century, during the period, it is attributed the raising prominence of Jagannath sect that became predominant during the construction of the temple.

The Gangas remodelled the temple and introduced certain Vaishnavite elements like images of Vaishnava Dwarapalas namely Jaya and Prachanda, the flag of the temple was fixed to a Pinaka bow instead of trident usually found in Shiva temples.

Festival & Worship Practices

As per Hindu legend, an underground river originating from the Lingaraja temple fills the Bindusagar Tank (meaning ocean drop) and the water is believed to heal physical and spiritual illness.

The water from the tank is thus treated sacred and pilgrims take a holy dip during festive occasions. The central deity of the temple, Lingaraja, is worshipped as Shiva.

Shivaratri is the main festival celebrated annually in Phalgun month when thousands of devotees visit the temple. Apart from a full day of fasting, Bel leaves are offered to Lingaraja on this auspicious day.

The main celebrations take place at night when devotees pray all night long. The devout usually break their fast after the Mahadipa (a huge lamp) is lit on the spire of the temple.

This festival commemorates Lingaraja having slain a demon. Thousands of  Bol Bom pilgrims carry water from river Mahanadi and walk all the way to the temple during the month of Shravana every year. 

Sunian day is observed from royal times in the month of Bhandra, a day when temple servants, peasants and other holders of temple lands offer loyalty and tribute to Lingaraja. 

Chandan Yatra (Sandalwood ceremony) is a 22-day festival celebrated in the temple when servants of the temple disport themselves in a specially made barge in Bindusagar tank.

The deities and servants of the temples are anointed with sandalwood paste to protect from heat. Dances, communal feasts, and merrymaking are arranged by the people associated with the temple.

Every year the chariot festival (Ratha-Yatra) of Lingaraja is celebrated on  Ashokashtami. The deity is taken in a chariot to Rameshwar Deula temple. Thousands of devotees follow and pull brightly decorated chariots containing the idols of Lingaraja, Gopaluni and Vasudeva.

The Lingaraja temple is active in worship practises, unlike the other ancient temples of Bhubaneshwar which are not active worship centres. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple, but it can be viewed from the viewing platform located outside the temple.

The viewing platform and the back of the temple can be reached via a laneway located to the right of the main entrance of the temple.

Sanctity of the temple is maintained by disallowing dogs, unbathed visitors, menstruating women and families that encountered birth or death in the preceding 12 days. 

In case of a foreign trespass, the temple follows a purification ritual and dumping of Prasad (food offering) in a well.

Religious Practices

The image of Lingaraja is abluted with water (called Mahasnana) several times a day and decorated with flowers, sandal paste and cloth. Hemlock or hemlock flowers which are generally offered in other Shiva temples is not allowed in the Lingaraja temple. 

Bilva leaves (Aegle marmelos) and Tulasi (Ocimum sanctum) are used in daily worship.

Offerings of cooked rice, curries and sweets are displayed in the  Bhogamandapa  (hall of offering) and the divinity is invoked to accept them amidst scores of chanting of Sanskrit texts.

Coconut, ripe plantains and kora-khai are generally offered to Lingaraja by the pilgrims. Bhang beverage is offered to Lingaraja by some devotees especially on the day of Pana Sankranti (Odia new year).

The Lingaraja temple is open from 6 a.m. to about 9 p.m. and is intermittently closed during Bhoga (food offering) to the deity. During early morning, lamps in the cella are lit to awaken Lingaraja from his sleep, ablution is performed, followed by adoration and arati (waving of light).

The temple is closed at about 12 noon until about 3.30 p.m. A ceremony is known as Mahasnana (ablution) is performed once the doors are closed, followed by pouring of Panchamrita (a mixture of milk, curdled milk, clarified butter, honey, and ghee) upon the deity for purification.

At about 1:00 pm, a ripe plantain is divided into two, one half is offered to Sun God and the other half to Dwarapala (the guarding deities in the doorway).

Between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. the food offering called Ballabha Bhoga  (breakfast containing curdled milk, curd, and vegetables) is offered to the deity. The consecrated food is carried to the temple of Parvati and placed before her as an offering, a practice commonly observed by the orthodox Hindu housewives.

At about 2 pm, the Sakala Dhupa (morning’s offering of food) takes place. After the food is offered to Lingaraja, the offerings are carried to the temple of Parvati to serve her.

An offering called Bhanda Dhupa is carried out at 3:30 p.m. at the hall of the offering. This food is later offered by the inmates to the pilgrims as  Mahaprasada.

A light refreshment known as Ballabha Dhupa is offered to the deity at around 4:30 pm. At around 5:00 pm, Dwipahar Dhupa (mid-day meal) is offered.

At around 7 pm, another offering called Palia Badu is placed before the deity. Sandhya arati (waving of lights in the evening) is performed during that time.

Another light meal called Sahana Dhupa is offered at around 8:30 pm. After the meals, the ceremony of waving light (Arati) is performed before the deity.

At 9.30 pm, the last service of the day, Bada Singara (the great decoration) is performed when the deity is decorated with flowers and ornaments after which a light food offering is made.

A wooden palanquin is laid in the room, incense is lighted, drinking water is served and prepared betel is placed. Panchabaktra Mahadeva comes to the palanquin and returns to his own abode after the Arati is performed.

This is a bronze image of Mahadeva having five faces and Parvati in his lap. Each of these ceremonies is accompanied by ritual observances and recitations of mantras (Sanskrit texts) specified for each occasion.

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

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