RajaRani Temple


Rajarani Temple is an 11th-century Hindu temple located in Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha, India. The temple is believed to have been known originally as Indreswara. It is locally known as a "love temple" because of the erotic carvings of women and couples in the temple. Rajarani Temple is built in the pancharatha style on a raised platform with two structures: a central shrine called the vimana (sanctum) with a bada over its roof rising to a height of 18 m (59 ft), and a viewing hall called jagamohana with a pyramidal roof. The temple was constructed of dull red and yellow sandstone locally called "Rajarani". There are no images inside the sanctum, and hence it is not associated with a specific sect of Hinduism but broadly classified as Saivite based on the niches.

Various historians place the original construction date between the 11th and 12th centuries, and have placed it roughly belonging to the same period as the Jagannath Temple at Puri. The architecture of other temples in central India is believed to have originated with this temple, the notable ones being the Khajuraho temples and Totesvara Mahadeo temple in Kadawa.There are various sculptures in the walls around the temple, and the vimana, depicting scenes of the marriage of Shiva, Nataraja, Parvati, and include tall, slender, sophisticated nayikas in various roles and moods such as turning her head from an emaciated ascetic, fondling her child, holding a branch of tree, attending to her toilet, looking into a mirror, taking off her anklet, caressing her pet bird and playing a musical instrument. Rajarani Temple is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as a ticketed monument.

The highlight of the temple is the fine sculptures of dikpalas or guardians of the eight directions carved around the shrine. Dressed in diaphanous drapery they stand on lotuses, with their mounts below. Starting from East we encounter successively-Indra (lord of the East) holding a thunderbolt and an elephant goad, with the elephant below; the potbellied and beared Agni (southeast), god of fire, with the ram; Yama (South) holding a staff and a noose, with his vehicle the buffalo; Nirriti (southwest), the god of misery, holds a severed head and a sword above a prostrate figure; Varuna (West) holding a noose in his left hand, his vehicle is makara or the crocodile; Vayu (northwest) holding a banner and his vehicle is deer; Kubera (North) placed above seven jars of gems, he has a horse and Isana (northeast) shown with an erect phallus by the side of an emaciated figure. Of these the Agni and the Varuna are particularly impressive.

The Rajarani temple is also famous for the tall and slender nayikas (temple figures) carved in high relief on the walls-figures in amorous dalliance and in such acts as fondling her child, looking into the mirror, taking off her anklet, caressing the bird, playing instrument, holding branches of trees etc. The Rajarani takes its name from the local sandstone used to built it. The temple no longer has an image of the deity in the sanctuary but its strong Saiva associations are testified from the figures of Shiva and his consort Parvati on the platform and Saiva doorkeepers.

History


Based on the sculptural architectural style, the temple is dated to the mid-11th century.Brown groups the temple along with Anant Vasudev Temple and places it around the 11th–12th centuries. Another survey of Orissa temples carried out by S. K. Saraswati in 1953 yielded a similar date.Panigrahi, who did a comprehensive analysis of Orissan temples, gives an unspecified date between Lingaraj Temple and Mukteswara Temple.Fergusson believes construction of the temple was begun by around 1105.George Michell believes the temple was built during the same time as Lingaraja Temple.Rajarani Temple roughly belongs to the same period as the Jagannath Temple at Puri. The architecture of other temples in central India originated from the temple. The notable ones in the category are the Khajuraho temples and Totesvara Mahadeo temple in Kadawa.Scholars believe based on the style that the temple might have been built by Somavamsi kings who migrated from Central Indis to Orissa during the period.Rajarani temple is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as a ticketed monument.

It is pancharatha in plan with a curvilinear superstructure 18m(55 ft) tall. The vimana is clustered by miniature towers with double crowning elements and appears round, unlike other temples in Bhubaneswar, but like the towers of Khajuraho temples. The vimana (sanctum) measures 10.25 ft (3.12 m)*10.25 ft (3.12 m) from the inside, 31 ft (9.4 m)*29 ft (8.8 m) from the outside.Its spire is decorated with clusters of turrets (replication of the spire itself) emerging form the rib of the spire. The temple has panchanga bada or five divisions namely, pabhaga, talajangha, bandhana, uparajangha and baranda. The lowermost division is called pabhaga having five decorative mouldings namely, khura, kumbha, patta, kani and basanta. The superstructure (gandi) of the temple has a number of miniature turrets (angasikharas). The superstructure is crowned with a fluted disc shaped architectural members called amalaka and a vase (kalasa) surmounts it as the crowning finial.

The jagamohana (porch) though demonstrating a pyramidal structure is yet to take on as a complete structure of its own. It bears signs of repair in 1903 when it collapsed into ruins. The jagamohana measures 17.83 ft (5.43 m)*17.83 ft (5.43 m) from the inside and 36 ft (11 m)*36 ft (11 m) from the outside.The tiered (pidha) jagamohana and the interior is plain, possibly left incomplete. The plan of jagamohana is square compared to the rectangular ones present in earlier temples.

The sculptures have a depth that was lacking in the Mukteswara Temple sculptures.The gateway in a clockwise direction around the porch and the deul to end back at the torana (entrance).The other noted sculptures are naga-nagi sthambha, saiva dwarapalakas on the entrance doorjambs and Lakulisa on the lintel of entrance above which is the architrave of Navagrahas are present. The best preserved sculpture of the temple are the standing astadikpalas on the central façade of kanika appearing on the jangha portion of the bada clad in diaphanous drapery. The image of Varuna is intact and notable for its body ornamentation, coiffure and facial expression. Scenes of marriage of lord Shiva, lord Nataraja, goddess Parvati are the cult images present in the temple. There are tall slender sophisticated nayikas gracing the walls of the sanctum depicted in various roles and moods in amorous dalliance with actions such as turning her head from an emaciated ascetic, fondling her child, holding a branch of tree, attending to her toilet, looking into mirror, taking off her anklet, caressing her pet bird and playing instrument. There are also erotic (mithuna) figures carved in high relief on the projecting portions of the uparajangha. The other decorative motifs are carved in the shape of vyala, jagrata and gajakranta. The scroll motifs are the foliages, creepers and vines (vanalata), each containing lush foliage independent of any stalk or vine.


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