Fundamentals of Kalingan Temple Architecture

Architecture in India like any other art form was adored and nurtured since ancient times. The Architectural ability of Ancient Odisha is world renowned and second to none. Temple apart from being the Abode of the worshipped is also the cultural capital of civilizations since eternity. As God's are treated as the royal emperor in Odisha temples have separate significance in Odia culture. Not only a place of worship or a sight of architectural wonders, Temple Tales have their own chapters in the books of Odia folk tales.

Dated in 10th-11th century CE, Silpaprakasha one of the ancient texts authored by Ramachandra Kaulachara, contains substantial information on Kalingan Temple architecture. Silpaprakasha contains guidelines on overall temple construction, from the base of the temple to its top.

Most of the Kalingan temple also colloquially known to be ‘Deula’ consists of

  • Sanctum where an Idol or Linga is placed known as Garvagruha.
  • Hall where devotees can view the lord known as Jagamohana.

In the comparatively older temple due to lack of coherent joint between the Jagamohana and the Garvagruha, many historians concluded the Jagamohana to be a later addition to the main sanctuary. However, in many later build Kalingan temples Examples of Jagamohana getting constructed simultaneously with the Garvagruha is very much there. Also, as with time when cultural gathering became regular affairs in the temple premises further structure like Nata-Mandira (dance hall) and Bhoga Mandapa were added.

In a typical Kalingan Style temple across any subgroup, starting from the ground to the top, four different divisions were made. Pistha, being the 1st layer, is the platform over which the entire structure of the temple stands. Bada, the second of the division, is the vertical wall over which the tower is supported. Gandi is the lower part of the tower and mastaka is the upper part of the towers.

Entrance doorway of many sanctums (Garbha-Grha) usually carry Nava-Graha (nine planets) and GajaLakhmi in Lalitasana as the central protective image over the lintel. Many Older Temples (built before the Keshari Dynasty Soma Banshi Rulers) also carry Asta-Graha (8 Planets) in the entrance.

The Kalingan temple architecture can mainly be divided into 3 sub categories. Rekha Deula, Pidha Deula and Kakharua Deula.

Rekha Deula
The Garvagruha of most of the renowned temples in Odisha are of the Rekha Deula group. Justifying its name Rekha Deula are straight upward as if a straight line in its constructional approach and are distinguished with its square plan topped with a curvilinear tower. Being predominantly the style of most of the Garbhagruha the Rekha Deula are generally taller than the Pidha Deula. Notable examples are the Garvagruha of the Jagannath temple and the Lingaraj temple. The now ruined Konarka Sun Temple Garbhagruha was also of Rekha Deula style.

Pidha Deula
A Pidha Deula, associated mainly with the Jagamohana, also referred as Bhadra Deula has a square top with a pyramidal tower composed of horizontal tiers arranged in receding manner. The number of Pidhas varies between 1 to 23 across different temples in Odisha. Older the temple, the less the Pidhas can be observed. The remaining of the Konarka temple (the Jagamohana) is of the Pidha Deula style.

Kakharua Deula
Kakharua Deula also known as Khakara Deula is a rectangular building with a barrel-shaped (vault-shape) roof. The name comes from Kakharu (gourd) because of the shape of the roof. Mostly The temples of the ancient Shakti Pithas (feminine deities) are temples of this type. Baitala temple of Bhubaneswar and Barahi temple of Chaurasi are two classic examples of the Baitala temple.

Apart from the above mentioned three types of temple architecture one fourth hypaethral temple architecture is also noticed in Odisha. Chausathi Jogini temples of Hirapur near Bhubaneswar and Ranipur, Jharial are two distinct examples of this kind of architecture. The Chausathi Jogini temple Hirapur is considered as the 1st of all the Chausathi Jogini temple found across India.

Kalingan temple architecture has attracted wonderers across globes to its vast yet intricate carvings and remains a topic of many curiosity and many myths. Apart from the Hindu temple architecture the Buddhist monuments and Jaina Gumphas of ancient Odisha are also a subject of interest for the world. But as a piece of writing that deals with basic understanding of Kalingan temple architecture, let us wrap this text here.

REFERENCES:Various Sources

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