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  • Nishant Singh

Kalinga School of Architecture: Crafty Hands that Infused Life into Dead Stones

Architecture is the physical embodiment of the aesthetic values and creative genius of human beings. Since time immemorial, human civilization has created architectural marvels across the world, some of which have become timeless and immortal. These monumental visual treats are the testimony of time and space, which provided the inspiring impetus to create something that stood the test of time. India is an interesting land of a curious blend of different cultures and traditions being part of its evolution from the Indus valley civilization, passing through the ancient period to medieval Islamic influence to the modern age of occidental influence of the west. Thus, across the length and breadth of this ancient civilization, spread over a sub-continent, one finds fascinating visual treats of architectural beauties adorning this land of spiritual and cultural melting pot called India. And these are the cultural heritage, which we proudly showcase to the world as our treasure troves.

There are 3 schools of Architecture in India such as Nagara, Dravida, and Vesara School of Architecture. Kalinga School is a sub-school of Nagara School of Architecture, having independent variations and drawing some influence from Dravida School of Architecture as well. Kalinga is the ancient name for Odisha. Silpapraksha, a treatise on Odiya Temple architecture was written by Ramchandra Kulachara, who was a contemporary of King Viravarman. Although variations exist from temple to temple, some common traits are discernible. Exterior walls are lavishly decorated, whereas interior walls are plain. There is no use of pillars. Temple Complexes house Vimana (Structure containing Sanctum Sanctorum, where the presiding deity is housed), besides that Jagmohan (Assembly Hall), Natamandira (Festival Hall), BhogaMandapa (Hall of Offering) are the other structures. There are 2 main components of Temple Construction. Deula (Main Shrine) and Jagmohan (Hall). There are 3 types of Deula:

a) RekhaDeula: All structures are in a straight line (Rekha) i., e. Lingaraj, Bhubaneshwar.

b) PidhaDeula: Square base structure, capped with Pyramid-shaped roof i., e Sun Temple, Puri, and other Jagmohan Temples.

c) KhakraDeula: Rectangular base with truncated “Gopuram” shape i.,e Gauri Temple, Bhubaneshwar.

The following are the four major temple architectures, which gives distinct flavors of Odisha’s diverse cultural heritage.

Jagannath Temple(12th Century AD)

Built by Ganga Dynasty ruler, ChodaGanga Dev, the temple personifies the Odia culture and the famous Jagannath cult. The living deity, Lord Jagannath is popularly known as lives in this ancient temple. The annual Rathyatra is a world-famous event, which happens every year in this holy town when the three presiding deities come out of the temple to visit their aunt’s place called Sri Gundicha temple. It is one of the 4 dhams (Holiest places of pilgrimage for Hindus). The main temple complex consists of Vimana, Jagmohana, Natamandapa, and Bhogamandapa. It is situated in the coastal province of Odisha, Puri, which is thronged by thousands of devotees from across the world every day to get a glimpse of their most revered deity, Lord Jagannath.

Lingaraj Temple (11th Century AD)

It was built by Somavamshi Dynasty, whose rulers were Shaivites. The temple was given a makeover under the Ganga Dynasty and Vaishnavite features were subsequently added. Hence the temple deity is also called HariHara (Hari - Vishnu, Hara - Shiv). The presiding deity is a Linga(Iconic form of Shiva). It is made up of Laterite and sandstone. The temple complex consists of Vimana, Jagmohan, Natamandira, and Bhogamandapa.

Sun Temple, Konark (13th Century AD)

It was built by King Narsimhadeva-I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The Deula and Jagmohana are designed in the shape of the chariot of Suryadev. The Ratha has 12 large wheels on both sides (representing 12 months of the year) and 7 horses to pull it forward. It is made up of Chlorite, Laterite, and khondalite stones. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which attracts thousands of tourists every year.

Khichakeshwari Temple (7th – 8th Century AD)

It is situated in Mayurbhanj, Odisha. The presiding deity is goddess Chamunda and MaaDurga killing Mahisasur. It is made up of Chlorite, which is easy to carve, shape, and work with.


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Image Credits: Google Images

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