The Abode of Lord Lingaraj

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With Nabakalabara Ratha Yatra celebrations successfully coming to an end, it’s now time to adorn, Lord of the Universe, Lord Shiva with water and trifoliate bel leaves and have your wishes granted. On the new moon day of Asadha, which was on 31st July this year, thousands of devotees carry water from various parts of Odisha to 11 hundred year old Lingaraj temple.

Lingaraj temple is the core of the temples in the ‘temple city’ of Bhubaneswar, the capital of the state of Odisha which hosts almost a thousand small and medium shrines.  Said to have been constructed earlier than the Lord Jagannath temple in Puri, the temple is the seat of the presiding deity Harihara (a combined form of Lord Vishnu and Shiva) is commonly referred as Tribhubaneswar , from which the capital city Bhubaneswar draws its name.  The main temple is surrounded by a boundary wall and the complex houses 150 small shrines inside the courtyard.

The body of the main temple bears sculptures of men, beast and women.  The main temple consists of four components namely Vimana(structure containing the sanctum sanctorum),Jagamohan  (assembly hall), Natamandir( festive hall) and Bhoga Mandap(hall of offerings).  Unlike Shiva shrines Lingaraj temple bears much resemblance in the architectural design and temple rituals with the Jagannath temple. This is because the rulers of Ganga dynasty were worshippers of Lord Vishnu and are said to have influenced the practices and festivals of the temple at a later time.

Hence the presiding deity Harihara here is worshipped both as Shiva and Vishnu, portraying a harmony between the followers of both the sects. Shivaratri is the main festival of the Lord when thousands of fasting devotees throng to the shrine to offer puja to the Lord and spend the night till the Mahadipa (a huge lamp with wick and oil) is lit on the spire of the temple.

In the holy month of Shravan, the devout Bolbom pilgrims carry holy waters from rivers to pour it on the Lingam at the Lingaraj temple, with the belief that Lord Shiva will take away their sufferings and ward off any danger. During Chandan Yatra (sandalwood festival continues for consecutive 22 days) the deities and servitors of the temple smear themselves with sandalwood paste and related rituals are solemnized at Bindusagar tank adjacent to the main temple.  Legend has it that an underground river emanating from Lord Lingaraj temple, keeps the Bindusagar tank filled up round the year. Believers say that the water of the tank is scared and heals a person both physically and spiritually.

Another aspect of Lingaraj temple is the car festival (Rath Yatra) and is observed on Ashokashtami. The idols of Lord Lingaraj and his sister Rukmani are carried to the Rameswar temple nearby on a splendidly decorated chariot pulled by thousands of devotees.

How to reach:

By Air: Airport is Biju Patnaik International Airport based of Bhubaneswar and well connected
to all the major cities of the country.

By Rail: Very well connected from all parts of the country, Bhubaneswar has the Railway station right in the centre of the town.