As per conversation in Ekamra Purana (Chapters 11-14), in Satya-yuga, Pitamah Brahma expressed his desire to build a temple for Maheshwara. Maheshwara had already allowed the liberty to Chandra (Sashanka) and had chosen the location. However, Maheshwara allowed Vivudheshwara Brahma to build a temple close-by to be called Brahmeshwara. Similar cross-references to Svarnadri Mahodaya, Ekamra Chandrika, and Kapila Samhita point to two primary points of interpretation: Maheshwara will reside as Tribhubaneshwara in Ekamra in a temple built by Sashanka in Kali yuga and Brahmeshwara can considered as pre-cursor and complimenting Tribhubaneshwara, also called Krittivasa at Ekamra.
How do I reach there?
Sixty (60) feet tall Brahmeshwara Temple is located in Bhubaneshwar (LONGITUDE: 850 51′ 06″ E, LATITUDE: 200 14′ 23″ N), capital city of Odisha, one of the states on the East-Central zone of India. Bhubaneshwar was said to have in excess of 5000 temples at one point of time but over the ages, the number has drastically come down. Almost all the temples still remain as free standing structures created from unique Kalinga Deula architecture devoid of any Islamic, Persian, European influence. The continuous stable reign of Hindu dynasties of Bhaumakaras, Somavamsis, and Gangas led to undeterred research and development of beautiful and scientific architecture by local Shilpakaras. The Shilpakaras also documented the art and architecture in canonical treatises like Silpapothi, Silpasastra, Vastusastra
Upanisad, Silparatnakara, Silpasarini, Silpa Prakash, Padma Kesara, Deula Mapagunagara, Bhuban Prabesh, Soudhikagama, and many others which still leave modern day architects in awe.
The closest airport of Biju Patnaik International Airport, Bhubaneshwar. The following map shows the directions. The railway station is also very close.
The entry to the temple is from north gate.
The summary of first views of the complex: Since I will be using a few terms to touch upon the overall architecture, I will be using temple and Deula interchangeably. Please do bear with me
- A rekha deula (rekha means line) with four temples on the four corners of the complex, the temple is built on east-west axis and looks circular with its pancha ratha design. (pancha means five and ratha means the vertical offset projection over which the deula superstructure is built. This superstructure is called Shikhara in North India and Vimana in Kalinga and South India. I will stay with Vimana. Vimana/ deula superstructure is built over the gabhagriha or sanctum sanctorum)
- It is a living temple where Shiva presides as linga inside circular yonipitha.
Let me try and elaborate both these points in layman terms.
For point 1 above:
The Kalinga architecture has three types of temples. Not one, not two, but three distinct types of temple architecture:
Khakhara Deula: Pumpkin is called Kakharu in Odia-the local language in Odisha/ Kalinga. If the mastaka (head) of the temple resembles the edge of pumpkin, it is called Khakhara deula. I am unaware of the reasons till now but almost all the Shakti temples in Odisha have Khakhara deula architecture. I have discussed one such temple called Vaital Temple @ this link: http://nuagapa.com/2016/12/25/vaital-temple-bhubaneswar-odisha-india/
Pidha Deula: In rural Odisha, thatched Houses were common and the thatched slanting roof made of properly cut & trimmed straw or wooden piles is called a Pidha. A temple designed in this form is called a Pidha deula. Let me see if I can work on a Pidha Deula example soon and publish.
Rekha Deula: Most of the Vishnu and Shiva temples in Kalinga are of Rekha order. There are multiple types of Rekha Deula (Ekaratha deula, Triratha deula, Pancharatha deula, Saptaratha deula, Nabaratha deula) and the type is determined by the concepts of vaastu and sub-soil structure primarily but other components helping the decision are height, complexity of design, durability, etc. I have no intention of trivialising this entire detailed science with just a few points. So, I will just skim over the primary concepts. And since our temple here is a Pancha Ratha Deula, I will use this as the case in point. Now, why is Pancha Ratha so called? Let’s see the following picture:
Points to understand here:
Five primary pillars on each line of the diamond (I have demarcated this with different colours for easy understanding). So, Eka-ratha (eka=1) is just a cuboid, Tri-ratha (tri=3) has three pillars, Sapta-ratha (sapta=7) has seven pillars, Naba-ratha (naba=9) has nine pillars along the diamond. The more the feasibility of pillars, more circular and higher the structure can be.
Each of those pillars is called a Paga and has a name.
- The pillars at the vertices of the diamond are called Roha Paga (Roha= main base or mount).
- The ones next to them are called Anu-roha
Paga (Anu=next to or behind or after)
- The ones in the middle are called Kanika Paga (Kanika= corner or ear)
The unshaded-portion in the centre is the sanctum sanctorum.
- The main temple or the Vimana raises up from the foundation as is shown below
Now, without going very deep into the detailed architecture, I take you to the outer temple design. Hope the labels are self-explanatory. I couldn’t take a close-up of the Mastaka (head) of Brahmeshwara temple to show it clearly. But, in my next article, I will attempt the magnificent Lingaraja Temple. I will try and take the concept of Mastaka in more detail.
I may have loaded you with a lot of technical details already. So, I break here before I get into my detailed description and interpretation of various temple components. Lots of images coming up in the next part of the blog. So, stay tuned and stay blessed.