There are only five Chausath Yogini (64 Yogini) temples in India which are located in Khajuraho, Hirapur (Bhubaneswar), Ranipur (Jharial), Morena, and Bhedaghat. The very first 64 Yogini or Chausath Yogini temple that I had ever visited was in Khajuraho. That one was unique since that is the only square Chausath Yogini temple also this one is incomplete ruins with none of the 64 Yoginis deities present.
The next Chausath Yogini that I managed to visit was during a trip to Bhubaneswar a few years back. It took me another visit to shoot all the Yoginis individually
Location of Hirapur Chausath Yogini Temple
Though this one is in Bhubaneswar geographically it’s a bit on the outskirts. Locally the temple is popularly known as Mahamaya Temple. I would suggest that you visit this temple during the daytime and avoid late afternoon trips considering its remote location.
The best way to reach this temple will be either by App Taxi, Auto, or your vehicle. If you are traveling by an App Cab or Auto then I would recommend you to book the vehicle for a return trip inclusive of a waiting time. It will be difficult for you to get a return transport otherwise.
About Hirapur Chausath Yogini Temple
This temple is set to be built somewhere between the 8th – 9th Centuries AD. However, there is no concrete conclusion by historians as to which dynasty was responsible for the construction of this temple. Approximately the Bhanja Rulers were in control of these areas during roughly this period.
This temple is under ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) but this is a functioning temple. As you enter the temple compound you will see a small functioning temple to your left and devotees and priests performing puja. The main temple is up ahead.
This temple is circular (hypaethral) with no roof. The reason why Chausath Yogini temples are without a roof is mostly attributed to the nature of Yoginis who set have the power of flight thus keeping the roof open to please them.
On the outer circle, you will find nine Katyayanis who are considered as avatars of Durga who slew Mahisasura.
The temple has a small entrance which you have to literarily bend down to enter. As you are about to enter you will find two Dvarapalas on each side. These are considered warrior gatekeepers.
Once you get past the main doorway you will find two sculpture of men who look like warriors.
After this, you enter the main temple which is circular and you will find sixty Yoginis one after the other clockwise from your left.
At the center of the temple is the Chandi Mandap (Yogini Mandap) with is a pillared rectangular structure with an open roof. Each of the four pillars has one Yogini and one Bhairva sculpture. It is to be noted here that one Yogini is missing and that portion is blank.
Concept of 64 Yoginis
Brahmani, Maheshwari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Aindri, Chamunda, Mohalaxmi & Varahi are considered Asta Matrakas which means eight mothers. From each of these eight Matrakas, we get eight individual Yoginis which makes them sixty-four in total.
Yogini cult is very must associated with Tantric practices. According to the Puranas, the yoginis manifest the combined power of the goddess Durga and often represent various forms of power. This is the very reason why you will see the Yoginis having different facial forms ranging from boar, horse, elephant, etc. The Yoginis can also be seen manifesting the powers of warriors having swords, bow & arrow, daggers, etc.
64 Yoginis at Hirapur Temple
Starting clockwise from the left as you enter you will find the following Yoginis.
Yogini 1 – Maya / Bahurupa / Chandika
This Yogini is known by three names Maya, Bahurupa, Chandika. This is the first Yogini that you will see as you enter the main temple. We will be moving clockwise thus the very first one to your left.
You will be able to see that the Yogini is standing over a corpse, the face is not clear but you will be able to make out the four hands that once were part of the original deity.
Yogini 2 – Tara
Similar to the first one this Yogini can be seen mounted on top of a dead body. The most notable feature is the braid of hair which can be seen on the left side of the face.
Yogini 3 – Narmada
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of an elephant. Similar to Tara this Yogini also has her hair but on the opposite side of the face. If you zoom the image then you will be able to see the skull necklace around her neck. These are very tiny head almost as if it’s made of babies’ skull. She can be seen having a skull head with her left hand as if drinking from it. If you look closely then you will be able to see that this Yogini is mounted on her left leg with her right feet (portion still visible) on top of her left feet as if balancing on one leg.
Yogini 4 – Yamuna
This yogini is seen balancing herself on top of a tortoise with one leg over its head and the other over its tail end. This Yogini has four hands and the most notable unique feature is her hair braids which are rising in curls around her head.
Yogini 5 – Shanti / Kanti / Laxmi / Manada
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a lotus flower with a snake (Cobra) amulet on the left arm. There seems to be another snake-like feature atop her head on the right side which is not so clear.
Yogini 6 – Vriddhi / Kriya / Varuni
The most interesting thing to note about this Yogini is her jewelry especially the ones on her hair. This Yogini is seen as if floating on top of waves.
Yogini 7 – Ajita / Gauri / Ksemankari
This Yogini is seen mounted atop an alligator. She is having four hands.
Yogini 8 – Indrani / Aindri
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of an elephant.
Yogini 9 – Varahi
As the name suggests this Yogini is seen mounted on top of a boar which is also known as “Varaha”. Yogini is having four hands with a skull on one of her left hands.
Yogini 10 – Ranavira / Padmavati
This Yogini can be seen mounted on a serpent with two hands up in the air. She is also seen wearing a necklace around her neck which is made of a skull. She can also be seen holding a large sword (Kharga) with her right hand, however only the handle of the sword is visible while the rest has broken away.
Yogini 11 – Murati / Ostragreeba
This Yogini had four arms and is seen mounted on top of a camel. This is the first of the Yogini which has an animal face and this one is having a face of a monkey.
Yogini 12 – Vaishnavi
This Yogini is seen on top of a Brahminy Kite (Garuda) having a huge hair braid.
Yogini 13 – Virupa / Kalaratri / Panchavarahi
This Yogini also is mounted on top of a Varaha (Boar).
Yogini 14 – Vadyaroopa
As the name suggests Vadya means musical instrument and that is what this Yogini is seen mounted on. She can be seen mounted on top of a Dholak/Mridangam.
Yogini 15 – Charchika
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a male figure, the male figure is seen lying on the ground on his knees holding a lotus plant.
Yogini 16 – Marjari / Betali
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a fish. She has four arms.
Yogini 17 – Chinnamastaka
As the name suggests it means someone with a severed head. This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a head. She is having four arms and in one of her left hands, she is seen holding a bow (not clear as it’s damaged).
Yogini 18 – Vrisabhanana / Bindhya Basini
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a structure similar to that of a house or a cave somewhat similar to the ones you see across this region. Notable is her unique braided hair and her Buffalo face.
Yogini 19 – Jalakamini
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a Toad. Note her unique hairstyle especially towards the right.
Yogini 20 – Ghatavara
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a lion while holding an elephant over her head.
Yogini 21 – Vikarali / Kakarali
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a dog, she is seen mounted on the left leg while the other right leg is lifted over her left thigh and her hand holding onto her right leg.
Yogini 22 – Saraswati
This is Yogini Saraswati and not to be confused with the goddess Saraswati. She is seen mounted on top of a serpent, having four arms with a musical instrument slung over her shoulder towards her front. The most notable feature is the large mustache which she is seen curling with one of her left hands.
Yogini 23 – Birupa
She is seen mounted on top of waves.
Yogini 24 – Kauveri
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a large fully bloomed lotus flower. Note her unique hair braids.
Yogini 25 – Bhalluka
This is a Boar-faced Yogini who is seen holding a Damru (musical instrument) with her right hand. She is seen mounted on top of the Lotus Creeper plant.
Yogini 26 – Narasimhi / Simhamukhi
As the name suggests this Yogini has a face of a Lion and is seen as if mounted on top of a forest with plants and flowers. Note her unique hair braids which surround her face in a circular pattern.
Yogini 27 – Biraja
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of Lotus bud, note her hairstyle especially towards the right side.
Yogini 28 – Vikatanana
This Yogini is having a very unique facial structure.
Yogini 29 – Mahalaxmi
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a huge Lotus flower. On her left hand, she is seen carrying a shield and on her right hand, she is seen carrying a thunderbolt.
Yogini 30 – Kaumari
This Yogini is very difficult to spot as this one is right beside Mahamaya which is the central deity at this temple. Devotees usually cover the idol of Mahamaya with colorful cloths and often the Yogini ones on the left and the right also get covered up. I somehow managed to click a side view.
This Yogini can be seen mounted on top of a peacock. Note her hairstyle which braids on the right.
Yogini 31 Mahamaya
This is the central deity of this temple and is positioned right at the middle right opposite the main entrance. The idol is covered so much with colorful clothes that only her eyes are visible.
You can only read about its features in books and other referential documents. This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a Lotus and having ten hands.
Yogini 32 – Usa / Rati
Similar to the 30th Yogini this one is also difficult to spot as it’s mostly covered up. This Yogini is seen mounted on top of an archer.
Yogini 33 – Karkari
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a crab.
Yogini 34 – Sarpasha / Chittala
As the name suggests this Yogini has a face that of a snake and is having four arms.
Yogini 35 – Yosha
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a platform similar to a table or a bed.
Yogini 36 – Aghora / Vaivasvati
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a Ram Goat. Her unique feature is her big bulging eyes.
Yogini 37 – Bhadrakali / Rudrakali
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a crow handing a sword (portion) in her left hand.
Yogini 38 – Matangi / Shitala / Vainayaki / Ganeshani / Gajanana
This Yogini has a face of an elephant and is also seen mounted on top of an elephant. This is almost the feminine version of Ganesha.
Yogini 39 – Bindhyabalini
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a rat. Though missing she is seen launching an arrow with her right hand holding the bow and left hand pulling the bow with an arrow.
Yogini 40 – Abhaya / Veera / Kumari
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a scorpion. She has four arms.
Yogini 41 – Maheswari
This Yogini is mounted on top of a bull. She has four arms.
Yogini 42 – Kamakshi / Ambika
This Yogini is seen balancing herself on top of two wheels which are on top of a mongoose. She has four arms. On one of her left arms she has a cup-like structure most probably the head of a skull and on the Damru (musical instrument).
Yogini 43 – Kamayani
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a Cock.
Yogini 44 – Ghatabari
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a Lion.
Yogini 45 – Stutee
This Yogini is having four arms and is seen balancing on some sort of pan or plate. On the left, you can also see a portion of a vase.
Yogini 46 – Kali
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a man which can be assumed as Shiva having a third eye. The Yogini is also holding a trident with her right hand.
Yogini 47 – Uma
This Yogini is seen mounted on multiple small lotus flowers. With a cobra snake on her left hand.
Yogini 48 – Narayani
This Yogini is seen holding a wine jar with her left hand and a sword with the right hand. There is a small pot or jar-like structure just below the wine jar.
Yogini 49 – Samudra
This yogini is seen mounted on top of a conch shell. Note her hair braids to the left of her head.
Yogini 50 – Brahmani
This Yogini is very interesting as she is the only one with three faces, she also has four arms.
Yogini 51 – Jwalamukhi
This Yogini has her ears very high up almost on the front side of her forehead.
Yogini 52 – Agneyi
As the name suggests it’s everything to do with fire. You can see flames of fire carved behind the Yogini. She is also seen holding a sword over her head parallel to the ground.
Yogini 53 – Aditi
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a parrot.
Yogini 54 – Chandrakanti
This Yogini is seen standing on top of a platform almost like that of a bed with four legs.
Yogini 55 – Vayubega
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of a yak.
Yogini 56 – Chamunda
This is another unique Yogini with unlike other Yoginis do not have a well-built body instead it’s almost like a skeleton (skin and bones). She is having four arms out of which each left and right hand hold a lion on top of her head while the rest of the two arms hold a dagger with her right hand and a severed head with her left hand.
Yogini 57 – Murati
This Yogini is seen standing on top of a deer.
Yogini 58 – Ganga
This Yogini is seen mounted on top of Makara which is a mythological sea creature. She has four arms.
Yogini 59 – Dhumavati / Tarini
This Yogini is seen mounted on a duck.
Yogini 60 – Gandhari
This Yogini is seen mounted on a horse.
This completes all the Yoginis that are places in circular pattern around the temple. The next four Yoginis are mounted on the pillars of Chandi Mandap.
Yogini 61 – Sarva Mangala (Missing)
This one is missing and this portion
Yogini 62 – Ajita
This Yogini is seen mounted on a Deer. She has four arms.
Yogini 63 – Surya Putri
This Yogini is seen mounted on a horse. She has four arms. One of the left arm holding a bow and one of the right had taken out a bow from its quiver.
Yogini 64 – Vayu Veena
This is the last of the Yogini and is seen mounted on a blackbuck. The background has patterns as if mimicking the movement of air.
Bhairavs on Chandi Mandap
Along with the three Yoginis (one missing) on the pillars of Chandi Mandap, you will find four panels of Bhairavs also. One of them is Ekpada Bhairav who is seen standing on one leg while the rest three are ten armed Bhairavs in a seated position.
There is a water body right next to the temple which has a temple-like structure at the center. This tank is part of the temple and is known as Mahamaya Puskarini which is named after the main deity of the temple (Mahamaya).
This temple was discovered as recently as 1953 by Kedarnath Mahapatra
The temple measures 27.4 meters in circumference and has a height of just 2.4 meters
The temple is made from sandstone
The stone panels of Yoginis are made of black and grey chlorite stone
Out of the 64 Yoginis, 1 is missing
60 Yoginis are places around the inner wall circularly while 4 (1 missing) on the Chandi Mandap
9 Katyayani on the outer wall made of sandstone
2 Dvarapalas at the main entrance made of sandstone
4 on Bhairavs on Chandi Mandap pillars