This blog post is perhaps the most sentimental for me. It’s very personal and one day I will reveal the reason why but not today. This blog post happens to be one of my longest projects as it took nearly 4 years for me to finish it up.
Ekamra Kshetra is one of the most underrated and undersold tourist destinations of Odisha. This place could have been easy being compared with the pagodas of Bagan in Myanmar. Bhubaneswar is a temple city much more than what it projects.
I realized that most of the local tour organizers and guide books do not cover all the temples instead only feature the popular ones. This is when I thought of creating a single blog post covering all the temples and other important places located at Ekamra Kshetra.
I am sure not all tourists want to visit all the temples one by one but I felt it was important to list them down in a single blog post no matter how long it takes for me to complete.
The information about the temples is mostly taken from the information tablets placed outside each of the temples. I have not gone into extensive details about each temple since that would have been way too big for a single blog post. I have deliberately kept the information for the popular temples also to a minimum since you have enough information about them already online. The main objective of this blog is for the reader to take a walking tour of this part of Bhubaneswar city.
Please keep in mind that it will be a long walk thus prepare accordingly. Ideally, this can be done in a day during the winter season but rest of the months I would suggest you split it up into sections.
I will start the blog from the main temple that is Lingaraj Temple which is the largest temple complex out here and all the rest of the temples are scattered around this main temple.
History of Ekamra Kshetra
More than documented history it’s the mythology that people believe the most. Let’s take the mythological way to explain the history and significance of this place first.
So Shiva and Parvati had initially settled in Kashi (Varanasi) after their marriage. Slowly over time, Kashi became very populated and Shiva decided to go somewhere else to meditate peacefully.
Shiva decided not to tell Parvati about where he was meditating and decided to meditate in a jungle under a large mango tree.
This place is what is now referred to as Ekamra Kshetra or sometimes even referred to as Gupta Kashi or hidden Kashi.
Parvati came searching for him and during this saw hundreds of cows coming under a mango tree and milking on their own. She at once understood that Shiva was there.
Now historically this place once had over 700 temples. This region had hundreds of mango trees and as per Ekamra Purana, this place covered an area from Khandagiri hills in the west to Kundalesvara temple in the east, Balhadevi Temple on the north, and Bahirangesvara temple on the south.
Lingaraj Temple was at its center and the largest of all the temples in this region.
Locations of all the important places at Ekamra Kshetra on Map
For reference I have color coded different types of tourist attractions.
Pink Stars = Temples
Green Stars = Dharmashala & Matha
Orange Stars = Other Important Places
Blue Star = Tanks & Lake
This is perhaps the most famous temple in the Ekamra Kshetra. Built around the 6th century AD by the Somavamsi dynasty rulers initially and then by Ganga dynasty kings. This is the largest temple complex in this region. The temple consists of the image of Vishnu which is worshiped here in this temple.
Originally the temple is believed to be under a mango tree thus the name Ekamra. Architecture wise this temple is built in Deula style consisting of Vimana, Jaganmohana, Natamandira, and Bhoga Mandapa. Apart from the main temple, there are nearly fifty smaller shrines all around the temple compound.
This is a Vaishnavite temple located right next to Lingaraj Temple. This temple is set to have been built around 1238 to 12647 AD by Narasingh Dev I. This temple is dedicated to Saraswati.
The building style is that of Panchayatana with a central main temple consisting of sanctum sanctorum and Jaganmohana with four smaller shrines on each side around the temple compound.
This temple is located next to Chitrakarini Temple. This temple is set to be built around the 12th – 14th century AD during the Ganga rule of this region. The architectural style is that of Pancharatha with Vimana and Jaganmohana. This is a Lakshmi temple.
Papanasini Tank is located within this temple compound.
This temple is located next to Maitreswara Temple. No plaques were found with the information on this particular temple. It was interesting to see that the local children use the premises to play cricket. There were two structures within this temple premises.
This temple is located at the back of Lingaraj Temple next to BMC hospital. This is a Shiva temple built around the 13th century AD. The architectural style is that of Saptaratha with Vimana, Jaganmohana, and Ganthihala.
Built around the 13th century AD this temple was built during the dominance of Ganga rulers. This temple is supposed to have been built by Yama.
All wishes will come true of a devotee if Yama Dwitiya is performed during the second day of the brighter half of Kartik month.
This temple is located just opposite Yameswara Temple. The temple faces the east direction and consists of a Deula and Jaganmohana which is consistent with the Saptaratha style of construction.
This is an 8th century AD temple that has architectural features of a Khakara style of temples. The roof has a semi-cylindrical structure with three spires. This temple has a Deula and a Jaganmohana.
This temple is dedicated to Chamunda.
This temple is located in the same compound as Vital Temple. This temple is also set to have been built around the 8th century AD and is dedicated to Shiva. This temple consists of a Rekha Deula and Jaganmohana with a flat roof.
This is a functioning temple and for some strange reason, it has been whitewashed over its original stone walls. Legend has it that once Shiva had killed a calf and as a penance for this took bath in the pond located right next to the temple.
Built around the 13th century AD this is a Shiva temple and there are numerous smaller shrines around this temple.
This temple was built around the 7th century AD. This temple is located on the northern side of Bindusagar Lake. The temple has been built in Triratha style with Vimana and Jaganmohana. This is a Chamunda temple.
Asta Shambhu Temple
There are 8 small Shiva temples right next to the Uttareswara Temple which is set to have been built around 16th century AD. All these have been built in Pancharatha style with height ranging from 14 feet to 20 feet.
Parvati once expressed her desire for Ratrikida with Shiva while they were at Ekamra Kshetra and Shiva agreeing to this transformed himself into eight forms which are referred to as Asta Shambhu.
This is one of the smallest temples that is preset here at Ekamra Kshetra and consists of a small single room only. This temple is set to have been built around the 9th century AD.
This temple has been recently renovated and one of the most striking features is the huge ancient water tank within the temple compound which has cut but digging through a rock bed. The main temple is set to worship Shiva while there is another smaller shrine located right next to the main temple.
This temple gets its name from a Lakulisa teacher knows as Parasvara. Dated around the 7th century AD this temple is said to be one of the oldest surviving temples in this locality in its original architectural form. The temple plan is based on Triratha and has lavish stone works on the outer walls.
The temple structure consists of a Vimana and Jaganmohana. The detailed work consists of Nataraja, Saptamatrika, Surya, Durga along with musicians and other deities.
Shiva can be seen on three sides, front-facing which is above Jaganmohana depicting Ravana raising from Mount Kailash. The second shows Annapurna offering alms to Shiva. The third instance shows the marriage of Shiva.
Daitesvara (Pabakesvara) Temple
This temple is almost hidden with trees and is located between two houses. You can hardly even see this temple as you walk on the street. The signboard outside this temple dates it between the 10 – 11 century AD.
Kedar Gouri Temple
Built-in a classical Kalingan architecture style this temple is a function religious site thus photography is prohibited in the interior of the complex.
The Lingam located inside the temple complex is named Dakshina Murti installed in this place by Giriraj Himalaya.
Architecture point of view this temple has been built in Panchayatana style having both Vimana and Jaganmohana which is in a pyramidic shape. This temple complex also has another smaller Gouri temple built around the 10th century AD in Khakra style.
The temple complex also consists of a tank that is believed to have medicinal properties.
Visually this is the most stunning in terms of architectural beauty. What is lacks in size is overcome by the sheer detailed stonework that you see in this temple. This temple could easily be considered one of the finest in terms of iconography. This temple was built around the 10th century AD.
The most iconic structure in this temple compound is the Mangalatorana (arched entry gate). This temple is facing west and consists of Rekha Deul (Pancharatha style) and Pidha Jaganmohana.
Located in the same compound and right next to the north of Mukteswara Temple. Visually this temple is a stark contrast to its beautiful neighbor (Mukteshwara Temple). This temple faces the east and its construction is dated around the 15th century AD thus making it its younger neighbor.
Dated around the 13th century AD this temple is built with Laterite stone in Pancharatha plan having a Vimana and Jaganmohana. The Shiva Lingam inside the temple is believed by the locals to have come out of the earth from below under earth (Patalaphuta) surrounded by Cobras (Champanagas) thus the name Champakeswara.
Built around the 7th century AD by the Sailodbhava Kings in Triratha style consisting of a single Vimana. This temple architecture consists of scenes from Ramayana on the outer walls. Another noteworthy feature is the Naga holding Purna Ghanta (full jar).
This 11th century AD temple was built by Somvanshi kings ruling this region of Kalinga. The word Koti means a crore (one hundred thousand) and Tirtha means pilgrimage thus the name suggests that after a dip in the sacred tank if the Linga is worshiped in this temple, then that will be equivalent to a pilgrimage of crore visits.
The construction of this temple is in Pidha (Pyramidical) style having turrets and spires.
During the Chaitra month, the festivities of Damanka Chaturdashi are commemorated by transporting a representation of Lingaraj (Chandrasekhara) which is taken inside the temple and worshiped.
Built around the 9th – 10th century AD this is a Shiva temple. The original temple had been damaged and was recently renovated. The design pattern of this temple is in Pancharatha style with Vimana and an attached porch. One of the most notable features of this temple is Shiva and Parvati around the doorjamb.
This temple is located right behind Subarnajaleswara Temple and architecture wise is a vast contrast to its neighbor. The outer walls are elaborately decorated in patterns and figures.
This is a very small temple located on the banks of Bindusagar Lake. The temple is roughly dated around the 10th – 11th century AD This is a Shiva temple.
Patal means underground and the temple is almost buried below the road.
The locals refer to this temple as Jagati Temple. This temple is located right in the middle of Bindusagar Lake and when there is water in the lake then one needs to use a boat to reach this temple. However during the peak summer season when the water dries up it can be reached on foot.
Anata Basudeva Temple
This is a functioning temple and photography is prohibited inside. This is also one of the most important temples in this region of Eekamra Kshetra. This temple is dedicated to Vishnu and is set to have been built around the 13th century AD This temple has a huge kitchen from where Prasada are distributed.
This temple is located on the southern bank of Bindusagar Lake and is dedicated to Chamunda. Bindusagar Lake has a Chamunda temple on all of its four sides and this is one of them.
The construction of this temple dates back to the 9th century AD.
Located near Mohini Temple at the south-west corner of Bindusagar Lake
Bhabani Shankara Temple
This temple is located very near to Lingaraj Temple located southern side of Bindusagar Lake. Bhabani is another name of Parvati. According to legends Parvati was staying at Ekamra Kshetra and was having a disguise of a cowherd. During this time Kriti and Basa who were demons found, Parvati killed both of them and crushed them deep underground. This made Parvati very exhausted thus she took a rest at the feet of Shiva. This temple was built on that very spot where the daemons were buried.
This temple dates back to the 14th century AD built-in Tiratha format.
This temple was built around the 14th century AD and is located right opposite Bhabani Shankara Temple.
Suka Sari Temple
People often confuse this temple as a single entity “Sukasari” which is incorrect. In reality, the structure to the south is the Suka temple and to the north is the Sari temple.
Suka temple is set to have been built around the 13th century AD during the Ganga rule of this region. The temple has been built in Sapratha style.
While Sari temple is now in news due to the recent discovery of another temple structure of which only the foundation was found while the local municipal government was digging up the surroundings for the creation of a road. As of now, construction work has been halted and ASI (Archeological Survey of India) is carrying out excavation work.
Please note that I had taken prior permission from ASI officials before clicking photos of the excavated sections.
Similar to the Suka temple Sari temple was also built around the 13th century AD during the Ganga rule. Built-in Panchayatana style having one central structure and is surrounded by four structures around the main structure. The newly excavated section could be part of those additional structures.
Ganga Yamuna Temple
After Parvati killed the two daemons and buried them underground at Bhabani Shankara Temple she was tired and rested at the feet of Shiva and was very thirsty. On seeing this Shiva took his trident and struck on the earth and water sprang up. To bless this water goddess Ganga and Yamuna were summoned.
The Ganga rulers built this temple out here to commemorate this incident around the 13th to 14th century AD. The temple compound still has a water tank believed to be that same blessed water.
This temple is located right opposite the Ganga Yamuna temple. Built around the 13th century AD this is a Shiva temple.
Similar to Ekamreswara Temple this temple was also buried under centuries of shifting topsoil and only recently has been somewhat restored while still, some renovation works are ongoing.
This temple is set to have been built around the 13th century AD.
Dakara Bibhishaneswara Temple
Built around the 13th century AD this temple is set to have been built by Bibhisana who was the brother of Ravana. This is a functioning temple and has a deity which is known as the messenger to Lingaraja.
This temple was built around the 13th century AD and since it is located directly east of Lingaraj temple thus is referred to as Purbeswara temple. The temple has recently been renovated but sadly significant of the top portion is missing. The temple is set to have been built during the Ganga dynasty rule.
This temple is tricky to locate as it has to be approached from the main road. Locals refer to this temple with a different name thus it’s tricky to locate.
This is a Shiva temple set to have been built around the 13th century AD by Ganga rulers.
This temple is located near the front entrance of Lingaraja Temple. Almost buried this temple has been recently restored by removing earth from around its main structure thus giving us a detailed view of the portion which once was below the ground.
This is a Shiva temple set to have been built around the 11th century AD.
Minor Laterite Temples
There are around 4 such small temples with twenty meters of each other. These are not at all maintained and some of them are right in the middle of the road while one is tucked behind an electrical transformer.
Kharakhia Vaidyanatha Temple
This is just an open space with Shiva Linga. It derives its name from the open-top as sun rays fall directly on the Linga.
Shyamesvar & Nilakanthesvara Temple
Located right next to Kharakhia Vaidyanatha Temple.
Apart from temples, Ekamra Kshetra has a few other important Mathas and Dharmshalas. These form an integral part of the once temple town.
This dharmshala was built by Rai Bahadur Sedmull Dalmia in 1920 for pilgrims to stay here during their visit to this place.
This is another dharmshala located right next to Dalmiya dharmshala. Built-in 1928 by Raihazarimull Doodwawalla Bahadur.
This matha is located to the south of Lingaraj temple near the Group of Laterite Temples.
This matha is located next to Yameswara Temple. It is said that this matha was originally constructed by Yajati Kesari who has constructed the Lingaraj temple.
This matha is located next to Uttareswara Temple and is in a very dilapidated state.
A group of Mathas was also present in front of the Suka Sari temple but they have been removed for the planned expansion of the road around Lingaraj temple.
Apart from these, there are a few more interesting places to see at Ekamra Kshetra.
So Lord Curzon the Governor-General of India wanted to visit the Lingaraj temple but as per tradition, only Hindus are allowed inside thus this platform was specially erected for Lord Curzon to see the temples from outside.
This structure is located on the northern side of the Lingaraj temple. You can get a truly panoramic view of this temple from atop the Curzon Mandap.
This plot of land is located on the southern side of the Lingaraj temple. Haat means open market and some date this market to 7th to 8th century AD and a market which has a close association with the Lingaraj temple itself.
On the western side of Bindusagar Lake is a garden full of medicinal plants which have been created by the forest department for visitors. It’s a nice place to unwind and watch the calm waters of Bindusagar Lake.
This is the ghaat at Bindusagar Lake dating back to the 15th – 16th century AD.
There are two tanks are out here which are considered holy and forms an important part of this region’s history.
Devi Padahara Tank
This is the main tank right in front of Lingaraj Temple. As per mythology, Parvati slew two demons here.
As the name suggests the water from this tank is supposed to cleanse sin when someone takes a dip in it. According to legends, a sage named Sajoti performed severe penance by fasting without food and water for many days. Shiva happy with him asked for a wish and Sajoti asked for a tank of water that would cleanse the sin of humans.
This tank is located within the Maitreswara Temple compound.
This is the largest water body in Bhubaneswar and forms an important part of Ekamra Kshetra. The rituals associated with Lingaraj temples have a close association with the waters of the lake. At the center of the lake, there is a Brahma temple (locally known as Jagati temple).
This artificial waterbody is set to have been constructed between the 7th and 8th centuries AD.
Being a foodie, I had to include this in this blog post. Kora Khai is one of the prasad given to the devotees out here and you can also buy them from shops located around this place. This is one of the main prasad at Lingaraj temple thus you must try this.
This is prepared by dipping Khai (puffed rice) in sugar and jaggery solution. Cinnamon and coconut pieces are added to the mix for taste and flavor. When it dries up then it turns hard and crunchy.
Not all temples allow photography thus see the sign clearly before taking photographs inside any temple.
Dress appropriately as these are temples and holy places.
Carry enough water as it’s a long walk to cover all if not most of the temples.
Try to break the tour into segments spread over two days which will be comfortable.
Temple priests might approach you to perform puja, please note that they will for sure ask for money after this if you agree. The same applies to blessings also.
For some temples, you need to remove your footwear so please keep this in mind.
Dress comfortably as it’s a long walk.
Carry umbrellas or sun hats to protect yourself from the sun.