The Lingaraj Temple is the most famous and the largest temple in Bhubaneswar, located at a distance of 3.5 kilometers from the Bhubaneswar railway station. It is also a very prominent temple of Odisha. Bhubaneswar is famous for the temples with at least 500 of them currently present, while the older figures are estimated at around 7000 temples. Reflecting into the cool waters of the Bindu Sarovara, The temple tower rises to a height of 180 feet with an area of ten miles radius. The majestic temple structure represents the Kalinga architecture as can be seen in all the temples of Odisha. The worshipable Deity of this temple is Lord Lingaraj – Lord Shiva. The shiva-linga is svayambhu or self-manifested. The north-east corner of the temple hosts the Deity of Parvati Devi known as Bhuvaneshwari Devi, the consort of Tribhuvaneshwar – the master of the three worlds. In fact the name Bhubaneswar is after the name Tribhuvaneshwara. As per tradition, one should visit the Lingaraj temple first before visiting the temple of Lord Jagannatha in Puri.
The History of Lord Lingaraj
The Purushottama-khanda of the Skanda Purana and the Antya-khanda of the Chaitanya Bhagavata describe how Lord Shiva attained Bhubaneswar as a place of residence. While describing the glories of Jagannath Puri, the Sage Jaimini describes the glories of Bhubaneswar as follows:
Long ago Lord Shiva married Sati – the beautiful daughter of Prajapati Daksha. Because Lord Shiva often remained aloof of the opulence and the affairs of the material world, King Daksha would always think of him as a pauper. To counteract this and to please Sati, Lord Shiva built Kashi on the banks of Ganges. The city had many opulent palaces and inhabited by the seekers liberation from the material world. Lord Shiva and Sati remained in Kashi for many years.
During the Dvapara-yuga, there lived a king named Paundraka, who challenged Lord Krishna to fight, but was ultimately killed in the battle. During that battle Lord Krishna also killed Kashiraja, the King of Kashi, who had sided by Paundraka. Lord Krishna specifically threw the head of the head of Kashiraja into Kashi so that his relatives and family members could see the result of his enmity with Krishna. The king of Kashi had a son named Sudakshina. After observing the funeral of his father, he took a vow to kill Krishna. Therefore, he began to worship Lord Shiva. He performed severe penances with vengeance in his heart to please Lord Shiva and get boons from Him. Thus being pleased, Lord Shiva appeared before Sudakshina to offer him boons. Kashiraja asked that he may be given the power to destroy Lord Krishna in battle.
Lord Shiva was pleased with Sudakshina’s worship and agreed to offer him a boon. Because Sudakshina wanted to kill Krishna, he prayed for specific powers to do so. Lord Shiva advised that Sudakshina perform a black ritualistic ceremony and invoke Dakshinagni who would execute any order given to him. He would not, however, kill a qualified brahmana. Getting assurance from Lord Shiva, Sudakshina confidently performed the black ritualistic ceremony. From the fire emerged a fierce demon. Sudakshina ordered him to go to Dwarka with hundreds of Lord Shiva’s ghostly companions and kill Krishna. Lord Shiva also followed the army with his pashupatastra. When Dakshinagni entered into Dwarka, all the residents panicked and took shelter of Lord Krishna.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, is omniscient and all-pervading, so He understood the fiery demon was Lord Shiva’s creation. He invoked and ordered Sudarshana to vanquish the demon. With the effulgence of millions of suns and illuminating the entire universe, Sudarshana chakra single handedly vanquished the demon and killed Sudakshina. The Sudarshana chakra then entered Varanasi. Although this city was opulent, because the King of Kashi and his son were against Lord Krishna, the chakra devastated the entire city by burning down everything. Lord Shiva’s anger knew no bounds and thus released His Pashupata Astra weapon. Lord Shiva’s weapon was no match for the Sudarshan Chakra and thus it retreated back in fear.
The Sudarshana Chakra now started going behind Lord Shiva Himself. Lord Shiva, who couldn’t find a place to hide, fled the battlefield being terrified of the Chakra’s heat which had engulfed the entire world. Understanding that the Sudarshana Chakra was invincible, He took shelter at the lotus feet of Lord Krishna and offered prayers for forgiveness. Lord Krishna was pleased by the prowess of Lord Shiva in the battle and his repentance. Lord Krishna forgave Lord Shiva and recalled the Sudarshana Chakra. Lord Shiva then requested Krishna to provide Him shelter as his residence Kashi was destroyed.
Lord Krishna tells Lord Shiva to live in Bhubaneswar
On the request of Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna offered Ekamravana to Lord Shiva to reside and narrated its glories as follows:
“This place is known as Ekamrakavana. In this idyllic surrounding, you will appear and be worshiped. This place is in every way as captivating as Varanasi. Besides, this place is also spiritually elevated highly, but few only know this truth. Today, I will reveal to you the esoteric significance of Ekamrakavana, which is so dear to Me. On the shores of the ocean, covering a very large area is the place known as Nilachala. This is also known as Purushottama Kshetra, the abode of Lord Jagannatha. It has the most pleasing and peaceful atmosphere. Even at the time of the cosmic annihilation, this place remains intact, unscathed. I reside there eternally, and daily receive opulent offerings of foodstuffs. The place I have designated as your residence lies north of My abode, Jagannatha Puri. Your place is, as I have described before, very beautiful and charming. Here one can very easily attain liberation and bliss. This place will be famous as Bhuvaneswara. O Shiva you shall be protector of My dhama. I will be most pleased, if you stay here always.”
This is how Lord Shiva came to reside in Bhubaneswar and is still being worshiped by the devotees.
The significance of Bindu Sarovara
The Lingaraj Temple lies on the bank of the Bindu Sarovar. This sacred lake was created by Lord Shiva by collecting water from all the sacred rivers. The verse 38 of the chapter 21 of the third canto of Bhagavata Purana describes that the lake is encircled by the sacred river Sarasvati. Sage Kardama is said to have performed austerities on the bank of this lake to gain the causeless mercy of Lord Vishnu. When the Supreme Lord arrived there He was so compassionate that in pleasure He shed tears, which became Bindu Sarovara. this lake is worshiped by the great sages. The water of Bindu Sarovara is described as shivamrita-jala. Shiva means curing. Anyone who drinks the water of Bindu Sarovara is cured of all material diseases. Lord Kapila also spoke Sankhya philosophy to His mother Devahuti on the banks of this transcendental lake.
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visits the Lingaraj Temple
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the incarnation of Lord Krishna in the mood of a devotee once came to Bhubaneswar. Lord Chaitanya knew that Bindu Sarovara was very dear to Lord Shiva and thus took a bath in it, thereby increasing its auspiciousness. The Shivalinga worshiped by the lakeside is svayambhu i.e. self-manifested. Lord Chaitanya had darshan of the Shivalinga and then went on to mingle with the followers of Lord Shiva who were chanting his glories. Small burning ghee lamps were set around the Shivalinga which was being bathed continuously.
Lord Chaitanya was pleased to see the worship and opulent temple of His beloved devotee Lord Bhuvaneswara Shiva. His associates were also very happy in such a devotional atmosphere. Lord Shiva is always immersed in meditation of the Supreme Lord such that he couldn’t stop dancing. Lord Chaitanya also started dancing ecstatically with all the devotees and then later spent the night there. In order to teach everyone that Lord Shiva is very dear to Lord Krishna, Lord Chaitanya danced and clapped His hands singing ‘Shiva Rama Govinda’ in front of the Deity of Lord Shiva demonstrating the instructions of Lord Krishna found in the scriptures.
Festivals celebrated in the Lingaraj Temple
Like the Jagannath Temple, the Lingaraj Temple celebrates grand festivals commemorating the pastimes of Lord Shiva.
Handi Bhanga Jatra
The festival Deity of Lord Lingaraj is taken to the Kapilanath Temple in a pallaki along with Parvati Devi, Durga Devi and Lord Ananta Vasudev to get rid of the effect of Shani planet. On this day, the local devotees prepare a feast with new earthen pots in the Kapilanath Temple premises. After Lord Lingaraj leaves the temple premises, the feast concludes and all the earthen pots are broken. On the way back, Lord Lingaraj visits the Aisanyeshwar Temple.
Lord Lingaraj is made the Padhuan and the festival Deity goes in a decorated vimana to the temple of Srimaiteshwarar (who is treated as the maternal uncle of Lord Lingaraj) along with Parvati Devi and Lord Ananta Vasudev. Here, after the pujas get over, new clothes and sweets are presented to Lord Lingaraj. This festival is celebrated on the eight day of the black moon fortnight of the Pausa month.
From Odana shasthi till Shivaratri Lord Lingaraj is dressed in warm clothes.
Rukuna Rath of Ashokashtami
Ashokashtami festival happens on the Chaitra Shukla Ashtami tithi. Here, Lord Lingaraj’s representative Deity Sri Chandrashekhar goes to Rameshwar Temple (Mausima Temple) for five days along with Rukmini Devi and Lord Vasudeva. The Deities are taken in a 35 feet high chariot, pulled by devotees enthusiastically. The uniqueness of the chariot is that it never takes a turn unlike the other Ratha Yatras. When it’s time to return from the Mausima Temple after 5 days, devotees push the chariot from behind. Hence, the Rukuna Ratha is called Anleuta.
Chandan Yatra is celebrated over a period of 22 days when the Deities of the temple are covered with sandalwood paste and then taken for a ride on a custom built barge in the Bindu Sarovar.
Shivaratri is the most important festival here when lakhs of devotees visit the temple on a single day.
Darshan timings of the Lingaraj Temple
The temple is open for public darshan from 02:00 to 22:30 every day
02:00 – temple opens
02:30 – mangala-arati
06:00 – close darshan. Devotees can also enter and touch the shiva-linga
17:00 – arati
19:00 – sandhya-arati
10:00 – bada-shringar vesha
10:30 – temples closes
Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple. Mobile phones, camera and plastic are not allowed inside the temple.
How to reach the Lingaraj Temple
By Bus – Regular bus service is available to Baramunda Bus Stop located at a distance of five kilometers from the city center from major cities such as Puri, Hyderabad, Raipur, Ranchi and Kolkata.
By Train – Bhubaneswar is well connected to major cities in India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, etc through the Bhubaneswar railway station. You can take a private taxi from there to the Lingaraj Temple.
By Air – The Biju Patnaik International Airport connects Bhubaneswar to major cities in India. The airport is located six kilometers away from the city center.0