Dedicated to: Lord Shiva (Lord Lingaraja)
Lingaraj temple is one of the most popular temples of Orissa. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, also known as ‘Lingaraj’. It is adorned with beautiful sculptures, which have been carved on the spire. Lingaraja temple is approximately 54.8 metres high and enshrines a huge statue of Lord Shiva, made up of granite. The idol is 8 feet in diameter and is placed on a platform that is about 8 inches above ground. The deity is bathed everyday with water, milk and bhang (marijuana).
Lingaraj temple of Bhubaneswar is believed to date back to the later half of eleventh century. However, some people are of the belief that, some parts of the temple have been there since the sixth century. It is also said that the temple was constructed by Jajati Keshari, the SomaVanshi King. However, there are no historical records to authenticate the claim. The high walls of Lingaraja temple, that have been made by using solid red sandstones, lend it the look of a fortress, when viewed from outside.
On the eastern side of the temple, lies its solitary entrance point, which is commonly known as the ‘Simhadwara’ or the ‘Lions’ Gate’. One of the oldest temples of Bhubaneshwar, Lingaraja has 150 smaller shrines inside its huge courtyard. Lingaraj temple is basically made up of four parts, namely the main temple, the ‘Yajna Shala’, the ‘Bhoga Mandap’ and the ‘Natya Shala’. Along with Lord Shiva, it also enshrines Lord Vishnu, in the form of Saligramam idol. The main gates of the temple have Lord Shiva’s Trishul on one side and Lord Vishnu’s Chakra on the other.