The Shatrughaneshwar group of temples are a trio of 6th century A.D. temples built during the Sailodbhava rule, consisting of Shatrughaneshwar temple, Bharateshwar temple, and Lakshmaneshwar temple. They are located immediately opposite the Rameshwar temple, on the left side of the road leading from Kalpana Chowk to Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar (see map at the end of this post).
Recently extensively reconstructed by the ASI and now benefiting from nightime illumination, they were built in the Kalinga style of architecture and are probably the earliest temples still standing in Bhubaneswar. Architectually all three temples are very similar; west-facing, with a square shrine room and a rising tiered Shikhara above, and the absence of any mandap in front.
Orissa has been connected to various events from the Ramayana period, so it perhaps not surprising that the temple names in this group reflect heros from the epic. Together with the neighbouring Rameshwar temple, the four main heros of Ramayana are reflected here.
The Shatrughaneshwar temple is the best preserved of the group and has the most intact carvings present on the exterior, which are equisite. It’s probably due to this fact that the entire group adopted the name from this temple.
I have found a number of instances where the names of the temples have become a little mixed up. To clarify that situation, the Shatrughaneshwar temple is the southern most temple, and is on the far left if you stand in the temple complex with your back to the main road.
The front portal of the temple is highly ornamented and well worth closer inspection. A lower panel depicts Ravananugraha with an upper panel showcasing Nataraja.
This was my first experience of seeing the highly decorative and detailed Orissan carving that was to become commonplace over the following ten days in Bhubaneswar, so it’s probably fair to say that I did go a little over the top with my photography here :-).
The miniscule size of some of the carving detail is staggering, I regret not taking more photographs with a scale so they can be more easily appreciated.
Clicking on any of these images should present you with an opportunity to zoom, which would be well worth doing to fully appreciate the craftsmanship of the builders and carvers of this temple.
The lintel above the doorway has Shiva and Parvati in the center. Below them are their mounts, a Nandi and a lion.
The presiding deity within the Shatrughaneshwar temple is a Shiva linga, situated within a circular yonipitha.
Situated in the middle of the group, the Bharateshwar temple is also adorned with exterior carvings, but to a far lesser extent than it’s southerly neighbour.
Of particular note is the lintel above the doorway, which is decorated with a frieze depicting the what appears to be the capture of wild elephants.
The presiding deity here is also a Shiva linga, situated within a circular yonipitha.
Located at the northern extent of the temple complex, Lakshmaneshwar temple is the least decorative of the group, and quite possibly the most restored. A cursory inspection would suggest that this temple has been reconstructed from the top of the entranceway upwards.
The majority of intricate carvings exist around the entrance to the temple, with a few other isolated examples on the temple exterior, and also deposited on the edge of the complex.
As with all three temples, the main entrance door is in a T-shape design, which is reminiscent of Gupta period temples. The entrances are carved with four bands, mostly displaying scroll work.
An inscription on the lintel of this temple has given a near concrete date for the construction of all three temples in the Shatrughaneshwar group.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the presiding deity in the Lakshmaneshwar temple is a Shiva linga, as are all the deities in this temple group.
The Shatrughaneshwar temples together with Rameshwar, Kusesvara and Labesvara makes for a great couple of hours of exploring what are catagorised as the northern group of ancient temples within the city of Bhubaneshwar. They also act as a good introduction as to what to expect as your temple touring continues in the city. Whilst these temples are wonderful in themselves, the real highlights are yet to come…
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