Located in the tiny quaint village of Nuapitapada (also known as Pitapada), the Angeswara Temple is located a mere 3.5km away from the Varahi (Barahi) Deula Temple in the neighbouring village of Chaurasi.
This temple offers something a little different from many ancient temples you may visit in Odisha. Firstly, there is no profusion of carvings on the exterior of the temple, it is almost completely plain. Secondly, the fabric of the building is made of red brick, rather than the sandstone you may be more accustomed to seeing.
That said, the temple is believed to originate in the 10th century A.D, built during the period of Somvamsi rule in Odisha at broadly the same time as the Varahi Deula Temple just down the road. I’m not qualified enough to really comment on whether the building that stands today dates to that period, the red brick construction always makes me think that it might be later, but then of course many Buddhist structures in the area (e.g. Kumura) were built prior to the 10th century and are certainly made of bricks.
I arrived at the temple in the late afternoon, the golden rays of the sun played havoc against the red brick as far as photography is concerned. So I apologies for the mixed appearance of the temple in terms of colour !
A legend attached to this temple says that it was built by Karna when he was crowned King of Anga (in Bihar) by Duryodhana. The village got its name Pitapada as the Pandavas performed the last rites of their ancestors. Hence its also called ‘Pitru Tirtha’ or ‘Anga Tirtha’.
The head priest of the temple is Shri Dibakar Dikshit, and together with his three sons Digambar, Dilip and Debender perform all rituals and day to day affairs and maintenance of the temple. The Dikshit family have been serving the temple for many generations, and it’s interesting to note that the family name is not really associated with Odisha, perhaps adding weight to the King of Anga legend. The temple has around 7 acres of agricultural land which is its main source of sustenance, the presiding deity here is a Shiva Lingam.
On my visit, Dibakar was hard at work scaling makeshift (and precarious looking) stepladders attempting to cut back a tree that was encroaching on the shikhara, as well as removing vegetation that had started to take hold in the nooks and crannies of the building. I didn’t volunteer to help 🙂
As well as the main temple there is a separate shrine dedicated to the Goddess Shakti.
The highlight however has to be a third building that contains some wonderful old idols of Chamunda, Shiva Parvati, among other deities.
It was more like a mini museum, and in fact the carvings here were presented in a better way than I have seen in numerous proper museums.
Dibakar and (I assume) some of his sons were more than happy to stop their work and give me a tour of the temple. They were immensely friendly, perhaps even a little surprised and perplexed by having me as a visitor. I certainly get the feeling that this place doesn’t see many outsiders, especially westerners, but in a way that that also enhances the whole experience. So often the further I venture away from the tourist trail and into the unknown, the more memorable times I have.
With the light fading and having had quite a long day (I saw Gangeswari Konark, Kuruma, Varahi and this temple in a single day), it was time to return to Bhubaneswar. I had taken up more than enough of Dibakar’s time, he needed to resume with the much needed temple maintenance.
The Angeswara Temple at Nuapitapada is certainly open from sunrise to sunset. The compound wall has a gate so I assume outside of those hours it will be locked.
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