Bhubaneswar

Brahmeswara Temple – Bhubaneswar

Set within a walled enclosure, the 11th century Brahmeswara temple (also known as Brahmeswar and Brahmeshvara Temple) is located in the east of Bhubaneswar old city, and a short walk from Bhaskareswar and Megheswar Temples.

This is a very important temple both architecturally and historically. Firstly, it is built in a panchayatana style, the first of its kind in Bhubaneswar. We also have a definitive date for the temple’s construction thanks to a dated foundation inscription, which helped scholars place the Odisan temple chronology in the correct order.

The temple complex consists of the principle temple with an additional four corner shrines, a large square tank is immediately south of the compound wall with fragments of carved masonry recovered from the vicinity lining the sides.

In contrast to the neighbouring temples of Bhaskareswar and Megheswar, much ornamentation and sculptural work is still preserved in-situ.

For me the temple was very reminiscent of Mukteshwar Temple, which was built 130 years earlier. I suspect the architects of this temple did draw some influence from that temple.

Sculptures include guardian figures in the courner panels, various forms of Shiva in double tiers of niches on the sanctuary walls, amorous couples in panels on the tower, maidens within the mandapa windows, and rearing beasts almost hidden in deep recesses between the wall projections.

Seated royal and saintly figures receiving homage are depicted in panels above the sanctuary niches and the south mandapa window.

For the first time among Bhubaneswar temples, prominence is given to relief carvings depicting dance and musical activities Although these can be found in earlier temples, at Brahmeswara female musicians are given importance for the first time.

Another first attributed to this temple is the use of iron beams within the fabric of the building. This is certainly the first temple in Odisha to incorporate iron beans, and quite possibly the first example in the whole of India.

The inscription that helped determine the date of this temple tells us that it was built by Kolavatidevi, who was the mother of King Udyota Kesari of the Somavamsi dynasty, in the 18th year of his reign. This corresponds to approximately a date of 1058 A.D.

Unfortunately, the inscription is not still at the temple, it was removed to Calcutta over a century ago which has brought into doubt whether this inscription really does belong to the temple. However, based on further details in the inscription (location and temple features) most scholars agree that it does belong to the Brahmeswara temple.

The presiding deity here is a Shiva Linga. On my visit the temple was quite busy with devotees so I decided not to go inside and disturb anyone. Instead I took a look at the subsidiary shrines.

Due to their location in the east of Bhubaneswar old city and slightly removed from the central temples, Bhaskareswar, Megheswar, and Brahmeswara appear to be infrequently visited aside from local devotees. This is a great shame as they do provide a great introduction to the variety of temples you will encounter in the city, and seeing these temples first really sets the scene for what is to come.


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