Bhubaneswar

Sisiresvara Temple – Bhubaneswar

Sisiresvara (Sisireswara) Temple is located 100m west of Bindhu Sagar in Bhubaneswar old city, and shares the same compound as Vaital (Baitala) Deula.

The temple is now missing the upper portion of its tower, and the mandapa (jagamohana) has been recently restored with a new roof added. Although it appears to be contemporary with the neighbouring Vaital (Baitala) Deula, it is widely thought that Sisiresvara is slightly earlier and was constructed around 775 A.D.

The central niche on the south side of the mandapa houses an image of a four-armed Lakulisa flanked by three disciples on either side. The style of this carving made me contemplate whether there is a slight Buddhist influence here, and that perhaps some of the artists that worked at Sisiresvara were previous employed at Buddhist sites such as Ratnagiri, Lalitagiri or Udayagiri.

Where as Vaital (Baitala) Deula has a relatively plain mandapa with clear evidence that the intended carvings were planned but not completed, Sisiresvara’s mandapa is full of carvings, hardly an inch is left plain.

The central niche on the southern exterior of the sanctum houses a wonderful image of seated Ganesha.

Unfortunately, I am not able to document anything regarding the north, east, or west elevations of the temple. This is simply down to the level of encroachment that has occurred around the temple.

In particular to the east a relatively recent building renders access impossible, just a few cm of air separate the temple from it’s newly acquired neighbour. I’m staggered as to how this has come to be, how on earth was this permitted ? !!

The situation is hardly any better on the north side. You can just about squeeze between the temple and a “new” building to get to the entrance, but any access to the longer north side is again not possible.

This is such a beautiful early example of Odisan temple architecture and art in Bhubaneswar, and yet clearly at some point in the relatively recent past there has been no regard for it, nor a desire to give the monument any room to breathe. It’s suffocating.

I wonder what the original architects, builders and artisans of this temple would make of how we have treated it over the subsequent centuries.


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