Mohini Temple – Bhubaneswar

Mohini Temple is situated a very short distance from Markandeshwar Temple on the southern bank of Bindu Sagar tank. The two temples are very similar in terms of plan, but here the exterior of the temple is extremely plain.

Photographing the temple was not easy as there just wasn’t enough room to get the entire structure in shot. As with it’s nearest neighbour (Markandeshwar), the Jagamohana has been replaced with a new structure made of plain sandstone blocks, respecting the original footprint of the mandapa. This has been recently added to further with a metal and corrugated iron front porch.

The exterior of the temple has five niche images (known as Parsvadevta in Odisha), housing images of Ganesha, Kartikeya, Parvati, Duga (possibly, it’s quite damaged), and another unidentified deity.

The temple is thought to date to sometime in the 9th century A.D, with outlines of planned carvings suggesting that it was left unfinished. Similar evidence of this can be seen at the nearby Vaital (Baitala) Deula Temple, although there a considerable amount of the carvings had been completed before the project was abandoned.

These two temples are not alone as examples of the abandonment of carvings in the city, which may suggest there was a period of political instability.

Locals insist that the temple was built by Mohini Devi, queen of Sivakara II of the Bhauma (Kara) dynasty, but it’s unlikely what we see today is that actual structure as the dates are too far apart (by about 150 years). That’s not to say of course that an earlier temple built by Queen Mohini didn’t once stand here.

The presiding deity is a ten armed Chamunda in tantric form, standing on a corpse wearing a garland of skulls and with a sunken belly. The sanctum was locked on my visit so I wasn’t able to see it.

There’s a small subsidiary shrine right next to the main temple without any deity.

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Categories: Bhubaneswar, India, Mohini Temple, Odisha

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