Chitrakarini Temple is located approximately 75m east of Papanasini Temple Complex on Rath Road in Bhubaneswar, right next to northern Lingaraja Temple compound wall.
The east-facing temple is built in the panchayatana layout, with a central main temple accompanied by four smaller subsidiary shrines. The temples are set within a pretty and well manicured garden that is maintained by the ASI.
Although many of the carvings here are either damaged or severely weathered, I found myself very much drawn to this site and for me it was certainly one of the highlights within the city.
The temple is thought to have been constructed around the middle of the 13th century A.D. This potentially suggests it could have been instigated by the Ganga dynasty king Narasingha Deva I (also known as Parama Mahesvara) who reigned over the kingdom of Kalinga (ancient Odisha) between circa 1238 and 1264 A.D. This is the same ruler who is attributed as the builder of the Sun Temple at Konark.
The temple’s name is derived from the Goddess Chitrakarini, a Sanskrit term that roughly translates to “Paintress”. She is a form of the Goddess Saraswati, who is regarded as the prime goddess of knowledge and creative expression.
Today however, the presiding deity is Chamunda. Unfortunately I was explicitly asked not to enter the main temple by the priest, so I can not describe or document the interior at all.
All of the subsidiary shrines are of similar construction, none having a Jagamohana and it’s probably unlikely they ever did have one.
Being smaller structures it’s a little easier to see the detailed carvings up close, the north-west shrine has some particularly nice examples.
The Chitrakarini Temple seems extremely popular with locals, in particular students seeking a quiet green space to sit outside and study. It’s one the only truly pleasant places to sit and relax for a while in Bhubaneswar old city, and its central location lends itself perfectly as somewhere to stop for a bit and have a short rest before continuing your exploration of ancient monuments the city has to offer.
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