Situated 50m south-east of the main entrance to Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar old city, Ekamreswar Temple has enjoyed a new lease of life in the last few months.
This 12th century Shiva temple built in a Pancha Ratha style was once seriously encroached upon by the surrounding buildings, itself buried by a 2m rise in the ground level, and was often used as an area to dispose garbage by locals. It was a sad story of neglect, but thanks to the Ekamra Ksetra Redevelopment Plan, this has now all changed.
The Ekamra Ksetra Redevelopment Plan covers 66 acres of land around the Lingaraj temple. It includes construction of a Lingaraj Entry Plaza and Heritage Complex, revival of Bindu Sagar Tank, provision for parking spaces, widening of the access roads, numerous relocation projects and a new heritage interpretation centre.
Six acres of land in front of the Lingaraj Temple have been cleared as part of this plan, the result being that Ekamreswar Temple now stands free and proud, and finally visible once more in the landscape. The pace of this change has been both quick and recent. Compare these two photos taken just two months apart.
Prior to this radical landscaping change, the temple underwent a program of excavation and renovation seven years ago. The buried temple was dug out, revealing a number of new carvings, a side shrine (parswa deula) and drainage channel (paduka kunda). You can read a lot more about all of those efforts and discoveries in this Indian Telegraph article.
Clearly work has not completed with this temple. The surrounding new paving rapidly deteriorates towards the drop on ground level, and there is still a significant amount of rubble and carved masonry lying strewn around the base of the temple. Getting access to the temple involves a bit of a precarious climb down, one hopes that soon this whole area will be made good and sound.
It is thought that Bhubaneswar once had nearly 3,000 temples, and is often referred to as India’s Temple City. Rapid urbanisation over the last 100 years has resulted in ~90% of those temples being lost. Thankfully, Ekamreswar Temple will not be one of the casualties.
Note that this temple also goes by the name of Valukesvara.
This temple is not marked on Google Maps (I have added a pin, it’s awaiting approval from Google). The temple is however very easy to find now, just stand at the entrance to Lingaraj Temple and look south-east, it is in plain sight now.
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