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The finest of ancient Odisha architecture at Lingaraja Temple

The 11th century Lingaraja temple, which soars above the city of Bhubaneswar and dominates the landscape, is considered the culmination of Orissan temple architectural skill. Built by kings from the Somavamsi dynasty, with later additions from the Ganga rulers, Shiva is worshipped as Harihara, a combined form of Vishnu and Shiva, possibly because of the rising prominence of Jagannath cult emnating from the Ganga rulers, who built the Jagannath Temple in Puri.

According to Sanskrit texts, a 7th century stone temple preceded the Lingaraja temple and fragments of this earlier structure appear in the extant building.

Interestingly, unlike most of the other important temples in Bhubaneswar, the Lingaraja is very much in active worship, but entrance is prohibited to non-Hindus. A viewing platform provides a good look at the compound and the main buildings.

The tower of the Lingaraja reaches a height of just over 180 feet. The Lingaraja adds two new structures: a hall of dance and a hall of offering, associated with the rising prominence of the devadasi system. Temple sculptures show people engaged in religious and musical activities.

Bhubaneswar is called the Ekamra Kshetra as the deity of Lingaraj was originally under a mango tree (Ekamra) as noted in Ekamra Purana, a 13th-century Sanskrit treatise. There are 150 interesting subsidiary shrines within the immense Lingaraja complex.