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A Gem of Architecture - Mukteswara Temple in Odisha

The beautiful 10th century Mukteswara temple in Bhubaneshwar is known as the Gem of Odisha architecture. The most striking feature of the temple is the arched gateway with thick ornamented pillars with statues of women in languorous repose and figures of monkeys and peacocks, showing the influence of Buddhist architecture.

Mukteswara means Lord of Freedom and is dedicated to Shiva. There are a number of sculptures of skeletal ascetics in teaching or meditation poses. Some scholars say that the temple was perhaps a center for Tantric initiation. The outer face of the compound wall has niches of Hindu deities like Saraswathi, Ganesha and Lakulisha (the fifth century founder of the Pashupata sect of tantric Saivism). According to tradition, barren women give birth to sons if they take a dip in Madicha Kunda tank in the premises of the temple on the night before Ashokastami car festival. On the evening, the water in the tank is sold to the public.

The state tourism department organises an annual three-day Mukteswar Dance Festival in the temple premises, showcasing Odissi, the classical dance form of Odisha.