Lingaraj Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Harihara, a form of Shiva and is one of the oldest temples in Bhubaneswar, the capital of the East Indian state of Odisha (formerly Orissa).
The temple is the most prominent landmark of the Bhubaneswar city and one of the major tourist attractions of the state.
The Lingaraja temple is the largest temple in Bhubaneswar. The central tower of the temple is 180 ft (55 m) tall. The temple represents the quintessence of the Kalinga Architecture and culminating the medieval stages of the architectural tradition at Bhubaneswar.
The temple is believed to be built by the kings from the Somavamsi dynasty, with later additions from the Ganga rulers. The temple is built in the Deula style that has four components namely, vimana (structure containing the sanctum), jagamohana (assembly hall), natamandira (festival hall) andbhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings), each increasing in the height to its predecessor. The temple complex has 50 other shrines and is enclosed by a large compound wall.
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. The temple is active in worship practises, unlike most other temples in Bhubaneswar and Shiva is worshipped as Harihara, a combined form of Vishnu and Shiva.
The temple has images of Vishnu, possibly because of the rising prominence of Jagannath cult emnating from the Ganga rulers who built the Jagannath Temple in Puri in the 12th century.
Bhubaneswar is called the Ekamra Kshetra as the deity of Lingaraj was originally under a mango tree (Ekamra). Ekamra Purana, a Sanskrit treatise of the 13th century mentions that the presiding deity was not seen as lingam (an aniconic form of Shiva) during the Satya and Treta yugas and only during the Dwapara and Kali yugas, it emerged as a lingam.
The lingam in the temple is a natural unshaped stone that rests on a Sakti. Such a lingam is called Krutibasa or Swayambhu and is found in 64 places in different parts of India.
Lingaraj Temple is believed to be the oldest and largest temple of Bhubaneshwar. The temple of Lingaraja is highly revered by the followers of Hinduism. Located at Bhubaneshwar in Orissa, Lingraj Mandir is easily accessible from the city.
The term 'Lingaraj' suggests 'the king of Lingas', where 'linga' is the phallic form of Lord Shiva. In the 11th century, Lingaraj Temple was built by the King Jajati Keshari, who belonged to Soma Vansh. It is thought that when the King shifted his capital from Jaipur to Bhubaneshwar, he started the construction of Lingaraj Temple.
Lingaraj means "The king of Lingam", the symbol of Saivism. Shiva was worshipped as Kirtivasa and later as Harihara and is commonly referred as Tribhuvaneshwara (also called Bhubaneswar), the master of three worlds, namely, heaven, earth and netherworld). His consort is called Bhuvaneshvari.
The temple is more than 1100 years old, dating back in its present form to the last decade of the eleventh century, though there is evidence that part of the temple was built during the sixth century CE as the temple has been emphasized in some of the seventh century Sanskrit texts.
As per Hindu legend, an underground river originating from the Lingaraj temple fills the Bindusagar Tank (meaning ocean drop) and the water is believed to heal physical and spiritual illness. The water from the tank is thus treated sacred and pilgrims take a holy dip during festive occasions.
The central deity of the temple, Lingaraj, is worshipped both as Shiva and Vishnu. The harmony between the two sects of Hinduism, Saivism and Vaishanvism, is seen in this temple where the deity is worshipped as Harihara, a combined form of Vishnu and Shiva.