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Thursday 2 February 2023

Chitrakarini Temple - The Paintress

If you are visiting Bhubaneswar on a leisurely holiday, try to explore temples that do not see crowds nor much interest. Apart from Lingaraj, Rajarani, Ananta Vasudeva and other such famous temples in this city, there are other architectural monuments that are ancient and highly impressive for their carvings.
View of main temple. The four outer towers are not seen here.

One such temple that grabbed my eyeballs was Chitrakarini temple, standing forlorn next to the famous Lingaraj temple. But nobody paid  attention to this beautiful temple as it stood hidden in one corner, surrounded by four miniature shrine structures.

No deities in the outer towers

View of the tower near the entrance to temple

Abutting the compound wall of Lingaraj Temple, this small Shakti temple is ensconced in a small garden. As other Kalinga style temples, the Chitrakarini is divided into two parts – the sanctum sanctorum and Jagamohana. The main deity of Chamunda Devi housed in the sanctum. Worship of the goddess is allowed and pooja and other rituals are performed twice a day.

Goddess Chitrakarini, a form of Goddess Saraswati is worshipped, no photo allowed

As per the ASI, the temple was built in the 13th century by the Ganga King – Narasingha Deva-1. We spoke to one of the ASI guides here who related the details behind the naming of the temple. According to the guide, the temple is named Chitrakarini (a goddess who paints and denotes knowledge and creative arts). She is in fact, another form of Goddess Saraswati. The local priest said it was to honor the contribution of women towards human existence in every sphere of life that this temple was built.
Carvings on Stone Panels

So, it is not surprising that such a small temple in the shadow of the great Lingaraj temple, demonstrates its prowess in stone architecture and every form of carvings, images, and motifs. Every level of the temple's outer structure is so designed and crafted that one is left wondering at the creativity and abilities of the temple carvers.
Some damaged figurines

In a rectangular alignment, the four miniature shrines around the main temple are placed perfectly and its carvings preserved well. However, some parts of the shrines are damaged with many idols having lost their body parts. If you are interested in knowing more about carvings in the Chitrakarini temple, then look for it in Part-2.
How To Reach There?
Chitrakarini temple is situated just next to the famous Lingaraj temple which is the Lingaraj temple Road in the Old Town area of Bhubaneshwar. Preserved by the ASI, entry to the temple is free despite being a Monument site of National Importance.

Location map:

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