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Thursday 2 February 2023

Chitrakarini Temple: Creative Heights

Thank you for joining me from part I

Have you ever heard of a temple that is dedicated to a woman painter? Well, Chitrakarini temple must be the only temple in the world acknowledging the skills and creative expressions of an artist.
Chitrakarini Temple

No other temple in Bhubaneshwar has such fine carvings in such a small space as this temple in the Old Town area. Right from the towers to the basal platform, it is carved with dancers, animal forms, amorous couples, floral patterns, deities, and various other designs.
Close up carvings, many images are damaged

Also, the temple has fine carvings about the responsibilities of a mother and how she contributes to the development of a child. This is nothing but detailing the contributions of a life-giver – a woman who performs the utmost in the life cycle of human beings.
The Floral carved panels

If we take a closer look at both the miniature shrines and the main temple, we can see the skillfully crafted stone sculptures and stone murals. Further, the wall panels of the temple have sculpted images of various gods and goddesses in the right places. Further, day-to-day life activities have been carved using animal and human forms. However, in some places, both forms are intertwined to give a correct meaning to the representation.
Carvings on the outer wall of temple

Unfortunately, in many places, wall panels are partially or fully damaged, maybe due to weathering or some other reasons. Since the temple is dedicated to creative expressions, one can see all the “rasas” on the panels be it shringar Ras, hasya Ras or the Karun Ras. Some of the heads of the couples are missing.
Couples in various poses

Apart from this, one can frequently see Lord Narasimha’s form which is a fusion of both the animal and the human forms. Other images of deities like Ganesh, Sheshnag, Garuda, etc abound in this temple with some of them damaged. Added to this, human interactions with animals have been depicted beautifully all over the outer walls but many of them are damaged, therefore, one has to peer closely to recognize whether it is a pig, lion, or goat.
Carvings on the outer wall

Unlike other temples, the Chitrakarini temple has other unusual carvings where we can see elephants, lions, or even monkeys engaged in their day-to-day life. So, on some panels, we can see a group of jumbos or lions interacting with one another or birds feeding or other such animalistic behavior.
Coming to the main temple, it has mounted murals in different patterns – floral, geometric, maybe inspired by living beings, feminine forms, or nature. These murals have been designed on stone slabs and placed on the wall panels.
Even as we leave the exquisitely carved temple after spending more than an hour, I hope and pray that this temple receives more protection from the authorities as otherwise, with time, this unique heritage too will fade away.

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