The circular open roofed temple is one of the four surviving temples in India of the yogini cult which flourished in the country from the 8th Century AD to 13th Century AD. The temple located 15KM from Bhubaneswar at a hamlet called Hirapur was built in the 9th century AD and has been attributed to Queen Hiradevi, mother of King Subhakar Dev II of the Bhaumakar dynasty.
There are four surviving yogini temples in the country. Out of the four such temples two are located in Odisha (one in Hirapur and the other one in Ranipur-Jharial in Bolangir Dist and the other two are in modern day Madhya Pradesh).
The yogini cult practiced yoga along with tantrism. The object of worship was usually a Chakra or Wheel which had sixty four spokes, hence the name (Chausathi translates to sixty four in Odia). The presiding deity is Goddess Kali. The yogini’s are believed to be offshoots of the Saptamatrika and are incarnations of Shakti and depicted as vivacious and seem to embrace life rather than withdraw from it. The yogini’s define and represent the ultimate feminine power.
The circular open air structure is a stark departure from the tradition form of temple architecture in Odisha. This may have been necessitated by the fact that the cult worshipped the five elements – air, water, fire, earth and ether or sky. The yoginis are carved out of black slate stone and are depicted riding their vahanas (mounts) here.
One interesting aspect of the temple is that unlike other temples of that time in Odisha and Central India, one doesn’t find any erotic carvings in the yogini temples which according to historians may have been because the cult believed in celibacy as a path to salvation.
The temple was discovered in 1953 by noted historian Shri. Kedarnath Mohapatra who was the curator of the Odisha State Museum then. It is the smallest and the best preserved of the yogini temples in the country. The temple is under the supervision of ASI (Archeological Survey of India)
The Chausathi Yogini Mahotsav held every year between 23rd Dec to 25th Dec. The event has been graced by eminent artists like Sunanda Patnaik and Sonal Mansingh in the past. The three day cultural soiree is organised by city-based organization, Nrutya Prativa and supported by Odisha Tourism. From classical vocal to dance, the festival hosted at a stage near the monument, is a one-of-its-kind experience for visitors