If Parasumreswar temple represents the beginning of the evolution of temple architecture in Odisha, Mukteswar signifies its coming of age. Ironically the two temples are located adjacent to each other and perhaps historically it’s the only time where one can see the architectural evolution made by man in such close proximity.
If the carvings on the Parasurameswar temple are devoid of any ornaments and finery, then the carvings of Mukteswar are filled with intricately carved fineries. The figurines are more proportionate and smaller in size. The Jagamohana or the entrance merges seamlessly with the sanctum sanctorum. One can see the images of Lakulisa the saint who propagated the pashupata sect of Shaivism in the state during the 6th century AD. One can also see depictions of emaciated hermits or ascetics in meditative poses in the outer walls of the temple. One interesting carving depicts a woman writing a letter. Though innocuous, the carving gives an insight that woman did have a standing in the society during those days.
The temple was built during the 10th century AD. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Shiva worshipped as Lord Mukteswara or Lord of spiritual freedom. The temple has been accounted for as a “miniature gem” by historians for its intricate and well-proportioned craftsmanship.
The signature of the temple is the Torana or the arched gate which is one of the most photographed architectural structure in India if not the world. The exquisitely carved pillars of the arched gate leaves tourists and visitors awestruck with its matchless precision and skill.
The intricately carved ceiling is an interesting feature of the temple which is reminiscent of the temples of Central India. This can be attributed to the fact the temple was constructed during the initial rule of the Somavamsi dynasty who came to Odisha from Central India.
The Mukteswar Dance Festival organized by Odisha Tourism is a big draw. The event is held each year from 14th Jan to 16th Jan. The festival has been graced by the doyen’s of Indian Classical Dance and draws huge crowds each year. The graceful moves, the symphony of music against the backdrop of the magnificent temple makes for a mesmerzing experience. There is no entry fee attached to the festival.