Set amidst picturesque settings, Rajarani temple is a perfect symphony of skillful planning, symmetry of form and exquisite craftsmanship. No wonder it is hailed as a masterpiece of Odisha Temple Architecture. Historians speculate that it was called Indresvara Temple and dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The temple was built during the later stages of the Somavamsi rule in the 11th century AD. Today the temple today is devoid of any presiding deity, there are telltale signs in the architecture of the temple to corroborate that it was a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the most notable one being the carving of sage Lakulisa just above the entrance door and below the navagrahas.
The temple is known as Rajarani Temple, because of the red and yellow sandstone called Rajarania that was used in its construction. With passage of time, the stone imparts an amber shade which accentuates the architectural beauty of the temple.
The structural plan of the temple resembles the Kandariya Mahadev Temple of Khajuraho which can be attributed to the fact that the Somavamsi’s came to Odisha from Central India. Unlike the sanctum sanctorum, the jagamohana (entrance hall) is devoid of any carvings (it is believed that the temple for some reasons couldn’t be completed). The stark contrast actually adds to the beauty of the temple.
The temple has another interesting feature which is unique in the temple architecture of Odisha, i.e the tower over the Sanctum Sanctorum rises from the ground like a beehive with smaller miniature towers, one on top of the other merging seamlessly with it, just like a mountain range where the peak is surrounded by smaller mountains. This might well be symbolic of the yearning of the human soul trying to reach higher and higher till it merges with the eternal almighty spirit.
Rajarani temple is great testament to the skillset, infinite patience and perseverance of the architects and their patrons. The temple today is managed by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and is a ticketed monument.
The Rajarani Music Festival held in February each year is a top draw event conducted by Odisha Tourism Department. The festival is graced by the doyens of Indian Classical Music over the years. The serene setting with the magnificent temple as the backdrop coupled with the masters plying their trade just elevates the experience to another level.