Architecture of Rajarani Temple

Rajarani Temple
Rajarani Temple, Bhubaneswar Credit: Amartya Bag

The Rajarani temple (A.D. 1000-1022) in Bhubaneswar is a splendur in Odish-an architecture. Some historians think that its name was Indresvara or Indralingesvara as per the name its builder lndraratha, an illustrious somavamsi ruler. This temple has no presiding deity at present and it is famous as a temple having no deity.

The Rajarani temple stands on a platform having three mouldings. The temple has a punchanga Bada. The Vimana of the temple represents Rekha style clustered with miniature Sikharas. Its Jagamohana is a Pidha deula having a pyramidal structure. It is Pancharatha in plan. In is crowned with a Kalasa. In the Rajarani temple, the Navagraha Panel appears on the lintels of both the purch and the sanctur. The Digpalas, Dvarapalas and other decorative motifs are found on the body of the temple. The Vimana of the temple bears a large number of its miniature prototype called as Anger-sikharas. The images of beautiful ladies, Dikpalas and shall images in alto-relievo of the vimana add lusture to the temple. Considered from every angle, the Rajarani temple attains perfaction in the Kalingan style of temple architechure.

Architectural Details and Design Features

Rajarani temple plan
Rajarani Temple Plan, Credit: James Fergusson

The temples of Odisha have two parts namely the sanctum (deul or vimana) and the other is place from where pilgrims view the sanctum (called jagamohana). The initial deul temples were without the jagamohana as seen in some of the older temples in Bhubaneswar while the later temples had two additional structures namely nata-mandapa (festival hall) and bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings). The vimana is square in plan, and the walls are variegated by essaults(called rathas or pagas). Amalaka (also called mastaka), a stone disk with ridges on the rim, is placed over the bada (tower) of the temple. Rajarani Temple stands on a raised platform. The temple was constructed of dull red and yellow sandstone locally called “Rajarani”.


It is pancharatha in plan with a curvilinear superstructure (rekha shikhara) 18m(55 ft) tall. The vimana (tower) is surrounded by a cluster of miniature towers with double crowning elements and appears round, unlike other temples in Bhubaneswar but like the towers of Khajuraho temples. The temple stands on a plinth with three mouldings. The bada consists of five divisions instead of the three divisions usually found in other temples. The vimana rises to a height of 17.98 metres (59.0 ft) from the basement. The vimana (sanctum) measures 10.25 ft (3.12 m)*10.25 ft (3.12 m) from the inside, 31 ft (9.4 m)*29 ft (8.8 m) from the outside. Its spire is decorated with clusters of turrets (replication of the spire itself) emerging from the rib of the spire. The temple has panchanga bada, or five divisions, namely, pabhaga, talajangha, bandhana, uparajangha and baranda. The lowermost division, called the pabhaga, has five decorative mouldings, namely, khura, kumbha, patta, kani and basanta. The superstructure (gandi) of the temple has a number of miniature turrets (angashikharas). The superstructure is crowned with a fluted disc-shaped architectural piece called an amalaka, and a vase (kalasa) surmounts it as the crowning finial.


The jagamohana (porch), though demonstrating a pyramidal structure, is yet to take on the status of a complete structure on its own. It bears signs of the repair done in 1903 when it collapsed into ruins. The jagamohana measures 17.83 ft (5.43 m)*17.83 ft (5.43 m) from the inside and 36 ft (11 m)*36 ft (11 m) from the outside. The tiered (pidha) jagamohana and the interior are plain, possibly left incomplete. The plan of the jagamohana is square compared to the rectangular ones present in earlier temples.


Sculpture at Rajarani Temple
Beautiful Sculpture in the wall of Rajarani temple, Credit: Bernard Gagnon

The sculptures have a depth that was lacking in the Mukteswara Temple sculptures. The slightly projecting entrance is flanked by round thick columns entwined by naga on the left. Guardians of the eight directions project from the base of the temple in the eight directions, starting from the gateway in a clockwise direction around the porch and the deul, ending at the torana (entrance). The other noted sculptures are naga-nagi sthambha, saiva dwarapalas on the entrance doorjambs, and lakulisa on the lintel of entrance, above which is the architrave of Navagrahas.[clarification needed] The best-preserved sculptures of the temple are the standing astadikpalas on the central façade of kanika, appearing on the jangha portion of the bada clad in diaphanous drapery. The image of Varuna is intact and notable for its body ornamentation, coiffure and facial expression. Scenes of the marriage of Shiva, Nataraja, and Parvati are the cult images present in the temple. There are tall, slender, sophisticated nayikas gracing the walls of the sanctum depicted in various roles and moods in amorous dalliance with actions such as turning her head from an emaciated ascetic, fondling her child, holding a branch of tree, attending to her toilet, looking into mirror, taking off her anklet, caressing her pet bird and playing instrument. There are also erotic (mithuna) figures carved in high relief on the projecting portions of the uparajangha. The other decorative motifs are carved in the shape of vyala, jagrata and gajakranta. The scroll motifs are of foliage, creepers and vines (vanalata), each containing lush foliage independent of any stalk or vine.

Inputs From:
1. History of Odisha From Earliest Times to 1434AD by Dr Manas Kumar Das
2. Wikipedia