Architecture of Vaitala Temple

Vaitala Temple, Bhubaneswar
Credit: Prateek Pattanaik

The Vaitala temple (c. A.D. 775) of Bhubaneswar in a typical temple architecture. It represents the perfact presentation of the Khakhara type of architecture. Although, it represents a ratha type but the finials consists of Amalaka and Ayudha. The plan of the temple is different. It stands on a lower platform. Scroll mouldings are found at the lower basement. Except the west on all the sides of the temple rectangular niches occur on the walls in the form of window.

Between Bada and Mastaka erotic sculptures occur. The Jagamohana of the vaitala temple is rectangular on its four corners are placed the replicas of the Sikhara type of temple. The Jagamohana has no pillar, grill or window. There are fifteen sculptures in the Jagamohana. The inner structure of Vaitala temple has an eight-armed chamunda figure was in the presiding deity.

She is surrounded by other Matrika figures like Brahmane; Mahesvari; Kaumari; Vaishnavi; Varahi and Aindri. The image of Virabhadra is also found associated with the Matrika figures. Historians presume that the vaitala temple was meant for the practice of Tantra rituals. Unusually, the inside of the temple is dark in comparism to other temples. Perhaps, some esoteric practices were going on inside the temple.

Architectural Details and Design Features
Alasa kanya at Vaitala Temple
Credit: Sujit kumar

Vaitaḷa Temple’s striking feature is the shape of its sanctuary tower. The semi-cylindrical shape of its roof is a leading example of Khakhara order of temples— which bears an affinity to the Dravidian Gopuram of the South Indian temples. Its gabled towers with a row of Shikharas reveals unmistakable signs of southern intrusion. The plan of the temple is oblong and the jagamohana is a rectangular structure, but embedded in each angle is a small subsidiary shrine. Vaitala temple boasts of some figures, although executed in relief, are however characterized by delicacy of features and perfect equipoise.

The outer walls are encrusted with panels of Hindu deities, mostly Shiva and his consort Parvati in her Shakti form, hunting processions, capturing of wild elephants and the occasional erotic couples.

Artistic Work at Vaitala Temple
Credit: Prateek Pattanaik

The facade of the deuḷa above the left of the jagamohana is dominated by two chaitya windows—the lower one having a beautifully carved figure of Surya the Sun God noted for its facial expression, with Usha (Dawn) and Pratyusha shooting arrows on either side and with Aruna in front, driving a chariot of seven horses.

The medallion in the upper Chaitya window houses a 10-armed Nataraja or dancing Shiva. In front of the flat roofed Jagamohana is a stone post relieved with two Buddha like figures seated in Dharma-Chakra-Pravartana mudra.

Another striking feature is temple’s Tantric associations, marked by eerie carvings in the sanctum and the image enshrined in the central niche, eight armed Chamunda, locally known as Kapaḷini, is the terrifying form of goddess Durga. Thus, Baitāḷa Deuḷa is a Shakti shrine.

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