Raja Rani Temple is located in the capital of Odisha, Bhubaneswar, this 11th-century temple is famously known as the ‘love temple’ for its sensuous carvings of women and couples. Ooh la la!
But hold on, before you start imagining a scene from Fifty Shades of Grey, let me tell you that there are no images inside the sanctum, so keep your minds pure, people! Nevertheless, the temple is open to all, irrespective of the deity they worship. It’s like a spiritual melting pot, where everyone can come together and admire the stunning architecture.
Legend has it that the Raja Rani Temple was constructed between the 11th and 12th century, but the exact period remains a mystery. What’s not a mystery, however, is that this temple has influenced the architecture of other temples in central India, like the Khajuraho temples and the Totesvara Mahadeo temple in Kadawa. So, you can think of this temple as the original ground temple architecture.
Speaking of architecture, the Raja Rani Temple is a sight to cheer. It’s made of a reddish-gold sandstone, which is known as Rajarani in the local dialect. The temple is built on a raised platform and comprises two structures – the central shrine or sanctum, and the viewing hall or jagamohana. The vimana, the main sanctum, stands at 17.9 metres tall, with a curvilinear spire over the roof that rises to a height of 59 feet.
The temple facade has three panels depicting Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati enjoying each other’s company, along with some musical attendants in the background. And don’t miss the carving on the western side showing the holy matrimony between Shiva and Parvati. There are also some sophisticated tall and slim nayikas, each with their own unique mood and role. Some are holding a tree branch, some are playing musical instruments, and others are even attending to their toilet needs (hey, everyone’s gotta go).
Now, if that’s not enough to make you want to visit, the temple also has these impressive ‘Guardians of the Eight Directions’ protruding from the base in eight different directions. These guardians include Indra, Agni, Yama, Nirriti, Varuna, Vayu, Kubera and Ishana.
And here’s a fun fact – the temple is called the Raja Rani Temple because of the presence of a Naga and Nagini at the entrance, which led the locals to believe that the king (Raja) and queen (Rani) were associated with the temple. However, historians are not so sure about that.
If you’re a music lover, you’re in luck because the Rajarani Music Festival takes place at the temple every year from January 18 to January 20. The festival showcases Hindustani, Carnatic and Odissi styles of classical music, and features talented musicians from all over the country. It’s a three-day celebration of music and culture that attracts tourists from all parts of India.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your tickets and head to the Raja Rani Temple in Bhubaneswar. It’s a temple like no other, with a rich history and stunning architecture that will leave you awe-struck.