Mukteshvara Temple is a 10th-century Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva located in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. The temple dates back to 950–975 CE and is a monument of importance in the study of the development of Hindu temples in Odisha. The stylistic development the Mukteswar marks the culmination of all earlier developments, and initiates a period of experiment which continues for an entire century, as seen in such temples as the Rajarani Temple and Lingaraj temple, both located in Bhubaneswar. It is one of the prominent tourist attractions of the city
The Mukteshvara Temple is found to be the earliest work from the Somavamshi period. Most scholars believe the temple is the successor to Parashurameshvara Temple and built earlier to the Brahmeswara Temple (1060 CE). Percy Brown puts the date of construction of the temple to 950 CE. The presence of a torana, which is not part of any other temple in the region, makes this temple unique and some of the representations indicate the builders were starters of a new culture. K.C. Panigrahi places the temple to be built during 966 CE and postulates that the Somavamshi king Yayati I built the temple. He also associates the legend of Kirtivassa to this temple, but the postulation is not accepted as Kirtivasa is associated with Lingaraja, though both were built at the same time for the same deity, Shiva. There is no historic evidence to conclude that Yayati had built the temple.
The sculptural decoration of the Mukteswara is exquisitely executed. The beautiful sculptures eloquently speak of the sense of proportion and perspective of the sculptor and their unique ability in the exact depiction of the minutest objects. The builders of Mukteswara Temple introduced new architectural designs, new art motifs and new conceptions about the icnography of the cult images. There are a number of depictions of skeletal ascetics among the sculptural images, most of them shown in teaching or meditation poses, which seems appropriate as the name Mukteswara means “Lord who gives freedom through Yoga”. The sculptures in the ceiling of the jagamohan are also an entirely different creation. This 10th century temple has some of the most ornate carvings and renditions of the Panchatantra tales. Sculptures can be found of elephants, monkeys, lions, and other animals. Around the windows of the Jagmohana are monkeys engaged in a variety of humorous and lively scenes depicting popular stories from Panchatantra.
Temple of Mukteswara OrissaThe sophisticated architectural style holds a magnetic appeal that lies in its indigenous glory. Orissa temples like others in India are not merely abodes of deities but a Shraddhanjali (offering) to the most sacred. They are characterised by exquisite, ornamentally carved Gods and Goddesses, kings and queens, animals and flower motifs. Orissa is probably the only State where one can study temple architecture in all its successive stages of development. This beautifully decorated, elaborately carved temple is not far from the Parsurameswar temple. It is one of the smallest temples and the compactness of the temple is also very striking. The tank inside the compound is still used by the priest and the devotees. It is believed that tossing coins in the well will cure a women suffering from infertility. On the door frame one can see the carvings of the local saint, Lakulisa. Its earthy red sandstone body is encrusted with intricate carvings, depicting starved lean looking Sadhus (holy men) to voluptuous, become women bedecked with jewels
The most important feature of the Mukteshvara Temple is the torana, or the arched gateway, dating back to about 900 CE and showing the influence of Buddhist architecture. The arched gateway has thick pillars that have strings of beads and other ornaments carved on statues of smiling women in languorous repose. The porch is a walled chamber with a low, massive roof and internal pillars. The combination of vertical and horizontal lines is skilfully arranged so as to give dignity of buildings of moderate height. This early astylar form of the temple is best illustrated in this temple. The gateway has sculptures that range from elaborate scrolls to pleasant female forms and figures of monkeys and peacocks. The front and back of the arch are similar in design
Mukteshvara means “Lord of Freedom”. The temple is dedicated to Hindu god Shiva. There are a number of sculptures of skeletal ascetics in teaching or meditation poses. Some scholars correlate the role of the temple as a centre for Tantric initiation with the name Mukteshvara as a possible thesis. The outer face of the compound wall has niches of Hindu deities like Saraswathi, Ganesha and Lakulisha (the fifth century founder of the Pashupata sect of tantric Shaivism).The numerous images of Lakulisha are found in miniature forms within Chaitya arches, showing various mudras like yoga, Bhumispara and vyakyana wit yogapatta tied to their knees. They are accompanied by the images of the disciples. According to tradition, barren women give birth to sons if they take a dip in Madicha Kunda tank in the premises of the temple on the night before Ashokashtami car festival. On the evening, the water in the tank is sold to the public.
The Department of Tourism of the state government organises a three-day yearly dance function called Mukteswar Dance Festival in the temple premises. This festival celebrates the features of Odissi, the classical dance form of Odisha. Popular Odissi dancers perform during the function, accompanied by instruments like mardal.The event is webcast in the state government portal.