Mukteswara Temple, Bhubaneswar
ORISSA lies on the eastern coast along the Bay of Bengal. The state
once formed a part of the Kalinga kingdom which is best known in ancient history for its
brave resistance against the invasion of the Mauryan King Asoka in the 3rd
century B.C., who ultimately conquered it. That the emperor turned to Buddhism and peace
after witnessing the bloodshed in this war is well known. This also formed the turning
point in the history of Orissa giving a boost to art and architecture in the ancient
The ancient state rose to prominence as a kingdom under Kharavela, a
great conqueror and patron of Jainism, in the second half of the 1st century B.
C. Other great rulers were the kings of the Kesari dynasty and the Eastern Ganga dynasty
who were also great builders.
The Kalinga school of architecture flourished from the 7th
to the 13th century A. D. The most important monuments of this period can be
seen in and around Bhubaneswar and Puri. The Lingaraja Temple (Bhubaneswar), Jagannath
Temple (Puri) and the Sun Temple (Konark) are some of the finest temples of this period.
Few temples can compete with the beauty of the sculptures of Orissan temples.
In fact, the entire length and breadth of the state is dotted with
4,000 monuments and archaeological sites. They include early Jaina caves and temple;
Buddhist monasteries (viharas), domed structures (chaityas), and pillars (stupas); Hindu
temple; mosques, churches; ancient and medieval forts, palaces and colonial architecture.