Cuttack, being an ancient city, stands in pride as a treasure trove of historic as well as religious monuments. Amareshwara temple is as such. Although it’s a lesser known temple outside the city, it bears numerous mythical importances.
‘Amareshwara’ by the term defines the deity who blesses with immortality. It’s believed that the king of Athagada constructed the temple in order to bring back his son’s life. Lord Shiva appeared in king’s trance and later King, as instructed, build a temple in this particular place as a votive offering after his son was reborn. The temple was destructed afterwards by Muslim invaders of Kalapahada’s timeline and rebuilt by Marathas in the mid of 18th century. Since history is largely an ideological construct and most of the portions are neglected, concrete idea can’t be established.
Another vital attraction of the place is that, here Shiva and Shakti are seen in Hiranyagarbha style. The inner Sanctum owns a circular yonipitha, but ShivaLinga is embedded deep inside the water coming from natural underground fountain throughout the year. Though the phallic form of ShivaLinga straight-faced denotes the sexual term, but ‘lingam’ in sanskrit is also described as the sign or the symbol. In Amareshwara temple, Shiva, who’s the divinity beyond forms, resides in incognito state within the Yonipitha, hence indicating the beginning of the universe. In the early fate of cosmos, Rigveda as well as Brahmanda Purana states, only the seed of the elementary existence exists as Hiranyagarbha. From that very seed, the entire universe generates. Amareshwara temple is exceedingly significant since the presiding deity is of such Hiranyagarbha kind.
Inside the temple premises, there exists a grand pillar of 40 feet, namely Ram Stambha. Including one at Puri, there’re only two Ram Stambhas thoughout Odisha. The priest of the temple said, the pillar was constructed in Biren Mitra’s chief-ministerial term. He also amusingly added, when the Stambha was about to build, devotees wrote Ram’s names on papers and rocks and put them in the pit where it was to be bulid and after the pit was filled, the stambha was constructed. In the lower region of the pillar, an image of Shri Ramchandra with Sita, Hanuman and his brothers is installed.
This Maratha built temple holds classic Kalingan architecture. The temple complex comprises of three chambers although the inner sanctum seems more ancient. Detached structures are found behind the Garbhagriha. The precinct houses few small shrines, each having dwarapalas. Major portion of actual temple area doesn’t belong to today’s temple. Marathas tried to reclaim that exterior places, but still that portion is used as graveyard by the muslim community.
The priests of the temple hereditarily worship the deity. They reside close to the temple as the King allotted land to their forefathers. The temple is now under the control of Endowment department. However, the temple trust carries the management authority. As one of the prime Shiva shrines of Cuttack, the temple gathers heavy crowd during Pankodhara Ekadashi, MahaShivaRatri and Sitalasasthi. Only during the Pankodhara Ekadashi, the water is cleared and the Linga becomes visible.
Even being within the busiest locality of the lively city the temple premise gives tranquil aura. A must see temple of Cuttack!
Hereby I’m adding few albums containing snaps from the temple.