The imposing temple standing at 180 ft strikes awe and respect amongst its visitors. Built during the 11th century AD. The temple has been described as “One of the finest examples of purely Hindu Temple in India” by noted critic and historian James Fergusson (1808-1886). The temple marks the culmination of the temple architecture in Bhubaneswar which was the cradle of the Kalinga School of Temple Architecture. The sprawling temple complex has one hundred and fifty subsidiary shrines.
The temples are considered a masterpiece of Indian Architecture for its detailed plan, proportions, seamless joints, elegant craftsmanship and impressive dimensions. The temple can broadly be divided into four main halls. The Garba Griha (Sanctum Sanctorum), the Yajana Mandapa (the hall for prayers) the Natya Mandapa (dance and music hall) and the Bhoga Mandapa (where devotees can have the Prasad (offering) of the Lord). The exquisite carvings depicting chores of daily life, the activity centres, apart from being a place of worship makes the temple a place for social and cultural gathering, somewhat like what a modern community center.
Lingaraj is referred to as ‘Swayambhu” – (self-originated Shivling). Another important aspect of the temple is that it signifies the syncretisation of Shaivism and Vaishnavism sects in Odisha. The Shivling is known as Hari Hara. Perhaps the rising cult of Lord Jagannath which coincided with the completion of the Lingaraja Temple had a role to play.
The temple is out of bounds for non-Hindus. However, one can get a view of the entire temple complex and take photographs from a raised platform erected specially for the tourists just outside the temple complex.
The other attraction of the temple is the Bindusagar Lake, located in the north side of the temple. The 1300 ft long and 700 ft wide lake is the centre of activities for the people of Old Town and is the hub of temple festivities.
On the western banks of Bindu Sagar, lies the beautiful garden of Ekamra Van named after the Hindu mythological texts where Bhubaneswar the capital city of Odisha was referred as Ekamra van or a forest of a single mango tree. The garden is home to a variety of plants traditionally associated with Hindu gods and goddess and having spiritual and medicinal significance.
Shivaratri – held in the month of Feb/March – a festival where a woman fasts and prays for the long life of her husband and Rukuna Ratha Yatra held on Ashokastami (around April)- where the representative of Lord Lingaraja - Lord Chandrashekhara visits the maternal aunts home. Rukuna Ratha Yatra – literally means the chariot which doesn’t take a U-turn. Both these festivities draw huge crowds to the temple.