Famous Barahi Temple at Chaurasi : Best Specimen of Khakhara Architecture
Barahi Temple at Chaurasi : Best Specimen of Khakhara Architecture
Introduction and Location
In my last article, I had depicted exhaustively about the distinctive Kalingan temple architecture and its gradual progression over an extended period of time i.e. from sixth century till thirteenth century AD. Here I am zeroing in on Barahi temple at Chaurasi ( Puri District, Odisha) which stands apart as a glaring illustration of Khakhara sort of Kalingan architecture. The temple is dedicated to Barahi, one of the SAPTAMATRIKAS for which the old Prachi river valley was once notable.
The Khakhara kind of architecture found in Odisha was developed and excelled generally during the time period of eighth to twelfth century AD. The top portion of Khakhara sort of temple architecture is perpetually elliptical in arrangement and is purely implied for Shakti worship only . The Khakhara temple as per Bhuvanapradipa ( accepted Shilpa text) are balabhi types portrayed by a semicylindrical rooftop resting on a system of beam which is elongated in arrangement and devoted to Shakti worship . The most recognized element of this sort of temple is the barrel vaulted and extended rooftop which slightly looks like an assortment of pumpkins (pumpkin gourd) known as Kakharu in Odia. There are a couple of such temples in Odisha which are devoted to Shakti worship , especially Barahi, Chamunda, Durga etcetera. In such a manner, Barahi temple at Chaurasi, Vaital temple at Bhubaneshwar, Gangeswari temple at Bayalisbati close to Gop, Liyahari temple at Ranipur Jharial close to Bolangir, Durga temple at Baideswar are important. Out of every one of these, the biggest and best preserved specimen of the tenth century Sakta temple in the Prachi river valley in Puri area is, in all honesty, the Barahi temple at Chaurasi ( a little village close to Amareswar which comes on the way while heading to Kakatpur from Nimapada).
Architecture & Sculptural Details
The East confronting Barahi temple comprises of a rectangular sanctum ( Garbhagriha) and one elliptical audience hall ( Jagamohan) with a rooftop made of two inclining porches . The Garbhagriha measures 7.5 mts in stature roughly and 5.65m × 3.9m(length × broadness at the base in the normal proportion of 3:2). The temple lays on a foundation of 70 cm high. The temple has a Pancharatha plan and is made of sandstone which is highly prone to erosion . In a few spots of the temple structure, the stones have been seen totally eroded and thus the fine outlines of the figures are not unmistakably apparent.
The Jagamohan estimates roughly 9.5m× 7.0 m. The interior looks spacious because there lies no column inside. The sculptural treatment of the window portion looks little identical with that of Mukteshwar temple at Bhubaneshwar.The windows and the east facing single main doorway are flanked on both sides by ornamented huge Naga and Nagi columns. The moulding or the upward edges of slanting roof are eased with story frieze themes from the Ramayana . Distinctive hunting sights, flower themes, animal parades have been so carved on the external walls of Jagamohan, that it never seems repetitive. There is a well carved sacrosanct pot ( Kalasa) on the crown of the level top of Jagamohan.
The female guards ( dwarapalas) are two armed and potbellied, their hair looks like tight winding loops. Their bodies ( not face) intently take after the revered image of Goddess Barahi in the Sanctum.Both of them holding cups made of skulls in their left hands and holding mace or noose ( pasa) in their right hands.The Parswadebatas ( side deities) are carved out of independent stone blocks and embedded in the niches.
Goddess Barahi & Parswadebatas
Here I am attaching an image of the Surya (a statue of the Sun God present as a Parswadebata on the wall of the Barahi temple of Churashi in the Puri district of Odisha, India).
The Lord Surya is seen seated on a lotus pedestal with legs crossed having breast plates , high ankle boots, and holding full bloom lotus in both the hands. His charioteer Aruna is seated in front , holding the reins of seven enthusiastic horses.
Attached another sculpture of Lord Ganesh present as a Parswadebata ( Side Deity) on the wall of the abovementioned Barahi temple.The other Parswadebata, a four armed standing Ganesh whose potbelly overhangs his support . A trefoil niche shows up behind his head. He is flanked by the flying Bidyadharas above and Shivganas in the lower corner.
Image III. & IV
Image source: ignca.gov.in
Image source: ignca.gov.in
Revered Goddess Matsya Barahi is accepted to be the Shakti of Baraha.
She has two arms and she is shown seated in lalitasana on a platform. Following the iconographic ordinances, the picture bears the substance of a boar and body of a heavenly lady. Her right hand holds a fish while the left hand holds a kapala( a bowl made of human skull). She has kept her right foot on her Bahana (vehicle or carrier) bison which is situated on the platform at the base. Barahi is addressed with a third eye firmly engraved on her forehead which isn’t unmistakably noticeable as of now. Her hair is embellished as twisting curly loops. Here Barahi is worshipped as per the tantric customs. Goddess Barahi is offered fish everyday.
Image V,VI & VII
This MATSYA BARAHI temple was built in the first quarter of 10th century AD during Somavamsi(dynasty) rulers .
The side deity Lord Ganesh is distinctly visible from the south side.
Image source: Wikipedia
Of the Parswadebatas, just two ( Lord Ganesh is on the south and Lord Surya on the west) are remaining and the niche on the north is lying vacant , perhaps as a result of a stolen idol originally installed there . Ordinarily in a Sakta temple, the Parswadebatas ought to have been in different types of female divinities however here it looks something strange as two male Gods are found as side deities.
The other critical workmanship themes of the temple is the portrayal of erotic boards which were carved and installed may be because of explicit tantric customs. Aside from these ceremonial suggestive portrayals , there are additionally various mithuna figures ( amorous couples) on the Gandi and the clerestory of the Jagamohan rooftop. There are a lot of Yaksha figures with elevated hands as if they are giving support to an uplifted structure.
From a layman point of view, what I can finish up is that the carvings in this mid 10th century temple are very refined and themes inconspicuously different to keep away from repetitiveness. There lies a ton of similarities with Mukteshwar temple at Bhubaneshwar.
Please never forget to give your sincere remarks in the comments section.
Dr. Manoj Mishra
Barahi, Dharmasala, 11th Century
Barahi, Jajpur ( S.D.O office),11th Century