Patalesvara Temple at the Puri Jagannatha
Temple Complex


Sep 24, SAMBALPUR, ORISSA (SUN) — The temple of Patalesvara is an important ancient Saiva shrine of Orissa. It is situated on the northern side inner courtyard of the Jagannatha Temple complex of Puri. This temple is exactly located to the east of Srirama temple.

The Patalesvara Siva is one of the Astasambhus, or eight guardian Sambhus of the Kshetra of Lord Purusottama. The names of other Sambhus are Lokanatha, Markandesvara, Yamesvara, Nilakanthesvara, Kapalamochana, Belesvara and Isanesvara.

The temple of Patalesvara is famous for the inscriptions incised in three different characters on the left doorjamb of the main deula or vimana.[2] The temple is erected from 27 feet below the ground level.[3] From the architectural point of view, the Patalesvara temple is an important structure. It was built so as to make the lower portion appear buried in the temple courtyard. A descending flight of steps leads to the floor of the sanctum enshrining the Svayambhu lingam of the deity.[4] This temple is one of the ancient Saiva shrines in the precinct of the Jagannatha Temple.

As many as four inscriptions from the time of Anangabhima Deva III relating to the management of the Jagannatha Temple are noticed around the door entrance to the sanctum. The first grant records the offering of milk, butter, rice and curd to the Lord.[5] The second inscription mentions the grant of two batis and five manas of land by the Padatika Khanda to Lord Jagannatha for daily offerings of clarified butter, rice, curry, curd and betel leaf.[6] The third grant refers to the gift of two batis of land in Kuranga and Murada villages by Kirtisvara Naik to Lord Jagannatha, for naivedya.[7] The fourth grant indicates the gift of one bati and ten manas of land for supply of naivedya and ten bundles of fragrant flowers every day for the Deity.[8]

These four inscriptions on the left walls of the Patalesvara temple, written in three different characters, refer in the most eulogistic terms to Anangabhima Deva.[9] Dr. S.N. Rajaguru has stated about the inscription records were from the Saka year 1158, i.e., corresponding to 1236 AD. It is written in the 39th Anka of Sri Anangabhima Deva-III in the kingdom of Lord Sri Purusottama, in the month of Makara, for grant of a plot of land measuring two batis and five manas, in the village of Khanda Saisasa East under the supervision of Bisu Padhi for Naivedya.[10]

The inscriptions of the temple are incised in proto-Oriya characters of the 13th century AD.[11] The place where the inscription is located is very dark, and it is very difficult to stay there for a great length of time. Due to the inscriptions being incised in the wall, the temple is of considerable historical importance.

Art and Architecture of the Temple

The temple of Patalesvara consists of three structures, such as the vimana, jagamohana and natamandapa. This temple is built in sandstone, and it faces to the east.


The vimana of the Patalesvara temple is a rekha deula and its height is about 35 feet from the ground level. Half of this temple is submerged in the earth. The main deula or vimana lies at a depth of 20 feet from the level of the inner courtyard of the Jagannatha Temple.[12] At present, the entire bada portion of the vimana is buried under the earth. The bada of the vimana is surmounted by the curvilinear superstructure, which is thickly plastered with lime mortar. The entire gandi is devoid of decorative ornamentation. The mastaka of the vimana consists of the usual elements of rekha deula such as beki, amalakasila, khapuri, kalasa, ayudha (trident) and dhvaja.

The sanctum preserves the Sivalinga within saktipitha as the presiding Deity of the temple. Pancamukhi (five-faced) Sivalinga has been installed below the saktipitha, so the Linga is not visible from outwards. Hence this Siva is known as Patalesvara. Legend says that Lord Vamana, by putting his third leg on the head of Bali while pressing him to patala, Bali stayed here by becoming Patalesvara Siva.[13]

A descending flight of steps are provided to enter into the floor level of the sanctum, which is about 20 feet below the floor of the Kurma bedha.[14] There is a stone slab which contains the images of Siva-Parvati or Hara-Parvati, and it is closely installed to the backside wall of the sanctum. A painting of a ten-headed Ravana figure is also excellently depicted on the backside wall of the sanctum.

The vimana has one doorway towards the jagamohana. The jambs of the doorway are devoid of decorative ornamentation. The figures of navagrahas are finely carved on the doorway lintel. They are all in seated posture (padmasana) with the usual attributes in their hands. The head of Rahu is depicted above the doorway lintel. Here, the image of Gaja-Lakshmi is carved on the architrave above the Rahu head. Nandi and Bhrungi are installed on either side base of the doorjambs. They are acting as the traditional dvarapalas of the temple.


The jagamohana of the Patalesvara temple is a pidha deula and its height is about 15 feet from the surface of the temple complex. The base of the bada is rectangular and it measures approximately 30 feet in length and 15 feet in width. The outer walls of the bada are completely undecorated. The pyramidal superstructure is surmounted on the bada of the jagamohana and it consists of three pidhas. There is no element of mastaka found from the top of the upper pidha. The jagamohana has one doorway towards the north.


The natamandapa of the Patalesvara temple is a pidha deula and its height is about 18 feet from the surface of the temple complex. The base of the structure is a square of 15 feet. The structure is erected on a low plinth of 1foot height. The bada of the natamandapa is completely plain. The pyramidal superstructure is surmounted on the bada of the natamandapa and it consists of four flat-shaped pidhas. There is only one kalasa found on the top of the upper pidha. There is no separate wall between the jagamohana and the natamandapa hall. The inner walls of the jagamohana and natamandapa are decorated with some sculptures as well as paintings.

The niches of the southern side inner wall of the jagamohana contain images of Hara-Parvati in a single slab and a small Sivalinga within saktipitha. The images of Hara-Parvati are carved in standing posture on the plain pedestal. Both lion and bull are also depicted on the pedestal. The images of Siva (Hara) displays trisula in right upper hand, abhaya mudra in right lower hand, dambaru in left upper hand and the left lower hand lies on the shoulder of Parvati. Small Sivalinga within saktipitha is installed on the left side of the Hara-Parvati image.

The eastern inner wall of the natamandapa is excellently depicted with the painting of ten-armed Banambara (Siva). The figure of Banambara has been depicted on the prostrate body of an asura (demon). His right hands display naga-pasa, parasu, ankusa, dambaru and varada mudra, while the left side hands possess snake, trident, dhvaja, bell and abhaya mudra.

There is a painting of Kartikeya found on the southeast corner wall of the natamandapa. He is depicted on a peacock, the conventional mount of the Deity. He displays a chakra in right upper hand, arrow in right lower hand, conch in the left upper hand and bow in left lower hand, respectively.

The northeast corner of the natamandapa is also depicted with a painting of Ganesha. The four-handed figure of Ganesha is depicted in standing posture on the dambaru shaped pedestal. He displays nagapasa in right upper hand, broken tusk in right lower hand, ankusa in left upper hand and a ladu in left lower hand, respectively.

Devotees at Patalesvara temple, after visiting Lord Siva, turn their face towards the south and see and pay their obeisances to Nilachakra.

Date of the temple:

The construction of the temple of Patalesvara within the precinct of the main Jagannatha Temple is ascribed to Anangabhima Deva-II, the fifth king of the Ganga dynasty, who is supposed to have ascended the throne in 1192 AD.15 On the basis of the inscriptions of Anangabhima Deva III in the doorway wall, most of the scholars accept that this temple belonged to the Gága period of Orissa history and it was constructed during the contemporary period of the Jagannatha Temple. On the basis of the architectural style and sculptural features, which are rare, the construction period of Patalesvara Temple can be tentatively assigned to the last quarter of the 12th century AD.

It is known from the above discussion that the temple of Patalesvara is an ancient Saiva shrine in the temple complex of Lord Jagannatha. Though the architectural features of the Patalesvara Temple are not so important, from the cultural point of view this temple is an important Saiva shrine of Puri.


1. R.L. Mitra, The Antiquities of Orissa, Vol-II, New Delhi, 1984, pp.229-230.
2. M.M. Ganguly, Orissa and Her Remains; Ancient and Medieval, Calcutta, 1912, p.430.
3. P. K. Pattanaik, "Historic Monuments in the Kshetra of Jagannatha," in M.N. Das(ed), Sidelights on History and Culture of Orissa, Cuttack, 1977, p.510.
4. M.M. Ganguly, Op-cit, p.430.
5. S.N. Rajguru, Inscriptions of the Temples of Puri and Origin of Sri Purusottama Jagannatha, Vol.-I, Part-I, Puri, 1992, p.73.
6. Ibid, p.76.
7. R.P. Mohapatra, Archaeology in Orissa, Sites and Monuments, Vol.-1, New Delhi, 1986, p.164.
8. Ibid.
9. P.K. Pattanaik, Op-cit, p.510.
10. S.N. Rajguru, Op-cit, p.82.
11. R.P. Mohapatra, Op-cit, p.164.
12. Ibid.
13. R.C. Mishra, Purusottama Khetra, Puri, 2003, pp. 119-120
14. G.C. Tripathy, Srikshetra Srimandira Sri Jagannatha (Oriya), Bhubaneswar, 1996, p.42.
15. Prof. Kielhorn (Ed), Epigraphia Indica, Vol.III, p.200. Also see M.M. Ganguly, Op-cit, p.404.
Source: Orissa Review


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