Indralath Temple – A 8th Century AD Brick temple of Ranipur Jharial, Balangiri – Odisha
Indralath Brick Temple, It is a unique brick temple, variously described as a Siva or Vishnu temple. Indralatha is one of the tallest ancient brick temple of Odisha. The sikhara is more than 60 feet high. It is standing on a high platform of sand stone. Some scholars opine that originally it was a Vaisnava temple. Later on it was converted into a Siva temple. However, after careful observation we think that it was a Siva temple. In the temple we notice images of Siva-Parvati, Ganesh etc. The water channel traced out from the linga seems to be the original one. The builders of the famous Indralath brick temple as well as the hypaethral temple of 64 Yoginis are not known for certain. Beglaryand Williams suggest a 7th-century date for Sirpur temple, and therefore, Ranipur Indralath temple being a phototype of the former can be dated in the same epoch as well.
Indralath Temple (Oriya/odia: ଇନ୍ଦ୍ରଲାଠ ଦେଉଳ) is dedicated to Shiva and is situated in Kantabanji block near Ranipur-Jharial in Balangir district. It was supposed that Indra first worshipped lord Shiva here and erected a temple.
The History of Indralath Temple – Ranipur Jharial :-
The Nala rulers of the 7th century A.D. were preeminently Vaisnavites and their political and cultural activities were mostly confined in Rajim, Kalahandi and Balangir region and so the possibility of their association with the construction of this temple may not be ruled out altogether. Beglar is also inclined to take back the antiquity of 64 Yogini as well as the Somesvara Siva temple to the 8th century A.D. In the present state of our knowledge, we cannot say with certainty the precise time and the regime, when and by whom these temples were built. This much we can say here that the accumulated artistic and architectonic accumen of the post-Gupta age seemed to have had significant contribution to the building activities of this center
We believe that our comprehensive survey of art and architecture of South Kosala with special reference to Ranipur-Jharial during the period under discussion reveals that there was unprecedented outburst of artistic activities. Keeping pace with the theoretical concept of the multiplication of gods and goddesses of the various pantheons, the rulers of this region sincerely attempted to reflect them through the medium of stone.
The economic prosperity of the kingdom combined with the benign patronage and zeal of the rulers seem to have offered a most conducive atmosphere for prolific attainment of the artistic excellence of this age. In fact, with numerous monuments Ranipur-Jharial can well be designated as a temple town of an estimable importance in the remote past. Somatirtha Somatirtha is identified with the present twin hamlets of Ranipur-Jharial in Balangir district of Odisha. Beglar who visited the temple town in 1874- 75 counted 57 temples of varied shape and size at various stages of decay and preservation and noted about the existence of about 120 temples in early times.
We made a systematic survey of the temple complex and traced out the outline of the foundation of twenty temples and we believe that not less than 200 temples of various dimensions existed here in the heyday of the sacred place over an area of 2 x l km. Beglar further writes “the occurrence of so many temples at this spot is sufficiently account for by the inscription which records the existence here of a tirth or place of pilgrimage”. He assigns the latest date of the structures to 8th century A.D. and noted historian K.N. Mahapatra between 650 to 950 A.D. Now so far the antiquity of the place as a tirtha is concerned, we are inclined to date back as early as 3rd/4th century A.D.
Our contention is based on the fact that Somatirtha apparently, named after the presiding deity of this sacred centre Somesvara Siva, finds mention in the Vamana Purana.
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