· About the Temple

About the Temple

The temple of Sobhaneswara Shiva of Niali is located on the left bank of river Prachi. Niali is a village on the road branching off from Phulnakhara on the N.H. 5. It is connected by bus services from Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Kakatpur. Itis about 47 km from Cuttack, and 49 km from Bhubaneswar via Phulnakhara.

The Sobhaneswara Shiva temple consists of Vimana, Jagamohana, Natamandira and Bhogamandapa of which the last two parts have been ruined. The main temple (Vimana) represents rekha style of Orissan architecture. The outer walls of the temple are built with saptaratha projections with niches on the rahapaga for parswadevatas. The bada displays the conventional five-fold divisions with bandhana and baranda in several mouldings. The gandi is decorated with a series of angasikharas with Nayikas standing in various captivating poses. The uppermost part of the temple consists of usual components of an Orissan rekha-deula. Though the temple is now in ruins, the eight Digpalas or Gods of eight directions with their respective consorts are carved on the body of the main temple. Full of beautiful sculptures, the temple can be considered as a treasure house for scholars and tourists. Of the beautiful images, eight four-armed images of Vishnu are worshipped here as Madhava.

The commemorative inscriptions in Devnagari script, on the outer wall of the Jagamohana record the erection of the temple in the Ganga period, i.e. in the 12th century. The inscriptions of the temple record the performance of Devadasi dance in the Dancing hall of the temple. The Department of Archeology has built a museum here where the images of Yama, Baraha and eight images of Vishnu are kept. The festivals of Durga Puja and Sivaratri draw a large number of crowd to this place.

To the west of Sobhanesvara, on the bank of Prachi, an eight-armed image of Chamunda (Durga) is worshipped as Harachandi. The image of Chamunda found here is considered the oldest Chamunda image(8th-9th century) so far discovered in Orissa.  A 6th-century AD chaturmukha Brahma image on a lotus pedestal is found, enshrined in a newly constructed pidha temple, built in place of the old broken structure. The Madhava images of the Sobhaneswara temple along with the two Vishnu images recovered from the pond near the Brahma temple lead to the belief that the place was once the seat of Vaishnavism.


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