Chitrakarini Temple – Temple of a Paintress

Chitrakarini temple, like Brahmesvara temple, is a panchayatana (quincunx) temple where the main temple stands in the center facing east and a subsidiary shrine is placed at each corner. The overall complex is enclosed within a laterite wall. The central temple is composed of bada, gandi and mastaka. Its square bada is constructed in sapta-ratha style and is consisted of a pabhaga, jangha and baranda. All the pagas are multi-faceted. Pabhaga is made of five regular mouldings. Jangha is divided into two equal storeys, except at raha-paga where the lower storey is larger than the upper. The two storeys of the jangha are separated by a madhya-bandhana of three mouldings. Baranda is consisted of ten mouldings.

Kanika-paga has dikpalas and their corresponding shaktis on lower and upper storey respectively. Pratiratha-paga has mostly amorous couples. Anartha is wider than kanika and pratiratha, thus images on it are enclosed in shallow niches. This paga mostly has images of shikshadana motif and amorous couples. Raha-paga is the widest and has niches on its upper and lower storey. Both these niches are empty. Lower niche is larger than the upper. The upper niche is decorated with naga-nagi pillars, three on each side. This makes the upper niche very small in size.

Gandi has ten storeys and follows the sapta-ratha pattern of the bada. Raha-paga has two bho type vajra-mastaka, smaller one at the base of the gandi and a larger one just above it. Both the vajra-mastakas are topped with gaja-kranta motif.

Unlike the bada, jagamohana is pancharatha in style. It also has multi-faceted pagas. Pabhaga is made of five regular mouldings. Jangha is divided into two equal storeys, separated by a madhya-bandhana of three mouldings. Baranda is consisted of seven mouldings. Raha-paga has two large niches. The lower niche is designed in gavaksha-fashion with five balusters depicting amorous couples. Lintel above the lower gavaksha is decorated with large friezes. Shiva marriage scene is shown on south and Krishna with gopis is shown on the north. The pabhaga portion below lower raha-niche has naga-nagi pillars. The upper raha niche has broken images mostly that of shikshadana motif. Roof of the jagamohana is constricted in two tiers, lower has seven storeys while the upper tier has six storeys.

All the subsidiary shrines are of the same composition, now standing without a jagamohana. These are constructed in pancha-ratha pattern. Legends associate the temple with Chitrakarini goddess, the goddess of painting, a derived form of Saraswati. However, the enshrined deity is a form of Chamunda.

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