Bhubaneswar – Past References


    European and other foreign notices of Odisha (old Orissa) are known since 1632. William Bruton visited Cuttack, in 1632, with his companions, led by Ralph Cartwright. In 1633, he paid an official visit to the Jagannath Puri temple, which he refers as the ‘White Pagoda at Jaggarnat’. He tells that its main image is in shape of a great serpent with seven heads, and each cheek of the face having a wing, which opens and shuts. Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a French explorer, visited Puri in 1666 and Francois Bernier, French physician and explorer, visited in 1671. These different visits were mostly official or for business purpose, none intended for a survey of the region in general. Also, all of these were centered around Puri, whose ratha-yatra and cult of Jagannatha was well famed world over. The below references are for the accounts where Odisha or Bhubaneswar finds itself as the central theme of the survey and documentation.

    Mackenzie (1815, Book 14 & 15 of Col. Mackenzie’s collection at India Office Library, London) – Odisha came under the British administration in 1803. Col. Mackenzie sent his draftsmen to prepare drawings of the temples at Bhubaneswar, Puri, Jajpur and Konark. Book 14 of his collection has 37 drawings and Book 15 has 78 drawings. Apart from the captions of the photographs, there is not much text provided. However, his drawings provide a glimpse into the buildings and environs in its pristine beauty during that time.

    Stirling, Andrew (1825 – An Account, Geographical, Statistical and Historical of Orissa proper, or Cuttack) – Stirling is the first European credited with documenting Odisha. He provided a detailed account of this region corresponding to its history, geography, vegetation, crops, revenue, natural resources, culture and architecture. For its history and rulers, mostly to the later periods of Odishan history, Stiriling relies mostly on the local chronicles; Vamsavali, a Sanskrit work belonging to brahman at Puri; Raj Charitra, a chapter from Madala-Panji, the local chronicles of the Jagannath Puri temple. As these chronicles were having many errors and insertions, therefore these could not be taken at their face value. On the temples and architecture, he mentions very few temples and building at Bhubaneswar, Puri, Cuttack, Jajpur and Konark. However, these descriptions are very brief, mostly narrating the anecdotes connected with these various places.

    Prinsep, James (1837, The Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal vol VI) – Prinsep’s main contribution towards study of Odisha is in deciphering its inscriptions, at Dhauli and at Udayagiri and Khandagiri. His article, Note on Inscription at Udayagiri and Khandgiri in Cuttack, was published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Prinsep was the first to provide a sketch of the Dhauli elephant.

    Kittoe, Markham (1838, The Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal vol VII Part I & II) – Kittoe was deputed by the Coal and Mineral Committee to make a survey of supposed Odishan coalfields in 1838. During this commission, he also took upon personal tours to satisfy his zeal as an antiquary explorer. His accounts were published as, “Mr. Kittoe’s Journal of his Tour in the Province of Orissa” in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Kittoe left accounts of his visit to Jajpur, Cuttack, Konark (spelt Kanarak), Puri (spelt Pooree), Khandagiri and Bhubaneswar. At Jajpur, he mentions seeing three large images of matrikas and a pillar. At Konark, Kittoe showed his sadness and anger on the vandalism in the hands of the natives as well as European antiquarians. He mentions that Khurda king had demolished all three entrances and moved the stone to Puri. In the process, his masons pick out the figures and throw these down to take their change of being broken to pieces. They leave the once which are broken at spot and carry away the unbroken ones. Kittoe, like any other European traveler, was denied access to Jagannatha, Gondicha at Puri and Lingaraja at Bhubaneswar, therefore his account of these places are very brief. He can be credited as the first person to discover the Dhauli site, its inscription and elephant. He also traveled to Dhenkanal (spelt Dekennal), Khurda, Talcher and other areas which were not explored earlier. His account of the Durga temple at Baideswar is of much importance.

    Lingaraja temple complex at Bhubaneshwar taken by Henry Dixon in the early 1860’s | British Library

    Fergusson, James (1848, Picturesque Illustrations of Ancient Architecture in Hindostan) – Fergusson visited India multiple times between 1834 and 1843, his first visit to Odisha was taken in 1837 in which he covered Bhubaneswar (spelt Bobaneswar), Cuttack, Puri, Konark (spelt Kunaruc) and caves of Khandagiri and Udaigiri. This specific work of Fergusson has 24 large-sized lithographs, prepared by T C Dibdin, with 70 page explanation. 4 lithographs of Odisha are featured in this, those of Lingaraja Temple, Puri Jagannath, Konark or Black Pagoda and Temple of Kapila Devi of Bobaneswar.

    Laurie, William F B (1850, Orissa : The Garden of Superstition and Idolatry) – This work was majorly centered around the cult of Jagannath and its temple at Puri. About Bhubaneswar he mentions that it was known as ‘World of Temples’ and had quite a famed reputation among the inquisitive travelers of that time. Few hundreds of pilgrims gather annually for ratha-yatra of the Lingaraja however that temple does not get much support from the government and as well as from the king of Khurda. About the Lingaraja temple, he writes, “The most picturesque view of the great Pagoda of Bhobaneswar is to be obtained by proceeding two or three miles westward on the road to Khandagiri, when, from its vastly superior height, it becomes the only temple observable; then it certainly does present a most majestic appearance, towering to the skies like an apotheosis of science, asserting the undisputed right of India to claim a high rank among the scientific nations of antiquity.”

    Hunter, W W (1872 – Orissa in two volumes) – Hunter’s two volume work is concentrated on the native rulers of Odisha, primarily drawing his information from Madala Panji, local chronicles of the Jagannatha Temple. His account started off with Chilka Lake and culminates at Puri. He describes the legends and anecdotes connected with the Puri temple and its ratha-yatra. But apart from Puri, his work is devoid of any other place and its remains.

    Fergusson, James (1876 – History of Indian and Eastern Architecture) – Fergusson is credited as the first scholar providing a systematic overview of the Odishan temples and its architecture. He devoted a full chapter on Odisha in which he covered few temples in Bhubaneswar, Puri, Konark, Cuttack and Jajpur. He established a chronology of the temple construction activity around Odisha. In his chronology, Parasurameshvara Temple is chosen as the earliest specimen, belonging to 500 CE and Jagannath Temple at Puri is taken as the last, assigned to end of twelfth century CE. One main theory he establishes is that the Odishan style is found in its pure form, without any inference of any foreign art or style. It was a solid assessment taking into consideration that it was the first such assessment.

    Beglar, J D (1876, Report of Tours in the South-Eastern Provinces in 1874-75 and 1875-76, vol XII) – J D Beglar was Alexander Cunningham’s assistance who took a tour of Odisha to carry out an archaeological survey for antiquities in 1874-76. His account provides details on the caves of Khandagiri and Udayagiri, Dhauli and Cuttack (spelt Katak). He did not discuss temples like Lingaraja, Jagannath and Konark as these were already documented by earlier scholars. The importance of his work lies in his exploration of otherwise unexplored area around Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Khurda, Baudh, Nyagarh etc. Earlier to his work, all others were primarily concentrated on Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark only.

    Rajendralala Mitra (1875 & 1880 – The Antiquities of Orissa in two vols) – This monograph on Odisha was commissioned on the order of the then Government of India. Mitra covered Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark. Mitra had an advantage over the foreign explorers that he was allowed to enter inside the temple premises, the luxury not extended to a foreigner. This resulted in richness of his accounts embellished with as insider story. Being a native, he did not face much difficulties in acquiring knowledge from the priestly community. On the favorable condition of Odisha, suiting the purpose of reconstructing its history, Mitra writes, “Cut off from the rest of India by ranges of hills and inhospitable wilds on one side, and hemmed in by the sea on the other, it enjoyed perfect immunity for a long time from the inroads of the Muhammadans, and even in its worst days did not suffer so much as the rest of India……The ancient monuments it contains are therefore, more authentic than what are to be met with in most other parts of India, and as such, have a peculiar interest and significance for the antiquarian.” In his first volume, he covered very generic topics such as history of religions, Hindu religion and its tenats, history of Indian architecture and place for Odishan temple architecture, sculptures and ornamentation. His second volume covers temples at Bhubaneswar, Puri, Konark, Jajpur and Cuttack. Mitra did not try to establish a chronology of temples, as well as description of their architecture and iconography. He followed the temples mentioned in a medieval pilgrimage guide Ekamra Chandrika. He gave more attention towards the setting, physical condition and anecdotes connected to a temple.

    ‘View of Temples at Bhavaneswara, July 1820.’ by an anonymous artist working in the British school | British Library

    Arnott, M H (1903, Report, with photographs, of the repairs executed to some of the principal temples at Bhubaneswar and caves at Khandagiri and Udaigiri Hills, Orissa, India, between 1898 and 1903) – The restoration of some of the most famous Temples of Bhubanesvar owes its credit to the visit paid in 1898 by the then Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, the late Sir John Woodburn. Struck with their dilapidated condition, and realizing to the full their archaeological value, he ordered estimates to be prepared for putting the four principal ones, namely: Brahmesvar, Rajarani, Muktesvar, and Purusramesvar into good order.

    Chakravarti, M M (1908, Certain Unpublished Drawings of Antiquities in Orissa and Northern Circars, published in JASB New Series IV 1908) – Chakravarti mentions that these drawings were discovered in the Asiatic Society’s library and were in two folios. These were about a century old but were never published or described. These two folios belong of Col. Mackenzie, when he worked as the surveyer-general for British govt in 1815. The drawings were of Konark (spelt Kunnaruc), matrika images of Jajpur (spelt Jehaujpoor), sapta-matrikas of Markanda tank at Puri etc.

    O’Malley, L S S (1908, Puri: A Gazetteer) – He describes Bhubaneswar as a village in Khurda sub-division. Its boundary said to be extended from Rameswar temple on the north to the Kapileswar temple on the south, and from the district board bungalow on the west to the Brahmeswar temple on the east. As per 1901 census, the population was 3,053, mostly dominated by brahmans and priests.

    Fergusson & Burgess (1910 – History of Indian and Eastern Architecture vol II) – In this second edition, Fergusson redefines the time window for the construction activities at Bhubaneswar, spanning from seventh century CE to early thirteenth century CE with Parasurameshavara being the earliest. The history section is also revised with the new information coming from different studies happened between this and the first edition.

    Ganguly, M M (1912 – Orissa and her Remains) – Ganguly was the first to take advantage of the knowledge from the local architect community. This knowledge provides him with the terminology for the various components and sections of a temple. He applies this to the majority of the temples belonging to Odisha style. As his terminology was derived from the local community, it was rather crude and native and fails to be applied to temples of Odisha in general. Plans and elevations of temples, part of his study, was very helpful in understanding the components and sections of the Odishan temple architecture. While describing individual temples, Ganguly focuses on the deviations from the standard norms. He did not try any historical chronology or connectivity through architectural changes.

    Muktesvara Temple | wikipedia

    Banerji, R D (1931 – History of Orissa) – Banerji dedicated one chapter, Medieval Architecture, of his two volume work for the Odishan architecture and temples. One of the main importance of his work is the coverage of Baudh and Gandharadi temples as all the previous works were focused more or less on Bhubaneswar, Konark and Puri. His chronology of temples was solely based upon the type of shikharas (towers), and instead of an individual dating of a temple, he divided these into three categories, dating in eight century CE, eight-ninth century CE and tenth century CE.

    Bose, N K (1932 – Canons of Orissan Architecture) – Bose interpreted Bhuvanapradipa and provided a summary of it instead of a proper translation. His work was the first to standardize the terms used for the various components and sections of a temple. From then onward, these terms became the standard for all further studies thus bringing homogeneous vocabulary. The Bhubanapradipa describes three types of temples-the Rekha, Bhadra and the Khakhara. It describes 36 varieties of rekha temples, 5 varieties of bhadra and 3 types of khakhara temples. Much emphasis was given on the measurements and proportions of temple elements.

    B Mishra (1934 – Orissa under the Bhauma Kings) – The main subject of the book was defining the chronology of the Bhauma dynasty. A very small chapter was dedicated to the art and architecture of that period. However, nothing significant was described in that chapter.

    Kramrisch, Stella (1934, Kalinga Temples published in the Journal of the Indian Society of Oriental Art & 1947, The Walls of Orissan Temples published in the Journal of the Indian Society of Oriental Art) – These two articles from Kramrisch can be taken as a series of her interpretations of Odishan temples and decoration. She focused on the embellishments over the walls or vimana, stressing over its visual properties, stylistic developments and how its different parts combine into a cohesive unit. In her usual style, her language is very meta-physical and philosophical, making it little difficult for a commoner to understand.

    Brown, Percy (1942, Indian Architecture : Buddhist and Hindu Periods) – Brown has been credited being the first to present a comprehensive study of Indian architecture using standard historical methodology. Brown dedicated a chapter on Odisha mainly discussing temples of Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark. He is of opinion that there was some foreign influence in the development of Odishan style. He asserts that this foreign influence came from the early Chalukya temples at Aihole. He created three chronological categories in which he assigned the Odishan temples, these were early (750-900 CE), middle (900-1100 CE) and later (1100-1250 CE). No chronology was attempted for the temples within a group.

    Mahatab, H K (1948, Odisha Itihas) – Though Mahatab did not touch upon temple architecture however he finds his mention here as he was one of the pioneer who ignited researches into Odishan history in the mid-twentieth century CE. Mahatab was imprisoned in Ahmadnagar prison during the Quit India Movement. Among the prisoners were also Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. One day Pandit Nehru showed Mahatab a book from Edward Thomson, The Beginning of Indian Princes, where the temple of Jagannath was portrayed as, “Notorious Shrine, the uncouth temple where an incomprehensible people reverenced ugliness as the personification of divine attribute and Brahminism seems to flaunt its differences from all other religions of the modern world”. Mahatab found that he did not much historical information to counter that argument and he also could not name any good reference book on history of Odisha which could refute that argument. This started his journey into becoming a torch bearer of Odishan history. In 1948, his first Odia version came into print. After becoming the chief minister of Odisha, Mahatab was instrumental in many initiatives promoting scientific researches, explorations and excavations. He organized an Indian Historical Congress session in Cuttack in 1949, its first ever in Odisha. He also setup Orissa State Archive, Orissa State Museusm and Orissa State Archaeology department. Sisupalgarh excavation in 1949 was one of his brainchild.

    Goswami, A (1950, Designs from Orissan Temples) – This was a photo album with text contributions from D P Ghosh, N K Bose and Y D Sharma. The purpose of this work was to stand as one record of India’s anonymous craftsmen as a tribute to them. Bose provided a chapter on the Odishan temple architecture and Sharma wrote on the Odishan temple ornamentation. Ghosh provided a short chronology on Odishan temples. As stated above, these all chapters were very brief as the main scope was to provide various designs used for decoration over Odishan temples.

    Vaital Duel, Bhubaneshwar taken by William Henry Cornish in 1892 | British Library

    Sarasvati, S K (1953, Temples of Orissa published in Orissa Historical Research Journal vol I, no 4) – Sarasvati discusses limited and selective temples focusing on description of their various parts and components and refraining himself commenting on their chronological order. He also did not discuss much on their cultural aspect and relative iconography. Sarasvati agrees with Fergusson that Orissan temple is a pure reflection of the original arche type of the Nagara style.

    Ganguly, O C & Goswami, A (1956, Orissan Sculpture and Architecture) – This book is aimed to trace evolution of Odishan temple. The book starts with description of various temples styles across India and then coming to the specific styles found in and around Odisha. Specific architectural and decorative features were discussed. The terminology used for different temple elements was borrowed from N K Bose.

    Mitra, Debala (1958, Bhubaneswar) – This guide book was published by Archaeological Survey of India for tourists and visitors visiting Bhubaneswar. It was highly condensed in its material however it covered all major aspects and discussions on the temples and other edifices. All the previous studies were consulted and a very brief account was presented to a reader therefore making it very comfortable for a commoner.

    Panigrahi, K C (1961, Archaeological Remains at Bhubaneswar) – This was the first comprehensive study which surpassed all before it. Panigrahi attempted a chronology taking into account inscriptions, culture, religion, political situation and architectural style, constituting a solid foundation for any careful study. In his attempt, he was successful in dating the Parasuramesvara temple, assigning it to 600-650 CE. He also established the role of Somavamshi dynasty in temple building activities in and around Bhubaneswar. Based upon the presence of inscriptions on different temples, he created four chronological groups in which various temples were assigned. There groups were Parasuramesvara, Vaitala, Brahmesvara and Ananta-Vasudeva. However, the dating and chronology of temples assigned within a group remained vague.

    Boner, Alice & Sarma, S R (1966, SilpaPrakasa : Medieval Orissan Sanskrit Text on Temple Architecture) – Alice Boner got much appreciation for her commanding work on interpreting and translating a medieval text throwing light on the Odishan art and architecture. This text was exclusively dedicated to vimanamalini type of temples and included iconography of all major Odishan designs and motifs including images. Terms such as Alasa-kanyas (indolent maidens), Natambara (Shiva dancing), Vajra-mastaka and various geometrical plans composing mandalas were explained through this text. While Boner got appreciation for the work, there were also some dissents about the dating of the original work, stating that it dates too later a period and this included all the popular motifs and icons.

    Fabri, C L (1974, History of the Art of Orissa) – Fabri tries to explain why on the scene, these Odishan temples appear as a complete masterpiece and therefore there must has been some significance beginning. He suggests that it was the Buddhist architecture prevalent in Odisha in early days which set upon the stage for the Hindu style to be so perfect. He writes, “further excavation will, without a shadow of doubt, support the contention that Hindu temple architecture had burst into perfection so rapidly, precisely because the ground had been so well prepared for it by Buddhist monastic and ecclesiastic architecture”.

    Lal, Kanwar (1976, Temples and Sculpture of Bhubaneswar) – Lal describes many temples however his study did not bring any new theme as well as remained inadequate in its coverage across the city.

    Biswarup Das (1978 – The Bhaumakaras, the Buddhist Kings of Orissa and their Times) – As the title suggests, the book was centered around the Bhaumakara dynasty, their period, region, kings, chronology and political history. Not much is discussed on art and architecture however I have included this work here as history of Bhaumakaras is very important to understand when we start working on the chronology of various temples.

    Dehejia, Vidya (1979, Early Stone Temples of Orissa) – Dehejia covers temples falling in the range of 600-1000 CE. She classified these into three categories, Formative (600-750 CE), Transitional (700-850 CE) and Culminated (850-950 CE). Apart from the discussion on these various temples, there was nothing new not covered in the past studies.

    Das, D R (1982, Temples of Orissa) – Das is credited to go beyond the common circuit of Orissan temples, Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark. His study included temples at Baidyanath, Charda, Ranipur-Jharial and Paikanal. This provides a wider range of Orissan style.

    B K Rath (1983 – Cultural History of Orissa) – to be updated

    H C Das (1985 – Cultural Development in Orissa) – to be updated

    Donaldson, T E (1985, Hindu Temple Art of Orissa in three volumes) – This monumental and ambitious work of Donaldson is composed in three volumes with 4,500 illustrations, covering almost every surviving temple and loose sculptures dating from sixth to fifteenth century CE. It set a milestone in the study of temple art and architecture. Such a work has not been attempted earlier for Odishan art. Donaldson covers all the temples of the region, in whichever state preservation those be, as well as most of the loose sculptures scattered around. It seems that nothing missed from his scrutiny. Donaldson forms an opinion that the Odishan art is influenced from foreign art, specially that of at Aihole and Buddhist.

    Smith, Walter (1994, Muktesvara Temple in Bhubaneswar) – This monologue on the Muktesvar temple is one of the comprehensive study on that temple. Smith also touched upon the Odishan architecture in general. In his first chapter, Review of the Literature, Smith enumerates all important previous attempts in describing Odishan temples and setting up their relative chronology. In his next chapter, Historical and Religious Background, he touches upon the various dynasties which ruled in and around Bhubaneswar region. In his last chapter, he tries to place the Mukesvara temple in the development of the Odishan temple and thus discusses other important temples in this direction.

    Kalia, Ravi (1994, Bhubaneswar : From a Temple Town to a Capital City) – to be updated

    Parida, A N (1999 – Early Temples of Orissa) – to be updated

    Mohanty & Basa (2000, Archaeology of Orissa) – to be updated


    Papanasini Tank and temples, Bhubaneshwar William Henry Cornish in 1892 | British Library

    Chauley, G C (2004, Monumental Heritage of Orissa) – to be updated

    Behera, K S (2008, The Lingaraja Temple of Bhubaneswar – Art and Cultural Legacy) – This monologue is dedicated to the greatest temple of Bhubaneswar, the Lingaraja Temple. While discussing about this temple, its sculptures and cult images, subsidiary shrines and architectural features, Behera also touches upon the Odishan temple architecture in general. His first chapter is dedicated to brief religious, cultural and political history of Bhubaneswar.

    Pradhan , S (2010, Orissan: History, Culture and Archaeology) – to be updated

    Das, H C (2012, Buddhist Art of Orissa) – to be updated

    Khamari, Subhash (2012, Archaeology of Early Orissan Temple) – to be updated


    1. Behera, K S (2008). The Lingaraja Temple of Bhubaneswar – Art and Cultural Legacy. Aryan Books International. New Delhi. ISBN 9788173053405.
    2. Chauley, G C (2004). Monumental Heritage of Orissa. ISBN 8185638195
    3. Das, H C (2012). Buddhist Art of Orissa. ISBN 9788177022698
    4. Das, D R (1982). Temples of Orissa: The Study of a Sub-style. Agam Kala Prakashan. New Delhi.
    5. Fergusson, James (1876). History of Indian and Eastern Architecture. John Murray. London.
    6. Fergusson & Burgess (1910). History of Indian and Eastern Architecture vol II. John Murray. London.
    7. Goswami, A (1950). Designs from Orissan Temples. Thacker’s Press and Directories Ltd. Kolkata.
    8. Hunter, W W (1872). Orissa, in two volumes. Smith, Elder & Co. London.
    9. Kalia, Ravi (1994). Bhubaneswar : From a Temple Town to a Capital City. Southern Illinois University Press. ISBN 0809318768.
    10. Khamari, Subhash (2012). Archaeology of Early Orissan Temple. ISBN 9788177022810
    11. Mohanty & Basa (2000). Archaeology of Orissa. ISBN 8177020110
    12. Paida, A N (1999). Early Temples of Orissa. Commonwealth Publishers. New Delhi. ISBN 8171695191
    13. Pradhan , S (2010). Orissan: History, Culture and Archaeology. ISBN 8124601178
    14. Rajendralala Mitra (1875). The Antiquities of Orissa. Baptist Mission Press. Calcutta.
    15. Smith, Walter (1994). Muktesvara Temple in Bhubaneswar. Motilal Banarasidass. New Delhi. ISBN 8120807936
    16. Stirling, Andrew (1825). An Account, geographical, Statistical and Historical of Orissa Proper, or Cuttack published in Asiatic Researches vol XV
    17. Ward, William (1815). A View of the History, Literature, and Religion of the Hindoos. The Mission Press. Serampore.