Bhubaneswar: The pleasant season of spring has arrived and with it have come festivals. One of the festivals celebrated with utmost enthusiasm and devotion in Odisha, is Mahashivratri. It falls on the Chaturdashi (14th day) of Krushna Paksha (waning moon phase) in Phalguna month as per the Hindu Lunar calendar. People flock to temples and offer milk, bel (wood apple) leaves and datura flower to the Shiv Linga.
Odisha Sun Times has compiled a list of temples in the state where you can spend your Shivratri, worshipping and praying for the good, from the destroyer of evil.
Lingaraj Temple, Bhubaneswar: One of the oldest temples in the old city of Odisha capital, the 11th century famous Lingaraj temple, as the name suggests, is the king of all lingas. Lord Shiva is worshipped as Tribhuvaneshwara i.e., the master of three worlds. Every Shivratri, the temple is jam packed with devotees who queue up since early morning for their chance to offer milk and flowers to the deity. The district administration puts in place special arrangements on the occasion of Mahashivratri.
Loknath Temple, Puri: This famous Shaivite shrine in Puri, few kilometers from Jagannath temple, is said to have been established in the 11th century. Many believe, Lord Rama established the linga here, which remains submerged in water. The linga can only be seen on Pankodhar Ekadasi, before Shivratri, which attracts devotees from different parts of the state.
Kapilash Temple, Dhenkanal: Situated in the north-eastern side of Dhenkanal, Kapilash is one of the oldest and finest temples of Odisha. The 60 feet tall tower can be reached by climbing 1352 steps or the winding roads. This abode of Shiva enlivens on Shivratri when thousands of pilgrims gather from various parts of the state. Carrying Mahanadi water in earthen pots, the devotees walk barefoot to the temples to pour it on the linga.
Gupteswar Temple, Jeypore: Located around 55 km away from Koraput’s Jeypore, this temple is surrounded by a dense forest of sal trees. The name Gupteswar means hidden god and according to legends, it remained unseen for a long time until Lord Ram discovered it while in exile in Dandakaranya forest with wife Sita. During Shivratri, this place is chock-a-block with devotees who also overstay in belief that worshipping Lord Shiva here can rid them of ailments.
Panchalingeswar Temple, Balasore: Named after the five Shiva linga enshrined inside the temple, Panchalingeswar lies atop Nilagiri hillock in Odisha’s Balasore. The Shiva linga is washed by a perennial stream of water flowing over it. People lie down on the rock parallel to this stream, lay their hands on the lingas and worship it. Mythology says, Goddess Sita enshrined these lingas.
Dhabaleswar Temple, Cuttack: Around 27 km from Cuttack, on the Mahanadi river island, this temple is famous for celebrations during Shivratri. The temple can be reached by a footbridge or ferries.
Akhandalamani Temple, Aradi: Located on the banks of Baitarani river in Odisha’s Bhadrak district, it is an ancient Saiva Pitha of Odisha. The 50 feet temple was built with stones brought from Lalitgiri hills by Kanika King Harihara Bhanja in 1830-40 AD. Jagar Mela, a huge fair is organized every year during Mahashivratri in which pilgrims from across the state come to worship Baba Akhandalamani.
Ladoo Baba Temple, Nayagarh: In the town of Sharankula in Nayagarh, this temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, worships him as Ladookeshwar. Unlike the other Hindu temples, here the rituals are conducted by the priests from different castes. People flock to this 15th-century shrine on Mahashivratri when the premises is decked up with lights and lamps.
Budharaja Temple, Sambalpur: Atop a small phallic-shaped hillock is the Budharaja Shiva Temple that can be reached by climbing 108 stairs. A Budharaja sculpture installed inside the temple is worshipped by the priests and devotees.
Harishanker Temple, Balangir: Amid nature, on the slopes of Gandhamardhan hills is the Harishankar Temple opposite Nrusinghanath Temple. Lord Shiva is worshipped here and so is Lord Vishnu. The 14th-century temple becomes a beautiful abode of Lord Shiva’s devotees on Shivratri.
There are various stories related to worshipping of Lord Shiva this day. While some believe that it was on this day that Lord Shiva got married to Parvati, for others it is the night when Shiva performs ‘tandav’. Legends also has it that Shiva drank poison to save the world this very night. The tales on significance of this festival might vary, but the devotion is the same for everyone.