Raja ani temple is an 11th century temple that is known for its bold and expressive as well as marvellous carvings all over the temple. Fondly known as “the temple of love”, this temple still stands strong in the capital city of the state Bhubaneswar and is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places to visit in “the city of temple”.
The temple is built up of sandstones and is filled with erotic carvings and hence the name. No images are carved on the inside of the temple, but the carvings of Shiv and Parvati on the outer walls have made many researchers to categorize it as a “Shaiv” temple, which means a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Historians suggest that the temple had been made in between 11th to 12th century but the exact date is yet unascertained. The researchers go on to suggest that it is from this temple that the architecture of the other temples in the country was inspired during this time; the most notable examples being the Khajuraho temples and the TotesvaraMahadeo temple in Kadawa.
It is maintained under the Archaeological Survey of India as a ticketed monument suggesting that tourist need to purchase a ticket to take a look at it.
The unique factor about the temple is that it does not consist of any deity in its main chamber which is called the “Garbha-Graha” which literally means the womb of the temple and is open to all irrespective of the God you worship. Despite this fact, I think the temple has a lot to say! When people divide each other on the basis of religion and many places of worship are strictly prohibited to other religions especially the main four orthodox “dhams” of Hindu pilgrimage, this temple invites all in the name of love! It preaches love not only through its marvellous carvings on the walls of the temple, but when you go into an empty temple, you find yourself to be standing in the place of God without a particular “god” sitting there to be worshipped.
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Hence it’s like the temple is designed in such a way which indicates so profoundly that, ‘Love has no religion and hence love itself is a religion. If you want to find God, find love and compassion within yourself and that where you will find him, within you!’ This also is the true essence of Hinduism. Hinduism seeks salvation while other religions seek a road to heaven. And Hinduism says salvation can only be attained through humanity and it only comes from within oneself.
This temple usually sits alone as people tend to take all their problems to their favourite Gods to solve and have time to pay a visit to this place of love. As strange as an “empty temple” may sound but I think it is designed in a very expressive way that shouts this message through each of its rock, but sadly the word is too deaf with its car honks.No wonder why half of the human population is thirsty for just a moment of genuine affection.