Mukteshwar temple, one of the most prominent temples of Bhubaneswar, has been constructed in the style that is quite similar to the one used in the Kalinga School of Temple Architecture. Built in the 10th century, the temple belongs to the Somavamshi Dynasty and is believed to be sculpted by Yayati I. Mukteshvara Temple also emerged as a popular religious tourist attraction in Odisha for its architecture which symbolizes the innovation in Kalinga style of architecture.
The Mukteshvara Temple is found to be the earliest work from the Somavamshi period. Most scholars believe the temple is the successor to Parashurameshvara Temple and built earlier to the Brahmeswara Temple. Mukteshvara means “Lord of Freedom”. The temple is dedicated to Hindu God Shiva.There are a number of sculptures of skeletal ascetics in teaching or meditation poses. The outer face of the compound wall has niches of Hindu deities like Saraswathi, Ganesha and Lakulisha, he is the fifth century founder of the Pashupata sect of tantric Shaivism.
The presence of a torana, which is not part of any other temple in the region, makes this temple unique and some of the representations indicate the builders were starters of a new culture. It is said that the temple was built during 966 CE and Somavamshi king Yayati I built the temple.
The torana or the elaborately decorated arch is the main feature of this temple. It reflects heavy influences from Buddhist architecture. The archway or torana has exquisite carvings of ornaments, beautiful women and other such intricate designs.
The combination of vertical and horizontal lines is skillfully arranged so as to give dignity of buildings of moderate height. The gateway has sculptures that range from elaborate scrolls to pleasant female forms and figures of monkeys and peacocks.The front and back of the arch are similar in design.
The temple faces west and is constructed in a lower basement amidst a group of temples. The pyramidal roof to the jagamohana present in the temple was the first of its kind over the conventional two tier structure. The temple is small compared to other larger temples in Bhubaneswar. The temple is enclosed within an octagonal compound wall with elaborate carvings on it.
It is believed that the experiment of newer pattern in the temple showed a mature phase compared to its predecessors and culminated the beginning of replication of similar pattern in the later temples in the city. The temple has a porch, called torana, which acts as the gateway to the octagonal compound. The temple has two structures namely, the vimana (structure above the sanctum) and a mukhasala, the leading hall, both of which are built on a raised platform.
The Vimana is square in plan and is built in a raised platform with pilasters in each facade. The shikara is small compared to other temples,it has four Natarajas on and four kirthimukhas on the four faces. The top portion of the shikara has the kalasa. The shikara is 10.5 metres (34 ft) tall, with every inch sculpted with decorative patterns, architectural patterns and sculpted figures.
Mukteswara Temple is a site of Indian Heritage and this shrine attracts many devotees & tourists round the year.