Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Orissa - 64 Yogini temple, Hirapur

Located outside Bhubaneshwar away from the city’s hustle bustle, 64 Yogini temple certainly makes you curious. While driving through the not so good road you wonder who has  built this temple here. But, by the time you visit and return you will have sufficient answer for the way it is located.

Paddy fields on the way
I had heard about 64 Yogini temple and it was on top of my list when I visited Orissa. After visiting Dauligiri, place where Ashoka won Kalinga battle and took a paradigm shift to renounce the violence and to thread the the path of Buddha, I headed towards 64 Yogini temple. After a severe rocking drive on a muddy road surrounded by paddy fields, car halted at a place where I didn’t find any gopura or Shrine to recognize it as temple. 
Compound seen is the temple premises. Due to its heights it is not even seen from the road
 When I entered into the temple premises, it was about 3 in the afternoon. There was no one around.My driver brought  few boys one of them was in the attire of priest. He guided me to the temple.
In the entrance of the temple premises there is a small temple. May be recently built. Couldn’t make out the deity.. The temple has an unique architecture. Unlike Hindu temples, where god or goddess is housed in the sanctum sanctorum with heavy gopuras, this temple also called as Mahamaya temple is a circular temple without any roof. It is open to sky. If we observe, we can see the temple is built in the shape of vagina(yoni). I was not surprised, as it symbolizes mother goddess. The way child comes through the yoni of the mother, the material world comes into existence through Mahamaya. Mahamaya is the Yoni.

Circular roofless temple
I had read somewhere that there are only 4 Yogini temples in India and this is one of them. Height of the temple is barely 8 ft. Inside the temple along the inner wall  are niches where each of the Yogini’s are installed. Each one of the Yogini’s are different with distinct feature and have different animals beside them or mounted on  them. Temple is built in sandstone but Yoginis are sculpted in different stone.
Yoginis on the inner wall of the temple
The presiding deity Mahamaya is in the middle of the circumference. Priest whose family is in charge of Pooja for the temple performed pooja to Mahamaya and asked me to pay some money. When I paid he demnded for more. There was no escape. They had covered Mahamaya with red clothes and lot of vermillion covering the idol. In the center of the circular temple is a small structure- Chandi mantap which has Bhairava , a form of Shiva and Yogini.
Mahamaya, the goddess

Outer side of the circular structure houses nine deities called as Katyayinis. They serve as a guarding deities. 
Katyayini on the outer wall of the temple

As soon as we enter the temple we can easily make out this temple belongs to tantric cult. There is a big platform outside the temple which I was told was once used for sacrificing animals. That explains why temple is located outside the city , outside the village almost in a place which is not easily accessible.  Priest, continued to explain that even now, they are scared to enter the temple premises after dark as they believe Yogini’s go out for round during night and villagers hear some sounds. Not sure how true it is.
Structure in the centre
Mahamaya the goddess, has 64 attendants with different animal consort with them. As per tantric scriptures 64 is a symbolic number.In India, 64 has lot of significance. Even art forms are 64 in number. Tantra explains Yogini cult which worships Mahamaya. This temple is believed to be built during 9 century. Since, Buddhism was at its peak during that time, this temple could also have been influenced by Buddhist tantric practices. As this temple is evidently Tantric temple, it was not known to public till 1953, when someone discovered it. It could have been intentional to keep it under wrap.

It was  an experience to feel surrounded by 64 Yogini’s when I was standing inside the circular temple.

-         - 64 Yogini temple is 15-20 km away from Bhuvaneshwar. It is about 8-9 kms from Dhauligiri. Morning hours are good time to visit the temple as somebody in charge of the temple will be available.

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