Biraja Temple of Jajpur
The temple of Maa Biraja is situated on the outskirts of the townships of Jajpur. Although the image of the Mother is believed to be of around 5th century AD., the present day temple is a later addition. Some historians opine that Maa Biraja was worshipped in a flat roofed square temple for a long time before the present day structure actually replaced the older edifice. Similarly there is no unanimity among historians over the original constructor of the temple. While many believe it to have been built by the Founder of Jajpur, the great king “Jajati Keshari”, others opine it to have been built by Zamindar Choudhury Sudarshan Mohaptra of Jajpur. The architectural design of the temple again reflects features from all the main ruling dynasties of Orissa – the Bhaumkaras (9th -10th century AD), the Somvamsis (10th-11th century AD) and the Gangas (11th – 12th century AD).
The temple of Maa Biraja confirms to the distinctive Kalingan School of architecture and consists of rekha Vimana and Pidha Jagmohana. It is about 21.15 meters tall.The Vimana stands on a stone base.the Vimana is coated with lime mortar.It consists of Bada or perpendicular wall, gandi or Curvilinear Spire and the Mastaka or the Crown. The Bada clearly shows the divisions those are so prominent of the Kalingan srchitecture; the pabhaga,lower jangha,bandhana,Upper jangha and the Baranda. The gandi is divided into five projections. The mastak or the crown of the temple has all the usual components – the Beki, the amalaka, the Khpuri,the Kalasha & the Ayudha.
The Jagmohna is built in the “Pidha” order. The Pidhas are arranged in continuous succession and topped by mastaka. The jagmohan is supported by Six pillars in the interior that support its tremendous weight. The exterior wall of the temple is bereft of any decoration.
Confirming to the prevalent architectural style, the Vimana of the temple consists of different parsvdevtas . Two Ganesha images lie in the southern niche. A two armed kartikeya image seated on a peacock holding sakti in one hand and Vijapurka in the other is placed as the northern Parsvadevata. Two Ekapada Bhairavas and Chamunda are present in the western part of the temple.
The three feet Bhairava image stands on a prostrate human corpse. The hands are broken and the image is assigned to the 10th-11th century AD.
There is 2ft2inches image of a four armed Chamunda, wearing a garland of skulls and seated in Lalitasana in the temple. While two of her arms are broken, she holds karti and a trident on the other. A wolf to her right and a crocodile to her left decorate the pedestal under the corpse.
The Chandimandapa is situated on the front of the jagmohan. It has three entrances, one on to east while the other two are tp the north and south respectively. A small Shiva linga named Rudhiresvara is located on the north east corner. In the center of the Chandimandap, a five feet tall lion pillar is erected. An image of Hara-parvati and Vishnu are attached in the interior of the eastern wall. One inscribed hero stone and six armed Mahissurmardini images are restored on the left front part of the Jagmohan.
The Nabhigaya is a well just to the left of the Chandimandap. Mythological anecdotes provide that the nabhi(navel) of Maa Sati (Consort of lord Shiva fell at this place after being dismantled by the disc of Lord Vishnu. Another anecdote relates to Gaaysura, the great demon devotee of Lord Vishnu who offered his body for the performance of a great Yagna by the Lords Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. The nabhi (navel) of Gayasur is said to have rested on this place.Agin since the avel is supposed to have been stabilized by the Lord Vishnu himself by putting on his gada (mace) over it. The place Jajpur is thus also known as Gadakshetra. The presence of Nabhigaya in Jajpur makes it a place for Pitrupinda – a place where ancestors are offered oblations. It is a belief among the Hindus that one who offers pinda (offerings to departed ancestors) here, gets his twnty one generation of ancestors liberated ; attain Moksha.
An image of the Ardhanariswara lies to the outer eatern wall of the Chandimandap.
The outside northern wall of the Chandimandap, has the image of a seated Lakulisa image. The crossed leg image holding lakuta between two hands is decorated with an image of Gajalaxmi and Navgraha unto its top.
The Muktimandap lies in close proximity to the Simhadwara.
Strategically important because of the Biraja calendar that is prepared annually at this place, Dolamandap is also the spot where the festival of Dolapurnima is performed every year. This is located unto the northern side of the Biraja temple.