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The Temple of Maa Samlei

The temple of Maa Samlei is of Sandhara order. It is built of a kind of stone durable as granite, cemented with lime mortar, the whole building is plastered, but over the course of time the surface has become coarse. The temple comprises of two separate structures. The square sanctum sanctorum enshrining the deity is four steps below the 10’ feet wide covered circumambulation, which is supported by 12 stone pillars. Eleven parswa devis (side Goddness), are embedded on the outer wall of the sanctum, so that the devotees can worship those deities during parikarma though the vaulted circumambulation.

The plinth is about 16’ high. Above the plinth the building is square. 21’ 7” x 21’7”. The arched roof commences after a height of 18 feet and tapers to the height of 35 feet., where the gradual diminution of the bulk has been abruptly intercepted by a hip knob over which a gold pot and spire are placed. The arch is supported by eight abutments each of which is gradually diminished in size by lateral diminution of an inch on both sides of the successive layers of which it is comprised. The whole arch is an oblong, resembling the cupper half of the eclipse with equal longitudinal furrows and elevation through out the whole surface. Commencing from each corner at the base project four subordinate buildings 11 feet square, they are so situated that the sides of square base of the temple be produced. They will touch two extremities of each of the buildings. Each of them has a domed roof, supported by six pillars. A hip knob pierced by an iron spike, adorns the top. Between these domes there are flat roofs supported by pillars, thus forming a square verandah on each side of the temple, with four domes at the corners adorned by the steeple which rises above all with gold pot spire glittering in the sunshine.

On the Nothern side the main temple, a 12’6” wide open yard separates the main temple from the 16 pillars audience Hall. Formerly the steps of the main temple were towards the North, on which the audience hall was build at a latter stage. The main spire of the temple is adorned with eight pseudo temple motifs; the larger ones face towards the four directions and the smaller motifs face towards the four corners. The temple motif facing towards the North has an arched opening which suggests the main entrance of the temple.

The Idol of Maa Samalei consists of a large block of Granite rock with an inverted, trunk like projection at the bottom. A shallow cut on her “Baraha” like face symbolizes her mouth. Traditinal Sambalpuri nose ornament of pure gold hangs down from her imaginary nose Beaten gold leave fixed on two disproportionate golden eye like depression on the face acts as substitute for her eyes in an attempt to define the face of the mother deity on a mass of self shaped rock, the devi’s idol inspires sublime sentiments of awe, fear, reverence, devotion, love and affection towards all pervading mother hood.

The deities worshipped inside the temple and in the premises of the temple are presented in the table below :