Chausath Yogini Temple also called 64 Jogini Temple is an ancient Indian Temple located in the Hirapur locality of the state of Odisha, it is situated at a distance of about 20 km from that capital city of Bhubaneswar.
The temple is said to be built around the 9th century by a queen named Hiradevi of Bramha dynasty. The town of Hirapur is said to be named after the queen Hiradevi.
Chausath meaning 64 and yogini is someone (a woman) who practices yoga, Yogini symbolize divine energy that exists everywhere and in everyone. Interestingly Yoginis differed from Yogis in contrasting ways. While Yogi’s withdrew from life, Yogini embraced it. Where Yogis seek immortality Yoginis were not scared of mortality. Where Yogi’s believe in withholding desires, Yogini set them free. The temple is said to be a celebration of fertility and sensuality in architectural style.
The question of these goddesses being 64 is answered by Hindu mythology by linking it with 64 Kala of performing arts.
Apart from other things this temple speaks of less talked about a socio-cultural phase of ancient India. Those were the time of women being the head that is the concept of a matriarchal society.
In ancient times India had powerful female rulers ruling successfully over various regions. Unlike the usual practice of Male becoming the King and then his son and so on. The much older practice was female rulers i.e. queen running the empire, taking decisions. And the next ruler of the kingdom was queen’s daughter and so on.
This concept of such a strong matriarchal society could not be processed by the British and they mistook these figurines of dancers to be of prostitutes.
It is a beautiful sandstone temple built in a circular pattern. The walls of the temple are hollow from inside and several idols of Goddesses placed in there.
These hollow sections of the wall house 56 black granite idols, the central statue being of the Goddess Kali standing on a human head which is said to signifying the victory of heart over mind.
The central altar of the temple called the Chandi Mandapa houses the rest of 8 idols of the Goddess. Some believed that the Chandi Mandapa once housed a statue of Maha Bhairava. As of today, the temple chamber houses a Shiva Lingam.
Architecture of Chausath Yogini Temple:
The architectural style of the Chausath Yogini temple is quite different from others. It is built in the hypaethral style that is there is no roof on the main shrine. It was a tantric temple and carried tantric prayer procedures including worship the five elements of nature namely ether, sky, fire, earth, and water.
The circumference of this circular shrine is about 27.4 meters and it has a height of about 2.4 m. The presiding deity of the shrine is called Mahamaya, the ten-armed idols of Mahamaya is it largest among all the idols of the shrine.
Legends and rediscovery of the temple:
The temple has a famous legend associated with it. As per the legend, Goddess Durga took the avatar of 64 demi-goddesses to defeat a demon. After defeating the demon the 64 Joginis requested Durga Maa to commemorate them in one temple structure. Hence this structure was formed.
The idols of Joginis represent the victory of Shakti. In these idols, Joginis are seen standing on human head, animal, and demon reflecting of the feminine power of the Almighty. The images are seen expressing various emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger, pleasure, rage, etc.
This ancient temple remained ignored, neglected, and forgotten for centuries. It was discovered after centuries of abandonment by Kedarnath Mahapatra in 1953. You can see temples like this one in Ranipur Jharial, Balangir, Odisha, and various other sites in India. Unfortunately, these temples were abandoned long ago for unknown reasons. Today, this ancient temple is taken care of by the Archaeological Survey of India.
The Chausath Yogini temple of Hirapur Odisha is a beautiful example of ancient art and culture. Beautiful architecture, divine energy, and marvelously carved idols are a sight to behold. One should definitely visit this temple at least once in their lifetime. The beauty and serenity of this place will surely leave you mesmerized.
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