A recent visit to 13th century Chateshwara Shiva temple of Kisinapur and 15th century Jagannath Temple of Gopinathpur Sasan village near Cuttack,Odisha

It was a Friday and I was free with not much work around. Since I was in hometown, I wanted to visit some local heritage sites which would be relatively near to Bhubaneswar. After taking suggestions from people in social media(probably the best medium to ask people about heritage sites and routes these days),I decided to visit two temples near Cuttack, which would be roughly an hour and a half from my home(depending on traffic).My parents and my uncle accompanied me on this trip, since they hadn’t heard of these temples.

Our first destination was the Jagannath Temple at Gopinathpur Sasan village.It has been marked as Baladeva Jiu Temple(there’s a famous temple of same name at Kendrapada) in Google Maps.Temple is at few kms distance from Paga Square of Cuttack.

The present temple is a relatively newer one and behind the temple is ruins of the original temple which is surrounded by long grasses and creepers

The entrance to the Temple

A very old Laxmi-Narsimha murti in the Temple

The original temple was built by Gopinath Mahapatra-the Brahmin general and minister of 15th century Suryavamsa ruler of Odisha-Gajapati Kapilendradeva who is one of the greatest rulers of medieval India and had ruled the entire eastern coast along with parts of South India,after having defeated the major Indian powers of that time. An inscription of Gopinath Mahapatra has been found at the temple site which has been composed by son Jagali. Gopinath Mahapatra is mentioned to have built this temple and also said to have defeated the army of Malwa Sultan and Bengal Sultan,along with other kingdoms.

A not so well maintained inscription of Gopinath Mahapatra.Script-Odia and Language-Sanskrit

The main deities of the temple are Jagannath,Balabhadra and Subhadra.A Garuda murti is infront of it.

My father had a small chat with the 88 year old priest Mr. Panda(couldnt catch his first name).His family has been managing the temple since long. He had a very sad personal story to tell.Born in the 30s,he lost his parents when he was 3 .He couldn’t attend school and had to take up the priest job after few years .He resides with his brother and nephew in the Gopinathpur village and they are unwell. I guess I heard that he lost his sons and wife few years back.

I went on to visit the ruins of the original temple along with my uncle.The priest said that the oral history goes that the Afghan general Kalapahada destroyed the temple during the Afghan conquest of Odisha in 1568.However I would take that with a pinch of salt,given that every damn disfigurement in sculptures of temples or destruction of a temple in a random alley of Odisha is being blamed on Kalapahad(not denying that the Afghan army of 1568 wasn’t into a temple razing mission).Given the location of the temple I guess it could have been either by the forces of Mughal general Khan-i-Dauran during the period of Aurangzeb [Gajapati Mukundadeva of Khordha(not to be confused with Telenga Mukunda/Gajapati Mukunda Harichandan of Chalukya dynasty) and his feudatories had rebelled against Mughals in mid 1600s],who had come to suppress a rebellion or could be during the tenure of bigoted 18th century Mughal Naib Nazim of Cuttack-Taqi Khan(given his continuous conflicts with Gajapati Ramachandadeva-II of Khordha -the Surendra Mohanty’s novel Nilasaila fame one ).To be fair, there’s no proper record of what caused the destruction

Although I am quite well read about temple destructions in India, but the ruins here made me quite emotional. There was something in here which I cant describe.

A beautifully sculpted Kalash

Sculptures of different lion motifs around the boundary

As I took the last photo,a honey bee stung me around 3 times and I had to rush out of that place(have never been stung by a bee before)After sprinking water on the stung portions,I left for my next destination. There are many ruined stuff scattered around the temple.The site needs urgent care by ASI and other concerned heritage preservation orgs. The Gopinathpur village community needs to step up for preservation

Chateshwara Shiva Temple of Kisinapur is roughly 1-2 km from Gopinathpur. The Temple has been whitewashed and is very well maintained(seems to have been renovated by different rulers over centuries). The inscription in the temple says that it was built during the reign of Eastern Ganga ruler Anangabhima-III in 13th century. His Brahmin general Vishnu has been praised in the inscription for his bravery & victory in the war against Kalachuri dynasty.Such was the victory that the Kalachuri king hallucinated about Vishnu everytime. Vishnu seems to have been a good archer. Anangabhima-III was one of the few rulers who successfully defended his kingdom from Islamic rulers of Bengal. He was the first ruler in history of Odisha to dedicate his kingdom to Prabhu Jagannath and use the title of Rauta or deputy of Jagannath.

The Sasnkrit inscription in the temple written in Siddham script

Underground Shivalinga,where the water level rises till the 4th stair in rainy seasons

The main temple

The priest told me that the legend of the Temple goes that a student while going to his Chata(or village school) was lost & wasnt found even after lot of searching.The king of the region had a revelation that he was in a pond and would come out as a Swayambhu linga. The king built the Temple at this site and thus the deity came to be known as Chateshwar.The legend might seem a bit weird but this is what I was told

A pond near the Chateshwar temple

I left for home at around 1:30 pm.As I had moved few metres from the temple by my car ,I saw a banner by a political party wishing everyone a Happy Hindu New Year with the 17th century Maratha ruler Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s picture in the background.

I smiled at the irony

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