64 Yogini Temple Ranipur Jharial -Brick temple of Ranipur Jharial – Balangir Odisha
64 Yogini Temple Ranipur Jharial-Brick temple of Ranipur Jharial, Odisha Temples Located in the verdant environs of the Titilagarh sub-division in Balangir district, the twin villages of Ranipur-Jharial bear strong traces of their ancient heritage. Also known as ‘Soma Tirtha’ in scriptures, the archaeological site dates back to the 9th/10th century AD, pertaining to the reign of Somavanshi keshari kings. Saivism, Vaisnavism, Buddhism and Tantrism obviously enjoyed a great deal of influence in the region. The Hypethral temple which is one of the four remaining rare monuments of 64 Yogini shrines provides a glimpse into the religious sand occult practices from the medieval times that are still alive in Odisha’s tribal traditions and folklore. Chausathi (64) Yogini Temple Ranipur Jharial (Bolangir) – the second yogini temple in Odisha after Hirapur (BBSR)
The temple houses sandstone images of the three-faced Shiva embracing Parvati, standing at the canter of the temple encircled by 64 images of the Yogini goddesses in various positions.It is one of the four famous Yogini temples in India. The other three are located at Hirapur (near Bhubaneswar), Khajuraho and Bheraghat (near Jabalpur).
The finest specimen of a brick temple is the 20 metres high Indralath temple. It is one of the tallest brick temples of ancient India and one of the most remarkable Odisha temples.
The ancient archaeological complex is found to be situated on the ancient trade route that connected Titilagarh, ancient Taitalya Janapada referred to by Panini in fifth century B.C. with Madhya Bharat and Dakshinapatha.
The river Tong or Tong Jor, a tributary of Tel flows nearby. The Tel valley is archaeologically very rich and Ranipur-Jharial occupies a central position,being surrounded by a chain of historical sites like Narisinghnath, Maraguda, Podagarh, Asurgarh, Belkhandi, Saintala and Patnagarh all around. At present the archaeological complex is found spread on a vast flat rocky surface. The one near Ranipur may be called Ranipur complex and the other one near village Jharial may be called the Jharial temple complex.
The rock surface seems to have been exposed fully by erosion in remote antiquity. Taking advantage of the sedimentary rock deposit, the builders of the monuments, palpably have removed the stone pieces layer wise to use in the monuments. In the south-west, there is the famous Someswar Sagar locally called Jogibandh and in the north-east, we see a deep nala. Temples of varied dimension, deserted and forlorn, stand in isolated splendour on the rocky outcrop, giving an impression of divine solemnity.
The twin villages of Ranipur – Jharial are a must visit on your tour to Bolangir for the temples that are of historical and archeological significance. The most prominent of all the temples set on a rock outcrop is the Hypaethral Temple. One of the four remaining Hypaethral Temples in Odisha is dedicated to 64 goddesses that in turn served Goddess Kali. The circular temple has 64 cells that once housed the sculptures of the 64 yoginis or goddesses. The Hypothetical temple, also known as the 64 Yogini Shrine, and the adjoining Vishnu Temples are a must visit on your tour to Bolangir.
The History of 64 Yogini Temple – Ranipur Jharial :-
From the epigraph inscribed on the lintel of the Someswar temple, we know that one Saiva Archarya“Gagana Siva” was the donor and in the inscription the site has been described as Soma tirtha, which finds mention in the Puranas of 3rd/4th century A.D. Thus it is evident that since 3rd/4th century Ranipur-Jharial has assumed the reputation of a Saiva Tirtha. More over, Saivism was popular in ancient Kosala and Kantara region since the days of the Nalas who ruled over this region from the middle of the fourth century A.D.
This is corroborated by the recent excavation at Maraguda in Nawapara district where a Saiva Vihar of circa 4th/5th century A.D. has been excavated. Archaeological probe of Maraguda valley excavations have indicated that many Saiva Vihars had been destroyed ruthlessly by the invaders, probably the Vakatakas or the Sarabhapuriyas, who were staunch Vaisnavites.
After the destruction of the Maraguda Saiva Vihar, the Saivacharyas seemed to have proceeded to the north westernly direction and established the Saiva establishment at the ancient Somatirtha referred to in the Puranas. The kernel of Tantricism that originated at Maraguda had fuller efflorescence at Ranipur-Jharial. The Tantric Vajrayana and Sahajayana which Indrabhuti and Laxmikara of ancient Sambala (modern Sambalpur) propounded, were very much popular in this region. However, Ranipur-Jharial witnessed great religious development during the time of the Somavansis who ruled over this tract in 8th/ 9th century A.D. Most of the existing monuments can be assigned to this period. When exactly, this place was deserted is difficult to say due to want of evidence.
The Muslim invasion in the 15th century might be a factor for its downfall. We believe systematic exploration and excavations in this locality will throw new light on the history and culture of this place. From surface observation, it appears that the site might have still greater remote antiquity. We noticed here foot print emblem, the reminiscent of early Buddhist worship of anionic diction. Thus prior to 3rd century A.D. probably Ranipur-Jharial had Buddhist association. (Courtesy Mr.Patel )
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