By Taranisen Pattnaik
Sobhaneswar is a 12th century heritage site built by King Anangabhima Deva II (1190-98) of Ganga dynasty. This artistically designed Hindu temple is situated on the left banks of sacred Prachi river (a tributary of Mahandi) at Niali block in Cuttack district, around 45 kms from Bhubaneswar. It’s a protected monument site of State Archeology Dept.
The Kalingan style detailed carvings on the laterite stones can only be felt on visiting the shrine which is inside a village, surrounded by greenery & tranquility prevailing in the premises. A remembrance inscription on the eastern wall of the jagamohana (prayer hall) records that the temple was built by a Nagavamsi king named Vaidyanatha, most likely a vassal of the Ganga rulers and he possibly renovated, repaired or maintained the temple after the fall of the Ganga rulers. The inscription looks similar to Anant Vasudev Temple’s inscription & the local priest says that messages have been inscribed in around 25 languages on the stone. The temple is believed to have a natya mandap (dance hall) at the main entrance of the compound. The meghnad pacheri (outer protective wall) looks intact & the lingam is worshipped inside the garbha griha ( sanctum sanctorum), guarded outside by Jaya-Vijaya, the two demigod door keepers (dwarpal).
The presiding deity here is Harihara, the fused representation of Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Hara). The main festivals observed here are related to Lord Shiva like Mahashivratri, but Vishnu related festivals are also celebrated here. Many of the sculptures have lost their finesse to erosion caused by wind and water logging. The renovation work is on which may take a few years due to the slow chemical process. The temporary museum inside the compound of the temple is a shed displaying loose sculptures found in & around the site. Some Vishnu idols (Madhava) have been shifted from the nearby Madhava temple to Sobhaneswar to prevent the idols from being demolished by Moghul attackers. Eight such beautiful images of Madhava and one image of Varaha are kept inside the temple compound. A mega size Nandi has beem made recently at the entrance of the main gate which is an added attraction.
How to Reach :- BBSR>Phulnakhara (take right side diversion from Cuttack NH)>Trinath Bazar> Raipur (Ctc)> Kuranga> Badajharilo>Sundargram>Bagalpur>>Adaspur Bazaar>Kantapada>Niali. The roads are perfect for cyclists to have a try. There’s a signage on the entry road to the village.