Bhubaneshwar has been Odisha’s capital since the dawn of history in the subcontinent, when the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka defeated the local Kalingas in a bloody battle, and then erected a series of carved-stone edicts declaring his remorse – and subsequent conversion to Buddhism. The rock, with its lines of ancient Pali script still clearly visible, stands on the green outskirts of the city, but attracts far less attention than the ornately carved medieval temples dotted around the southern suburbs.
Intricately sculpted from top to bottom, these span the shift from Buddhism and Brahmanical Hindusim that occurred here from around the 5th and 6th centuries. Adopting modest proportions to begin with, the temples became towering behemoths in the time of the Somavanshi and Gangas, the dynasties responsible for the city’s pride and joy, the mighty Lingaraj Mandir, visited by upwards of 6,000 worshippers each day.
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