Rajarani – unfinished mystery of Hindu architecture

Rajarani Temple1This elegant, but unfinished temple of yellow sandstone was probably never used, because inside the god wasn’t set. It has a rather curious name. Rajarani means “king and queen”, so often mistakenly believed that it was named in honor of the king, the patron and his wife. In fact, the name refers to the stone used in its construction (in the local dialect of Orissa “rajrania” is the name of sandstone).

Rajarani Temple4Late period of Osiris temple was dedicated to the god of Vishnu and was built in the 12th century. Rajarani demonstrated the skill in the church building shown by the local architects 400 years ago. Indeed, scientists think that Rajarani is related more to the category of the temples of Khajuraho, than to the group of Osiris temples.

Rajarani Temple3The temple is decorated with highly artistic carved sculptures, underlining the extraordinary grace of the human body. Traditional carved in stone eight gods are guarding the main rooms in the temple, there are two on each side. They are surrounded by images of minor gods, goddesses, priests and animals and all of them are really pleasing to the eye. Beautifully carved bodies are slimmer and more proportionate than the usual ones, and it seems that they are moving directly and spontaneously, but not traditionally planned and deliberately, in a symbolic manner, which is typical for the Indian gods.

Unusual detail of Rajarani temple is a 55 feet spiral tower. This is actually not a homogeneous structure, but rather it resembles many small towers (vimanas), gathered together like asylum, praying to see God. They are joined together to form a single vertical circular monolith set on a square base. The visitors don’t have any feelings of heaviness and oppression, because an elegant stone carving around each little spire gives the impression of lightness.

Rajarani Temple2Complex and fine filigree even today distinguishes the work of Oriss artisans. They create fine silver jewelry and this art probably rooted in elegant lace composition of Rajarani temple and other contemporary churches. All parts of the structure, which are situated above the foundation, are completely covered with carvings, beginning from the simple base and up to the richly decorated columns, which show armed gods and goddesses richly dressed. They are arranged against the stone tracery patterns of various elements of nature – trees, leaves, flowers, geese, peacocks, elephants, lily and other flowers, and even children.

On the walls of the unfinished lobby with its figures of male and female snake deities (naga-s and nagini-s) there are some already started but only or just only drawn drafts and unfinished pictures left by artisans (shilpin) for further work on them and waiting to be completed. What happened to these artisans? Why did Rajarani temple remain unfinished and unconsecrated? This is another mystery in the mysterious stories of Hindu architecture.