The Alamchandi Temple is situated in the Kumbharpada area of Puri. It is located on the left side of the Puri-Bhubaneswar road leading from Hospital square towards Atharanala bridge. Although the architectural features of the temple is not so significant but from the religious point of view, it is one of the notable Chandi shrines of Puri town.
The presiding Deity of the temple is Goddess Alamchandi. Here, Alam Chandi is in the form of four armed Durga image. She has been installed on the portrait body of a corpse, which lies upon the Simhasana of one foot high. The Simhasana of the presiding deity measures three feet in length and two feet in width. Goddess Alam Chandi displays knife in right upper hand, Abhaya Mudra in right lower hand, trident in left upper hand and rosary in left lower hand respectively. The simhasana of the deity is decorated with scroll works, flower devices and creeper designs. Alamchandi is one of the Asta (Eight) Chandis of Puri. The other seven Chandis are Vimala, Ramachandi, Harachandi, Baseli, Varahi, Dakshina Chandi and Jhadeswari.
Structure and Architecture
The temple of Alam Chandi is facing towards east. The temple consists of three structures such as Vimana, Jagamohana and Natamandapa. It is built in sand stones. Both the structures of Vimana and Jagamohana are the earlier and these are thickly plastered with lime mortar. But the Natamandapa of the temple is a modern structure.
The vimana of the Alam Chandi temple is about 30 feet from the surface of the temple complex. The interior part of the Vimana is filled with simha vidalas, gaja vidalas, alasa kanyas and dancing female figures with musical instruments in their hands. The central portions of the three sides of the vimana are housed with the Parsvadevata (susidiary Deities) images of Goddess Sodasi, Goddess Kalika and Goddess Matangi. Goddess Sodasi is the Parsvadevata of the southern side. The six armed Devi Sodasi has been installed on the plain pedestal. Goddess Kalika is the parsvadevata of the western side. The four armed Goddess Kalika has been installed on the plain pedestal. She is carved in standing posture on the portrait body of Lord Siva. Devi Matangi is the parsvadevata of the northern side. The four handed Devi image has been installed on the double petalled lotus pedestal. All these side deities of the temple are made of granite stone.
The jagamohana of the temple is about 20 feet from the surface of the temple complex. The jagamohana has two doorways; one on the eastern side and another in the southern side. The doorway of the southern side is completely plain. The doorjambs and the doorway lintel are not decorated with any element. Navagrahas are carved on the architrave above the doorway lintel. They are all in Padmasana posture with usual attributes in their hands. The inner walls of the jagamohana are mostly undecorated. There is only an image of Mahavira installed on the plain pedestal.
The natamandapa of the temple is a modern flat roof structure and its height is about 12 feet. The outer walls of the natamandapa are entirely undecorated. The inner walls of natamandapa are housed with Dasamahavidya figures. They are such as Kali, Tara, Bhairavi, Chinna Mastha, Dhumabati, Sodasi, Matangi, Kamala, Bhubanesvari and Bagalamukhi. All the Dasamahavidya figures are carefully housed in the niches of the inner walls of natamandapa. Most probably, these figures are installed during the construction period of the natamandapa. The gaja-simhas or lions on croachant elephants are installed on the both sides of the main doorway of the natamandapa hall. They are acting as the dvarapalas of the temple.
Festivals and Rituals
Alam Chandi temple is closely associated with the Navakalevara festival of Lord Jagannath Temple. Alam Chandi is present at the entrance to the Puri town. During Navakalevara festival, the carts loaded with the sacred Daru (wooden logs) are brought into Puri via the road in front of Alam Chandi temple. As per the tradition, after getting agnyamala (permission) from Goddess Alamchandi the Sacred wood came into Puri. It is believed that Alam Chandi is supreme to santify the logs so that no harm is done at the time of shaping them to form the figures of the three deities.
Famous festivals like Durgastami, Satapuri Amabasya, Makar Sankranti etc. are observed in this temple. Priests of Alamchandi temple carry traditional prasad to offer Lord Jagannath on the eve of Makar Sankranti. The temple of Alamchandi is connected with the Saptapuri Puja of Lord Jagannatha temple. On the day of Saptapuri Amabasya, Saptapuri is sent to this temple from the Jagannatha temple.
It is reported that in good old days Kings and other distinguished guests, stayed in Alam Chandi temple for obtaining permission to enter into Srikshetra.