To the south-western direction of the Jagannath Temple there is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is known as Kapalamochana Temple. The temple is located on the left side of Gandua Chaura Chowk in Manikarnika Street. From the Dakhina Dwara (south gate/horse Gate) of the Jagannath Temple the road which leads to the Lokanath Temple, on the way there comes Manikarnika Tirtha. Here one can see the Kapalamochana Shiva Temple. There is a sacred well found in this premises which is known as 'Manikarnika'. From the architectural point of view the temple is not so important but from the religious point of view, it is one of the important Shiva shrines of Puri. Devotees come to visit Lord Jagannatha temple, also visit the Kapala mochana temple.
Manikarnika Thirtha in Kapalamochana Temple
Manikarnika thirtha is in Kapalamochana temple premises. One who does Snana, Tarpana, mantra prokshana and darshan of kapalamochana gets Sayujya Mukti and blessings of Lord Mahadeva. That street is called Manikarnika Sahi where sevayat of Srimandir resides. It is created from the sudarshan Chakra of Bhagwan Vishnu. There are three types of Snana - Mantra Snana, Pratyaksha Snana and Thirtha Snana. By doing Thirtha Snana, all the three lokas pitruloka, Devaloka, Rishiloka are satisfied. This thirtha is called Manikarnika because one of the story says when Shiva Parvati were together, mani from Shiva and karnika (earring) from Parvati fell in this place.
Structure and Architecture
This temple is facing towards east. The temple is Pancharatha on plan and Panchangabada in elevation. Presiding Deity is called as Kapala Mochana Mahadeva. He is housed in the sanctum in the form of Shiva Lingam within a circular yonipitha. The Temple is situated 6.60 meters below the present road level. The Sanctum follows rekha deula style and Jagamohana follows pidha deula style. Inside the jagamohana of the temple there is a Dasa Bhuja (ten-armed) idol of Goddess Shyamakali. There is image of Lord Kartikeya and a four-armed female figure inside the jagamohana.
An ancient image of Lord Ganesha made of sandstone enshrined in a separate shrine in the northern side of the temple wall. The image is without the mount mouse, which speaks of the antiquity of the image. The image of Lord Narasimha is also carved on the temple wall.
Kapala Mochana Mahadeva
Initially Lord Brahma had five heads. Lord Shiva pulled one of those head, and the Kapala (Skull of the head of Brahma) remained attached to Lord Shiva's hand, thus he committed the sin of killing a Brahmin (Brahma Hatya Dosha). He could not get rid of it and went everywhere but this sin followed him. Finally, when Lord Shiva was passing through Puri, suddenly the Kapala fell from his hand by the power of Puri Dham and Lord Jagannath and His sin got absolved. Hence, Lord Shiva came to be called as Kapala Mochana Mahadeva.
Kapalamochana Temple is one of the Pancha Pandava temple of Puri. As per the legend, Pancha Pandavas (Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva) at the period of exile in disguise for one year, visited this holy place and stayed one night in Puri. Here they worshipped Lord Vishnu for the safety of their journey. As a symbol of their visit, five Shiva temples were built at Puri to memorise their stay at this holy place. These famous five Shiva temples are Lokanatha, Jameswara, Kapalamochana, Markandeswara and Nilakantheswara together they are known as Pancha Pandavas or the five brothers. Kapalamochana Temple is associated with Nakula, one of the brothers among the Pancha Pandavas.
As per Skanda Purana Purusottama Mahatmya, Puri is called as Shankha Kshetra as it is Conch shaped. Puri Jagannath Temple stands at the centre. It is surrounded and protected by eight guardian Sambhus called 'Asta Shambhus'. Kapalamochana is one among them. The others are Jameswara, Nilakantheswara, Bilweswara, Markandeswara, Bateswara, Ishaneswara and Pataleswara.
Festivals and Rituals
Kapala Mochana Temple is associated with several festival of Jagannatha temple. Kapalamochana Mahadeva participates in the Chandana yatra festival of Lord Jagannath. This temple is also connected with Sitalasasti, Dolapurnima and Rudravisekha of Lord Jagannath Temple. Marriage ceremony, engagement and thread ceremony etc. are observed here.
Sitala Shasti festival is also known as Skanda Shasti , or Aranyaka Shasti . On this day, Lord Kapalamochana marries Goddess Baseli. After marriage ceremony, Shiva-Parvati ( bride and bridegroom) sitting on Vrushabha along with Nandi and other family members does nagara parikrama (moving around the city). On the night of Sitala Shasti, all Pancha Pandavas including Kapalamochana enters Jagannath Temple. In the Jagmohana of Goddess Lakshmi temple, a special ritual takes place called ‘ Pancha Grasa ’. In Dwapara yuga, Lord Shri Krishna along with Pancha Pandavas performed Aranyaka Shasti or Skanda Shasti Vrata in this Purushottma Kshetra (Puri). After completion of Vrata, consumed Pancha Grasa along with Pancha Pandavas. This ritual even today is being followed in Jagannath Temple.