The temple of Markandeswara is one of the important Shaiva shrines of Puri. The name Markandeswara is connected with the name of Sage Markandeya, a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva worshipped by Sage Markandeya is called 'Markandeswara'. God saved Markandeya from a severe danger and on that spot, Markandeya remained on meditation for a long time and founded Markandeswara temple. Markandeswar temple is also known as Markandesvara Temple, Markandeya Shiva Temple and Markandeswara Mahadeva Temple. The presiding deity is Mrityunjay Shiva Linga. The Shiva Linga is in cracked condition due to sudden appearance of Lord Shiva from the Linga to save his devotee Markandeya from Yama’s attack. The Markandeswar Shiva Temple is situated in the Markandeswar street by the side of the Markandeswar tank, to the north of the Jagannath Temple. This place can be approached on the right side of Markandeswar road leading from Markandeswar chowk to Prui-Brahmagiri road. The exact geographical location of this temple is LONGITUDE 85049'94''E and LATITUDE 19048'62''N.
As per Hindu scriptures, Lord Jagannath directed Lord Sudarshana to dig a pond for Sage Markandeya here. That pond was named after Sage Markandeya and became the Adyatirtha among the Panchatirthas. Markandeya tank is the first and one of the Panchatirthas (five sacred bathing places) of Puri. The other four tirthas are Swetaganga tank, Rohini Kunda, Idradyumna tank and Mahodadhi (Ocean). Markandeya tank is an open structure and it enclosed within a stone wall made of dressed laterite blocks. The tank is rectangular is shape and 8.50 meters below the present road level. Its sides measure 350 feet on the northern side, 508 feet on the eastern side, 385 feet on the southern side and 542 feet on the western side. Bathing ghats are provided for the tourists in southern side of the tank. The tank is presently used for rituals as well as for normal bathing. Rituals like Pinda Dana, Mundan Kriya etc. are observed on the steps of the tank. The tank is fed by a natural spring from under ground. The excess and waste water is discharged through an outlet channel in the north eastern wall. As a result the water level of the tank remains constant throughout the year. The exact geographical location of this tank is LONGITUDE 85048'94''E LATITUDE 19048'62''N.
There are four prominent Ashrams or hermitages in Puri connected with Puri Jagannath Temple rituals and Markandeya Ashram is one among them. The other three Ashrams are Bhrigu Ashram , Angira Ashram and Kandu Ashram .
Few ancient stone inscriptions were found at Markandeshwar Temple, are of great interest to historians. These stone inscriptions pertaining to the Ganga dynasty. Both Markandeswar temple and Markandeswar tank can be dated back to the 12th century AD.
Structure and Architecture
Markandeswara temple belongs to Tri-ratha class consists three structures such as the Vimana, Jagamohana and Natamandapa. The temple is facing towards east and is built in both sand stones and laterite stones. The temple is about 20 feet below the present road level and the height of the temple is about 60 feet from the ground level. There are images of Lord Ganesha andLord Kartikeya in the outer parts of Vimana. Outside wall of the main temple also contains a rare image of cat-faced Hanuman or Marjar Hanuman.
The Jagamohan of the temple is a Pidha Deula and its height is about 40 feet from the ground level of the premises. The Jagamohan is occupied by a small stone slab which contains the legendary images of Rishi Markandeya, Mrityunjaya Shiva and Lord Yama. On the southern side of Jagamohana there is a Roshaghara (Kitchen) and a well in front of the kitchen.
There are two small temples in the premises known as Panchapandava temple and temple of Baidyanatha and Rameswara. Goddess Parvati is housed in a small temple. In front of the main entrance of the temple, there is a platform called Gamha Vedi. lt is connected with festive occasions of Gamha Purnima and Balabhadra Janma. Images of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Goddess Subhadra and other deities are worshipped in a separate temple. In front of this temple there is the Kaliyadalana Mandapa or Boiti Deula. It's upper part is designed as a boita (boat) which is a rare structure in Puri. By the side of Kaliyadalana Mandapa there is a raised platform known as Dolamandapa. There is a small temple of Lord Dhableswara is in front of the Dolamandapa.
Previously at the northern side of the tank there are seven stone images, each four feet high, kept over a platform representing the Sapta Matrukas or seven sacred mothers. The seven mothers are Brahmi or Brahmani, Maheswari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Indrani and Chamunda. Each mother except Chamunda has her child in her lap. These Seven Mothers are also accompanied by images of Lord Ganesha and Lord Virabhadra. We visited this temple on 2nd February 2010 and found that the temple administration is creating a new temple for the Sapta Matrukas and all these images have already been shifted inside the under construction temple.
As stated in Narasingha Purana, Markandeya or Markanda was the son of Mrukandu and Manaswini. Mrukandu did not have sons for a long time, so he performed penance for several years to please Lord Shiva to get a son. Lord Shiva granted a son who would live up to 16 years. Even from childhood Markandeya knew all the Shastras and was liked by one and all. But the parents were sad and whenever they looked at their son a gloom spread over their face. The secret of the short span of life was hidden from Markandeya. The 16th year was fast approaching and one day the parents were unable to control their grief and wept before him. Markandeya asked the reason why they wept, Father Mrukandu with tears told him the story. From that day onwards Markandeya started performing penance.
The day of his death came, and he sat before Shiva Linga in deep meditation. The messengers of Lord Yama, the God of death, could not approach Markandeya for the radiation from him was too hot for them. They were unable to take away the life of Markandeya. Finally, Lord Yama himself came to fetch him. Markandeya started crying loudly for help and embraced the Shiva Linga before him. Yama threw his rope in a loop, and it went circled round the Shiva Linga also. Angry Shiva rose from the Shiva Linga and killed Yama to save the Markandeya. From that day onwards, Lord Shiva got the names 'Mrityunjaya'. After that at the request of other Deities, Lord Shiva gave back life to Yama on the condition that the young Markandeya would live forever, and he made Markandeya to be of 16 years for ever.
The temple is supposed to be the place where the young Markandeya worshipped Shiva in order to win over his destiny. This is where Shiva fought with Yama and blessed Markandeya.
Markandeswara 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. Markandeswara Temple is associated with Arjuna, 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'. Markandeswara is one among them. The others are Jameswara, Nilakantheswara, Bilweswara, Kapalamochana, Bateswara, Ishaneswara and Pataleswara.
Festivals and Rituals
Maha Shivaratri in the month of Phalguna and the marriage ceremony on the eve of Sheetala Shasthi in the month of Jyestha are celebrated here with pomp and fervour. The festival of Ashokashtami is observed on the 8th day of bright fortnight of Chaitra in the temple with great enthusiasm. Lord Markandeswar participates in Chandan Yatra at Narendra Tank in the month of Baisakha along with Yameswara, Lokanatha, Kapalmochan, Nilakantha, Rama and Krishna in a colourful boat.
Lord Sudarshana from Jagannath Temple arrives at Gamha Bedi on the full moon day of Sravana to perform birth rites of Lord Balabhadra. Kaliyadalana festival is observed in the month of Bhadraba. On this occasion Madanamohana, Rama and Krishna arrive at Kaliyadalan Mandap from Jagannath Temple. Besides these festivals, other special rituals are also performed in this temple in connection with the rituals in Sri Jagannath Temple on five occasions namely Ashrama Bije, Kamada Ekadashi, Shravana Shukla Navami, Rishi Panchami and Margasira Shukla Chaturdashi.
Sapta Matruka Temple Photo Gallary