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Manikpatna or Bhabakundalesvara Temple History

Bhabakundalesvara temple is located at Manikapatna in Odisha. Shiva is the main diety in this temple. Manikapatna, a small village situated approx 44 km from Puri, holds a special place near the enchanting Chilka Lake. This village is renowned for its archaeological significance and boasts a magnificent temple adorned with exquisite architecture.

Perched on a small hill, the village offers an incomparable view of the sea and the lake. This small fishing village has been remarkably well preserved, the narrow winding streets zigzagging between thatched and terracotta houses, whose stone facades of warm color are often covered with blooming flowers.

This intriguing village has plenty of history. It is intricately linked to the folklore and legends of Lord Jagannath at Puri.  The village is centered on two unique structures, a temple and a mosque, both having a very interesting history. The Bhabhakundeleswar Temple and the Manikapatna Mosque dominate the village and are a part of every resident’s life.

The word ‘Manikapatna’ is a combination of two words ‘Manika’ and ‘Patana’; ‘Manika’, is the name of a milkmaid, and ‘Patana’ means ‘village’. The name originates from the legend of Dahikhia, in which the milkmaid Manika supposedly sold yogurt to Lord Jagannath and Lord Balabhadra.

One of the most popular stories relating to Lord Jagannath is that of Kanchi Avijana (journey to Kanchi). Purushottam Dev of the Ganga Dynasty, while he was the reigning king of Puri, undertook an expedition to South India and reached the kingdom of Kanchi. While at the palace of the King of Kanchi, he was enamored by the beauty of Princess Padmavati. The princess reciprocated the king’s love and both the king and the queen too agreed to the marriage.

Manikapatna Temple

Purushottam Dev returned home and soon the King of Kanchi sent his minister to Puri with a formal proposal. Purushottam Dev asked the Kanchi minister and the entourage to stay back for the soon-to-be-held annual Rath Yatra. The Minister was quite happy and stayed back.

On RathYatra day, thousands of people gathered outside the palace. The minister of Kanchi saw Purushottam Dev standing in front of the chariot with a broom in his hand. He was perturbed and did not understand the cherrapahara ceremony where the king swept the three chariots.

The Kanchi minister was very annoyed with this act of the king and returned to Kanchi. He informed the Kanchi king about what he had seen, and raised questions about giving the hand of the princess to a king who takes on the role of a lowly sweeper. The King of Kanchi too, without understanding the significance and rituals of the cherrapahara, agreed with the minister’s view and decided against the marriage. He called for a big Swayamvar where the princess would choose her suitable consort. Invites were sent far and wide, and obviously, Purushottam Dev, the King of Puri was ignored.

The jilted Purushottam Dev felt insulted and marched his army on a campaign to Kanchi. Both Lord Jagannath and Lord Balabhadra, disguised as soldiers, mounted on white and black horses, proceeded towards Kanchi to help their favorite devotee in the war. On the way, at the village of Dahikhia, they met Manika, a milkmaid who offered them some curd. The two lords relished the curd and in exchange, they gave her a ruby ring and asked her to give it to the King of Puri when he returned from Kanchi.

When the victorious Purushottam Dev was returning from Kanchi with the spoils of war, he stopped at Dahikhia. Manika showed him the ring. The wise king understood the divine play of the Gods and gifted the entire village; which henceforth got the name of Manikapatna. A small temple that has the depiction of the mounted soldier and the milkmaid has been made in Dahikhia. Even today, the place is famous for its curd which is set in traditional bamboo baskets and does not turn sour for days.

The Bhabhakundeleswar temple, situated on a sand dune at the entrance of the village is a unique two-chambered temple with rich carvings that are full of sculptural details. The temple lies in a thick grove, which includes cashew, palm and banyan trees. The east-facing Shiva temple has a Shivaling made of black chlorite stone. The lower portion of the temple, below the Pabhaga is buried in the sand. Local legends about the temple shifting its position can be attributed to the fact that it is built on a sand dune that gains and loses height frequently.

The temple is dated around the 13th century C.E. and is of the typical Odishan school of temple architecture.

The old mosque on the high point of the hillock has an interesting history. The locals say that it was built by an Arabian ship captain whose ship had floundered near the village. All the crewmen were saved and most of the cargo too had been brought ashore. The Arab captain had stayed back and built a small mosque in gratitude of his escape from death. The high point of the small mosque is the jaw bones of a whale which form the entrance to the sanctum. The jaw bones have been painted over the years but are still clearly discernible. There is a small plaque in which the origin of the mosque is mentioned in Arabic.

The locals believe that if anything is lost, be it keys, ornaments, cattle, money and so on, an offering at the mosque ensures a quick recovery. Of this miraculous power, the mosque draws believers even from distant villages.

Excavations carried on by archaeologists have unearthed many remains which are indicative of the rich maritime traditions of the place. Rich finds of Chinese ceramics, Roman pottery and coins tell about the trading activity with South-East Asia.

There are many villages that dot the shores of Chilka Lake, but Manikapatna, with its open waters, breathtaking seaside scenery, and good-natured locals makes it the most relaxing place for visitors.

Manikpatna or Bhabakundalesvara Temple History

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