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Tarakka: Ancient Monuments of Bhubaneswar as Reflections of Stars
By Deepak Bhattacharya 1 & P. C. Naik 2
Edited by Sharif Sakr

First Tier of the Tarakka

The location of the most spectacular constellation, Orion, is relatively central in the sky, as seen today, with one half in the northern hemisphere and the other half in the southern hemisphere. It has been visible between +20° and -20° latitude roughly overhead every night for thousands of years. The prominent stars (listed in table 3) around Orion with Betelguese in the centre may be joined to form a small Tarakka, which represents the inner tier (prathama ayatana) of the wider Tarakka described above. The corresponding sites on the ground are given in the last column of the table in Figure 7. The identification of these corresponding sites is entirely based on the angular distance between the stars in the sky.

Figure 7
Fig. 7 - Table summarising First Tier of Tarakka

As mentioned above, the Parasurameswar and Lingaraj temples both also contain clear internal clues as to their relationships to the stars of Betelgeuse and Rigel respectively. Such clues can also be found for two other temples in the first tier. The star Sirius (α-CaMa), which is the brightest star in close vicinity to Orion, is called "Lubdhaka" in Siddhanta and is referred to as a consort of Rudra. On the ground the corresponding monument is that of Gouri, located almost adjacent to Parasurameswar. Gouri is the site of an annual ritual in which the presiding deity (who has been Lingaraj since the 10th Century AD) leaves his temple with a priestly entourage and travels to the Gouri temple in order to get married. It is interesting to speculate that before the 10th Century, when Siva was the presiding deity and Parasurameswar was the primary temple, the marriage ritual involved the Parasurameswar and Gouri temples, mirroring the Siddhantic connection between the stars of Rudra and Lubdhaka. Today, the head priests of these two temples are still from the same family.

Aldebaran (α-Taurus) is another star in the first tier of the Tarakka. It is quite close to Betelguese but lies in the zodiacal constellation of Taurus. The bull is theriomorphic insignia of Lord Siva. The bull is his vehicle and also his zodiacal birth sign. The temple which corresponds with α-Taurus is Gosahasreswar, which means "Lord of a thousand cattle".

Site No. 25, the Madhyameswar temple, correlates with the Adhara star (ε-CaMa). This temple was built on the site of a Buddhist pillar, which was converted into a massive Linga (stone phallus). This suggests that this particular location may have been consecrated even before the Hindu period.

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