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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

Key Star-Temple Associations

The key point in our attempt to investigate the possibility of astronomical traditions in Kalingan architecture was the identification of reference stars and corresponding sites on the ground. Three clues were hit upon fairly easily:

α-Orionis, the ageing red giant known as Rudra (Betelgeuse), is sung about vociferously in the Rig Veda, and it corresponds in many clear ways with the Parasurameswar temple in Bhubaneswar. The name of the temple means "Siva with a battle-axe" and temple artwork expresses the terrific or war-like aspect of Siva, which is easily compared with the "red-hot" star of the Orion constellation. Unusually, the temple was originally painted red and some traces of this paint remain.

β-Orionis, alias Rigel, is identified with a bow and arrow held by a hunter or warrior, in both Siddhantic and Western star-lore. Indeed, the star's Siddhantic name, Bana raja, means "king with arrow". It is the brightest star in the Orion constellation. The spire of the Lingaraj temple sports a bow and arrow (Dhanu-O-Pinaka), and is totally unique in this respect. It is also the tallest monument, reaching 180 feet.

The combined monument site of Rameswar-Laxmaneswar offers an uncanny similarity with the constellation Cassiopeia (Kasyapa). Moreover the names of the individual monuments within this site seem to bear relationships with the Siddhantic names for the constellation's component stars.

Studying the angular position of α-Orionis, α-Cassiopeia and β-Orionis in star maps and making angular comparisons (Exps.1-3), it became abundantly clear that a 1-to-1 correspondence might be feasible and worthy of further investigation.

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