The Nrusinghanath Temple
The Nrusinghanath Temple is 164 KM from Sambalpur via Baragarh. This temple stands at the foot of the Gandhamardana Mountain whose ancient name was Parimalagiri. According to Hiuen-Tsang, the Chinese traveler, this place was a center of Buddhist scriptural learning. Located in the sacred Gandhamardan Hills, which according to legends, Hanuman carried on his shoulders from the Himalayas as described in the ancient epic Ramayana, the temple at Nrusinghanath is an important pilgrimage site.
It is also an exceedingly fascinating and beautifully located temple and is worth the journey to this rather remote spot. The present temple, located at the source of the Papaharini stream, is a 14th-century structure built on a more ancient site. The four pillars within the Jagmohana suggest that the earlier temple was built in the 9th century. The beautiful doorframes have been dated to the 11th century.
The site of the temple is unique. Stone steps wind up the hillside behind the temple, leading past a waterfall, and eventually curving under the falls to a spot where some beautiful, and very well-preserved relief sculptures are found. The climb to the carvings and return journey will take about an hour. Since shoes are not permitted on these sanctified pilgrimage steps, those with tender feet should take along a pair of heavy socks for the climb. On the opposite slope of the hill on which the temple is located, is the Harishankar Temple. Between the two temples, there is a 16 km. plateau, littered with Buddhist ruins that scholars feel may be the remains of the ancient university of Parimalagiri, referred to by the seventh-century Chinese traveler Hiuen T’sang as ‘Po-lo-mo-lo-ki-li’. The trek along this plateau is a long one, but for the serious student of history, it is an unforgettable experience.
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