The Central government has told the Odisha government that its ordinance to bring the 11th-century Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar and its associated temples under a special law is outside the legislative competence of the state legislature. It also said the ordinance is in conflict with the rules laid down under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (AMASR Act).


About the ‘Lingaraj Temple’

  • Lingaraja Temple is a temple dedicated to Shiva and is one of the oldest temples in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
  • It represents the quintessence of the Kalinga Architecture and culminating the medieval stages of the architectural tradition at Bhubaneswar.
  • The temple is believed to be built by the kings from the Somavamsi dynasty, with later additions from the Ganga rulers.
  • It is built in the Deula style that has four components namely, vimana (structure containing the sanctum), jagamohana (assembly hall), natamandira (festival hall) and bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings), each increasing in the height to its predecessor.
  • The temple has images of Vishnu, possibly because of the rising prominence of Jagannath sect emanating from the Ganga rulers who built the Jagannath Temple in Puri in the 12th century.


What is the Lingaraj Temple Ordinance, 2020?

  • Lingaraj temple, the largest in Bhubaneswar, was constructed by King Jajati Keshari in the 10th Century and completed by King Lalatendu Keshari in the 11th Century.
  • In December 2019, the Odisha Government had announced a development plan for the temple and its peripheral area in Bhubaneshwar. The 66-acre “Ekamra Kshetra” development plan was launched to preserve the heritage and development of the nine sites and their nearby areas at a cost of around Rs 700 crore.
  • The first phase of the project includes outer access road development, Lingaraj entry plaza, Bindusagar revival plan, parking space, heritage complex, development of amenities for Kedar Gouri- Mukteswar complex, e-auto project, relocation project and a state-of-the-art interpretation centre.
  • The Lingaraj Temple Ordinance of 2020 was introduced to manage the rituals and other activities of the temple and eight other associated temples. This was intended to be on similar lines of the special Act which manages the affairs of the Jagannath temple in Puri, one of the four dhams in India. At present, the Lingaraj temple is being governed under the Odisha Hindu Religious Endowment Act.


Why has the Centre opposed the ordinance?

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs has said several sections of the proposed ordinance were in conflict with the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act. The AMASR Act provides for preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance.
  • The ordinance also provides for repair and construction of new buildings while the centre contended that constructions can only be allowed by the National Monuments Authority.