64 Yogini Shrine

64-yogini-shrineThe Yogini Shrine is situated on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, nearly about 15km south west from the main city. It is hypaethral (open to the sky), and belongs to a genre of architecture completely apart from the major Odishan school. Although it seems that temples of this type existed throughout India at one time, today only four remain. Two of them are in Odisha; the shrine at Hirapur, and one in the far western reaches of the state, at Ranipur-Jharial.

The temple’s circular wall, which is barely 2 meter high, contains 64 niches within its inner circumference. All except one of these contain an image of a Yogini Goddess. Even today, standing in the deserted temple with bright sunshine pouring in, one senses a strange emanation from the temple, and this feeling is in keeping with its original purpose. Active between the ninth and thirteenth centuries, the cults responsible for these temples worshiped Yogini Goddesses in expectation of the direct acquisition of supernatural powers. The Yoginis were thought to be able to confer on their devotees the power to become microscopic or gigantic in size, to control the body and mind of oneself and of others, to fly, become invisible, and myriad other useful abilities. Worship seems to have centered on the repetition of the names of the Goddesses, and in later centuries, when active use of the shrines ceased, worshipers transferred their devotions to mystical paper diagrams.