--> Skip to main content

Rare Matsya Varahi Temple At Chaurasi In Puri – Odisha – Barahi Temple

A very popular and rare Matsya Varahi temple is located on the banks of Prachi River at Chaurasi in Puri district, Odisha. This rare Barahi temple is an amalgamation of Tantricism and Vaisnavism and was constructed between the 10th and 11th century CE. The deity is locally referred to as Matsya Varahi. The shrine follows the Shakta Tantric tradition. A fish is offered to the deity daily in the temple.

Goddess Varahi is the Shakti of Varaha incarnation of Bhagavan Srihari Vishnu.  Tantric text 'Varahi Tantra' mentions about the five forms of Goddess Varahi  - Svapna Varahi, canda Varahi, Mahi Varahi (Bhairavi), Krcca Varahi and Matsya Varahi. The description of Matsya Varahi closely
corresponds to the image enshrined in the temple.

It must be noted that Goddess Varahi is also one among the Saptamatrikas.

The murti of Goddess Varahi worshipped in the temple is unique. The murti has the face of a boar and the body of a beautiful divine woman. What is unique about the murti is that it has a big belly to indicate Goddess Varahi holding the universe in her womb. As she is holding the universe in her womb, she is Bhugarbha Paranesvari Jagaddhatri. The murti has has two arms and she is shown seated in Lalitasana on a pedestal. The right of the murti hand holds a fish while the left hand holds a

Kapala. She has kept her right foot on her Vahana buffalo which is seated on the pedestal at the
bottom. Varahi is represented with a third eye on her forehead which is not clearly visible at present.
Her hair is decorated in the form of spiral coils. On the back slab two Vidyadharas are represented each on either side.

The main sanctum sanctorum also has two more murtis of Goddess Varahi which are smaller. Both of them are seated in ardhaparyankasana.

Among them the image in the right niche is shown with a fish in her right hand and a kapala in her left hand. At the bottom a figure of naravahana is placed on the pedestal.

The four-armed Varahi in the left niche holds a kapala in the lower left hand and is shown with Varada mudra in the corresponding right hand. The upper right hand holds a fish and left hand
holds a rosary.

Two of the Parsva devatas are still found intact in the niches of the temple. In the niche of the south wall Ganesa, the deity of the learning has been represented, while the niche of the west wall protects the image of Surya, the deity of light. The niche of the north wall is empty. Most probably, it contained the image of some tantric deity i.e Bhairava.

Viewed from architectural point, the Chaurasi Varahi temple marks a significant deviation from the usual tradition of Rekha and the Bhadra type and exhibits a novel style which according to Orissan nomenclature is of Khakhra or Gaurichara variety.

The ground plan of the shrine presents a pancharatha type both in plan and construction. The Vimana is rectangular in cross section and with its elongated vaulted roof. The vase of the Vimana
measures 18ft by 22 ft and height of it is 27ft. The Jagamohana which is also rectangular in shape
like that of the Parsuramesvara is a Pidha temple with seven distinct tires of Pidhas. The walls of
both the Vimana and Mohana are beautifully decorated with the figural and arabesque motifs and maintain a high order of balance and rhythm.

The noteworthy reliefs are found on a single board that surrounds the whole Jagamohana just
below the Varanda where scenes from Ramayana such as killing of the illusory deer, the abduction
of Sita, the murder of Jatayu, the uprooting of seven palm trees, the murder of Vali, the
construction of the bridge over the sea are depicted with grace and precision.