Influence of Madhaba Worship in Prachi Valley
Prachi Valley was the epicenter of Vaishnavism in the region long before it became a cult in the form of Lord Jagannath. There are 12 temples located in the Valley dedicated to Lord Vishnu or Madhaba as he is known in Odia. Most of these temples were constructed by the Bhouma and Somavansi Kings (between 736 AD to 1110 AD), apart from the temples, there are ten villages in the valley named after the Dasa Avatar or ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Saint poet Jaydev who was born in the 12th Century AD grew up in an environment which worshiped Madhaba hence Gita Govinda was the result of his devotion to the Lord. Niali was the place where the poet use to worship Madhaba, hence the temple which was built in the 13th Century, has a special place in the history of Odisha.
About the Temple
The architecture of the Niali Madhaba temple as its popularly called, is similar to that of the Ananta Vasudev Temple at Bhubaneswar. The temple was built during the last phase of temple construction activities in the Prachi Valley and hence has an evolved visage. Purely on basis of the Architectural point of view one can assume it was constructed by King Bhanudeva I of the Eastern Ganga dynasty .
The temple is built according to the Pancharatha design and consists of a Vimana, Jagamohana and the flat roofed Natamandapa. The four armed idol of Lord Vishnu or Madhaba is a rare visage, wherein Madhaba is depicted holding the Mace on the upper left hand, the Sudrashan Chakra in the lower left hand, the Lotus on the upper right hand and the Conch on the lower right hand.
Niali Madhaba temple offers a couple of instances of syncretisation between different sects and religion which has been the hallmark of Odisha throughout its chequered history. Inside the Jagamohana an image of Goddess Durga is inscribed. She is referred to as the sister of Madhaba, hence sometimes Madhaba is referred to as Durga Madhaba amongst the locals and the other one is Lord Buddha carved on the walls of the temple.
The other things to watch out in the temple are the Sudarshan Chakra carved out of black granite stone, the black sandstone Garuda statue at the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum. Right from the ornaments to the sacred thread of Garuda are designed as serpents.
The ornately carved temple walls depict scenes from the Mahabharata, Krishnalila, the dasa avatar and Lord Vishnu in ananta shayan mudra to name a few.
INTACH and Department of Culture, Government of Odisha recently carried out renovation work in the temple.
Janmastami and Ekadashi are the main festival of the temple.
Niali Madhaba temple is located at Niali which is approximately 50 KM from Bhubaneswar along the Bhubaneswar-Cuttack highway; take a right turn under the Phulnakhra flyover and head straight. The roads are good save for a few patches here and there.
If you want to offer prasad to the deity, you need to get it from Niali market, as there are no shops available near the temple.
There are no hotels for overnight stay at Niali or Prachi Valley; at Niali however one can get refreshment/snacks stalls.