Odisha is full of archaeological treasures dating from the prehistoric times up-to the end of the Muslim rule in the middle of the sixteenth century. The excavations at Sisupalgarh testify to the presence of a highly developed early historic civilization in Odisha. The caves of Khandagiri and Udayagiri represent Odisha’s cave architecture dating back to the 1st century B.C. The caves were cutout in the solid rock on the orders of King Kharavela for the the Jain ascetics. There are altogether 18 caves in Udayagiri and 15 caves in Khandagiri. The caves are decorated with sculptural motifs.The Ranigumpha cave is a two storeyed structure and bears highly artistic sculpture.The sculptures of Khandagiri and Udayagiri form a landmark in the history of Indian art. They present a vivid picture of the contemporary society and occupy an important place in the rock – cut architecture of India. Like Jainism, Buddhism also provided inspiration for the development of art and architecture. It was Emperor Ashoka who directed the entire state machinery for the dissemination of Buddhism.We find two versions of his major rock edicts in Odisha, One at Dhauli and the other at Jaugada. The archaeological excavation at Ratnagiri has brought to light the remains of a main stupa, 2 viharas and 8 temples containing Buddhist images.
Architecture in Odisha has found its supreme expression in the form of temples, some of which are among the finest in the world. The famous temples of Orissa are : The Lingaraj temple at Bhubaneswar (11th century), the Jaggarnath temple at Puri (12th Century) and the famous Sun Temple at Konark (13th century). This style of architecture is called as the Kalinga style.A temple of this style consists of a structural duo, the main temple or shrine and the frontal porch.
The temples of Orissa have the following architecture : the main temple is called the Viman or the ‘Deula’, is the sanctum enshrining the deity, the porch or assembly hall is called as” Jagamohan” is the place for the congregation of the devotees. The former is constructed on a square base, has a soaring tower (sikhar) and is known as rekha deula. The latter is built on a rectangular base is a “pidha temple”
“The Mukteshwar Temple” (10th Century) of Bhubaneswar is considered a gem of odishan architecture and is accepted as one of the most beautiful temples of India.The temple of Jaggarnath at Puri is the earliest Ganga monument of Odisha.
The finest specimen of temples of Odisha and is considered to be the greatest monument of temple architecture in India is the famous Sun Temple of Konark which is conceived as chariot driven by horses. The chariot had 24 wheels and 7 horses. The wheels of the chariot are masterpieces of the art. the temple is perfectly proportioned in spite of its stupendous size.It is considered to be one of the wonders of workmanship among the temples of Odisha.
Some of the finest examples of sculptures of Odisha are found in Mukteshwar, Rajarani and Lingaraj temples.The temple walls teem with youthful figures are delicately modeled. Their chiseled smiles defy the passage of time and the onslaughts of decay. besides, there are numerous sculptural treasures strewn all over Odisha.There is a sculpture of an elephant, half hewn from a huge stone near which Ashoka wrote his edicts at Dhauli. The nine feet high colossal figure of Lord Nrusimha in black granite is enshrined in the Jagganath temple premises at Puri. The lion – gates form an important feature of Odishan art and architecture.