Nestled on the banks of the Prachi river, near the famous Sun Temple of Konark, stands a lesser-known but equally fascinating temple dedicated to Goddess Varahi, also known as Barahi. She is one of the seven mother goddesses (Matrikas) in Hinduism, and is associated with the boar-headed incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Varaha. The temple of Barahi Deula, built in the 10th century AD by the Somavamsi rulers, is a rare and remarkable example of the fusion of tantric and vedic traditions, as well as the artistic and architectural excellence of ancient Odisha.
The temple is east-facing and built with sandstone. It has a rectangular sanctum (garbhagriha) and a hall (jagamohana) with a two-tiered hipped roof. The sanctum houses the main idol of Varahi, which is considered to be one of the masterpieces among the images of the deity found all over India. She is depicted as a pot-bellied goddess with the face of a boar and the body of a divine woman. She sits in a relaxed posture (lalitasana) on a pedestal, with her right foot resting on her vehicle, a buffalo. She holds a fish in her right hand and a bowl (kapala) in her left hand. A third eye is engraved on her forehead, and her hair is decorated in spiral coils. She wears various ornaments and a garland of skulls. On the back slab, two celestial beings (vidyadharas) are carved on either side.
The image of Varahi is worshipped according to the tantric rituals, which involve offering fish to her every day. She is believed to be the power (shakti) of Varaha, who rescued the earth from the demon Hiranyaksha. She is also regarded as the preserver of the universe, as she holds it in her womb. According to some legends, she was created by Lord Shiva to slay the demons Shumbha and Nishumbha, who had challenged the gods. She fought alongside Goddess Durga and other Matrikas in the epic battle.
The temple walls are adorned with various sculptures depicting scenes from Hindu mythology, such as Ramayana and Mahabharata, as well as aspects of daily life, such as music, dance, hunting, farming, etc. The temple also has a beautiful statue of Lord Surya (Sun God) in a niche. The temple is surrounded by a compound wall with four gateways. The temple complex also has two other smaller shrines dedicated to Varahi, which are placed in the jagamohana. Both of them show her seated in half-lotus posture (ardhaparyankasana), holding different attributes in her hands.
The temple of Barahi Deula is a unique and valuable heritage site that showcases the rich culture and history of Odisha. It is also a sacred place for devotees who seek the blessings of the boar goddess, who is said to grant prosperity, protection, and wisdom to her worshippers. The temple is open for visitors from sunrise to sunset. It is located at Chaurasi village, about 27 km from Konark. It can be reached by bus or cab from Konark or Puri. The temple is also close to other attractions such as Amareswar temple, Laxminarayan temple, Ramachandi temple and beach.