Situated on the banks of Mahanadi, amidst a picturesque setting is the leaning temple of Huma. Though a small hamlet in the Sambalpur district of Odisha, Huma enjoys huge popularity among both tourists and devotees from Odisha on account of the structural novelty of the temple located here.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the marked tilt of the temple is a unique spectacle to behold. Here Shiva is worshipped under the name of Lord Bimaleshwar. Due to its inclination, the temple is often compared to the leaning tower in the Italian city of Pisa. One among the very few leaning structures around the globe, the temple is a favorite among the tourists visiting the region. Huma is located about twenty five kilometers from the city of Sambalpur.
The reason of the tilt cannot be attributed to any technical flaw during the construction, as several other temples were built during the era and none of them had a leaning structure. While the edifice of the temple is tilted towards one direction, the pinnacle remains perpendicular to the ground. This design was perhaps a deliberate attempt on the part of the architects to safeguard the temple from the underlying water currents. Another probable reason for the tilt could be attributed to a shift in the rocky bed on which the temple stands due to the strong underlying water currents or an earthquake. There are several other small temples in the complex and all of them are tilted.
The temple is believed to have been built by the fifth Chauhan king of Sambalpur, Raja Baliar Singh in 17th century AD. According to certain sources it was Raja Anangabhima Deva III who built this temple, while Baliar Singh renovated it. Some believe that it was built sometime in the 16th century as during that period a string of Shiva temples were constructed along the banks of Mahanadi and the temple at Huma was perhaps one of them.
Legend has it that, everyday a milkman used to offer milk on a rock that had naturally emerged from the ground. The milk used to be miraculously absorbed by the rock. Later the rock was worshipped as a Shiva linga. According to another popular belief, a cow used to cross the Mahanadi and offer her milk on the Shiva linga. The owner of the cow discovered this and the people from the region soon started worshipping the idol.
A special kind of fish called the ‘Kudo’ fish is found in abundance in the stream that passes along the temple. These large fishes are considered sacred and are never caught. They, in fact, are pet fishes and jump to catch the food thrown at them. It is said that during rains and floods the fishes come to rest under the idol in the temple and are thus never washed away. Few shops in the temple premises sell small balls of food, which the visitors can buy and offer the fishes.
Boat rides are available from the bank where the temple is located to the other side where there is a large idol of Kali standing on Shiva. Also, there is the statue of a woman cutting a fish. According to a popular belief, she turned into stone as she was trying to eat the Lord’s fish. The statue was perhaps installed to prevent fishing in the area. The rock formation on the river bed is also quite beautiful.
Sadly, not many outside the region are aware of this marvel from Western Odisha. Recently efforts have been made to build tourism in and around the temple. A park facing the Mahanadi, a community toilet and a dormitory have been added to the complex. Steps have been also been taken for the development of the ghat and other beautification work in and around the temple.
The annual fair during Mahashivratri is organised in a grand scale and a must visit for devotees and tourists. So if you haven’t already, do visit this beautiful and unique temple in the midst of nature in all it’s splendor. You definitely are going to cherish the time forever.