Markandeya is one among the Pancha Pandavas. God saved Markandeya from a severe danger from sea. The place where God saved Markanda is known as Markandeya, the holy place, on that particular spot Markandeya remained on meditation for a long time. At this place a Shiva Temple was constructed by sage Markandeya. The ancient Markandeswar Shiva Temple is situated in the Markandeswar street by the side of the Markandeswar tank, to the north of the Jagannath temple. This place can be approached on the right side of Markandeswar road leading from Markandeswar chowk to Prui-Brahmagiri road. The exact geographical location of this temple is LONGITUDE 85049’94”E and LATITUDE 19048’62”N.
Markandeswar temple is also known as Markandesvara Temple, Markandeya Shiva Temple and Markandeswara Mahadeva Temple. This temple is facing towards east and the presiding deity is a Sivalinga. This temple is connected with the rituals of Chandan yatra, Balabhadra Janma, Ashram Bije, Sital Sasthi, Kaliyadalan etc. of the Jaganath temple. Festivals like Janmastami, Risi Panchami, Rakhi Purnima, Sivaratri, Sankranti, Narasimha Chaturdasi etc. are also observed with great devotion at this temple. This place is one of the Pancha Tirthas of Puri and also one of the fifty two sacred Shiva places of the country.
Markandeya tank is an open structure and it enclosed within a stone wall made of dressed laterite blocks. The tank is rectangular is shape and 8.50 meters below the present road level. Its sides measure 350 feet on the northern side, 508 feet on the eastern side, 385 feet on the southern side and 542 feet on the western side. Bathing ghats are provided for the tourists in southern side of the tank. The tank is presently used for rituals as well as for normal bathing. Rituals like Pinda Dana, Mundan Kriya etc. are observed on the steps of the tank. The tank is fed by a natural spring from under ground. The excess and waste water is discharged through an outlet channel in the north eastern wall. As a result the water level of the tank remains constant throughout the year. The exact geographical location of this tank is LONGITUDE 85 048’94”E LATITUDE 19048’62”N.
Previously at the northern side of the tank there are seven stone images, each four feet high, kept over a platform representing the Sapta Matrukas or seven sacred mothers. These Seven Mothers are also accompanied by images of Lord Ganesha and Lord Virabhadra. I visited this temple on 02FEB2010 and found that the temple administration is creating a new temple for the Sapta Matrukas and all these images have already been shifted inside the under construction temple.
Few ancient stone inscriptions found on the steps to the tank and the Markandeshwar Temple, are of great interest to historians. These stone inscriptions pertaining to the Ganga dynasty. Both Markandeswar temple and Markandeswar tank can be dated back to the 12th century AD. Puri became an important center of pilgrimage by the 12th century. The history in Puri also proves that Sri Ramanuja visited Puri during 1107 and 1117. Sri Ramanuja was followed by Vishnu Swami, who is known to establish the Vishnuswami Matha, near Markandeshwar Tank.