The presiding deity of the western Orissa,Maa samleswari rests in the Samaleswari temple of Sambalpur.The temple is of Sandhara order, built of a kind of stone durable as granite, cemented with lime mortar. The temple comprises of two separate structures. The square sanctum sanctorum enshrining the deity is four step below the 10’ feet wide covered circumambulation, which is supported by 12 stone pillars. Eleven Parswa devis (side Goddness), are embedded on the outer wall of the sanctum.
The building stands on a plinth 16’ high. The arched roof commences after a height of 18 feet and tapers to the height of 35 feet. The whole arch is oblong, resembling the upper half of the eclipse with equal longitudinal furrows and elevation through out the whole surface. Commencing from each corner at the base project four subordinate buildings 11 feet square, they are so situated that the sides of square base of the temple be produced. They touch two extremities of each of the buildings. Each of them has a domed roof, supported by six pillars. A hip knob pierced by an iron spike, adorns the top. Between these domes there are flat roofs supported by pillars, thus forming a square verandah on each side of the temple, with four domes at the corners adorned by the steeple which rises above all with gold pot spire glittering in the sunshine.
The Idol of Shree Shree Samalai Devi consists of a large block of Granite rock with an inverted, trunk like projection at the bottom. A shallow cut on her “Baraha” like face symbolizes her mouth. Traditional Sambalpuri nose ornament of pure gold hangs down from her imaginary nose Beaten gold leave fixed on two disproportionate golden eye like depression on the face acts as substitute for her eyes in an attempt to define the face of the mother deity on a mass of self shaped rock, the devi’s idol inspires sublime sentiments of awe, fear, reverence, devotion, love and affection towards all pervading motherhood. For more on Maa Samlei, please click here.