Know Kirtimukha, the demonic face commonly placed above doors of Shiva temples

By Krushna Mahapatra

Bhubaneswara, Kirtimukha is one of the most fascinating demon motif in the iconography in many of our ancient temples in India and Southeast Asian countries including Cambodia and Thailand. This fierce demon icon can be seen placed above the doors in several ancient Shiva temples in our state Odisha and elsewhere across Asia.

As per popular legend an ever hungry demon, created by the Lord himself, repeatedly asked Lord Shiva on what to eat and then Mahadev annoyingly said why don’t you start eating yourself. Within moments of saying so he started eating himself beginning from the feet. By the time the lord noticed, only his head was remaining and it was eating its own hands. Lord Shiva stopped him at that point and named the demon Kirtimukha and thus it got its place above the doors of ancient Shiva temples.
One can also see the ever smiling Kirtimukha atop the chariots during Ratha Jatra in Puri