all its resplendence sun
Hugh and Colleen Ganter
one is quite sure how old Konarak is, who founded it or why. But there are
tales. Even in Bhubaneshwar, 65 km away, and in Puri, 35 km down the Marine
Drive, history has turned into legend, evolved into myths, crystallised into
crafts. If you should choose to take the road from Bhubaneshwar, pause briefly
at the dazzling roadside hamlet of Pipli. Its craftsmen once specialised in
making bright applique backdrops for the great idols of the temple of Puri: Lord
Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. Today, these sacred skills have been adapted
to creating vivid bags, cushion covers, bedspreads, tablecloths and brilliant
After all that resplendence, Konarak might come as a
bit of a disappointment, at first. The town, which was a major port in the First
Century A.D., is insignificant today. Its famed temple sits low in a walled
depression, snugly cosseted in folklore.
According to the ancient Bhavishya Purana, Samba, the
handsome son of Lord Krishna, once made the mistake of slighting the mischievous
sage Narada. In revenge, Narada tricked Samba into visiting a forbidden place
where the ladies of the court were bathing. When Lord Krishna learnt of this, he
cursed his son and the young prince was immediately stricken by a disfiguring
skin disease. Samba pleaded his innocence, and proved it. His repentant father
told him to bathe in the Chandrabhanga river . When Samba was cured, he built a
temple in honour of Surya, the Sun God.
Sun God has always been revered as the curer of skin diseases. When the Ganga
King, Narasimhadeva I (1238-1264 A.D.) built his sun temple here, in Orissa, he
also relocated the Samba legend in the city of Kon (the corner) Arka (of the
Walk down the steps, set in the slope of the retaining
walls, and you will encounter an architectural drama. The body of the ancient
temple is concealed by the rise of a pillared building. In all likelihood, this
was the Bhoga Mandip or Festive Hall.
Climb the steps of the Bhoga Mandip, very slowly, and
let the temple reveal itself. It is magnificent but, nevertheless, it was only
the entrance hall of the great temple. Behind it, soaring for 70 metres into the
sky, was the tower protecting the sanctum. Sadly, that collapsed a century ago,
leaving only its pillared platform. And to prevent the entrance hall from
suffering the same fate, an English architect had it filled with sand which,
possibly, was the wisest thing he could have done.
around the remains of the Sun temple, admiring its intricate sculptures. The
temple, now identified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, replicates the
legendary Chariot of the Sun. Twelve enormous carved wheels appear to support
the temple-chariot which is drawn by seven galloping horses. They represent the
seven days of the week. The charioteer is the Sun God, himself, though the main
idol once enshrined in the sanctum of the temple was removed to Puri after the
temple began to crumble: it was built of that easily-eroded stone, khondalite.
One reason for the abandoning of the temple could be that it was shunned by the
local pundits. Surya was regarded as an alien god brought in from Iran along
with his fire-worshipping priests, the Magi. A beautiful carving of Surya, still
standing in the temple, shows him wearing knee- high boots, normally associated
with equestrians. All other Hindu deities are barefoot.
Primarily, however, this temple was meant to glorify
the life and times of a king and his court. The emphasis of the sculptures and
carvings, therefore, is on luxury, valour, pomp and sensuousness. Keep this in
mind when you walk around the temple. Let your imagination take wing to see and
hear the musicians and the sounds of the royal hunt; the amorous whispers of the
courtesans leaning languidly against pillars, or perfuming their bodies in the
smoke of fragrant fires; hear the soft pad-pad of a lumbering elephant and the
tong-tong of the bell around its neck; scent the aromas of rich viands simmering
in a cooking pot, Konarak, then, was a burgeoning royal capital.
in the 16th Century, when the Mughal chronicler Abul Fazl wrote his Ain-i-Akbari,
28 temples stood here: six outside the entrance and 22 beyond its enclosing
walls. Today, the ruins of only a handful remain. The site museum, however, has
an impressive collection of sculptures found abandoned when the temples
Traditions, though, are not as easily eroded as the
stones of temples. Every year, when the moon waxes in the January-February month
of Magha, a great fair is held around a small saline pool, three kilometres from
the temple. The pool has been renamed the Chandrabhanga. Pilgrims bathe before
dawn and wait for the red orb of the sun to rise out of the sea. Then they walk
to the temple for their rich rituals of worship.
For a brief moment, then, life returns to Orissa's
ancient temple of the Corner of the Sun.
KONARK – SUN TEMPLE
Sun raises itself over Bay of Bengal, it's first rays fall on a temple dedicated
him-- Sun God. This temple is located along shoreline of Bay of Bengal. It is
called Konark temple. Invariably this temple stands as a symbol of Orissa. The
sun temple was built in 13th century. The architecture and sculpture of Konark
temple spell out poetry in stone. This monument form the golden era of Orissan
art is included in the world heritage list.
Konark temple was designed in shape of a huge Chariot. This was the chariot of
Sun. According to Hindu mythology, Sun God commands a chariot pulled by seven
horses while it transverses from East to West in during daytime. The artists
involved in carving out this temple had this story in mind and they were
successful in creating the desired structure. Today many sculptures are in bad
shape and archaeological survey of India has done a lot to restore many of them.
But still it becomes clear that this marvelous piece of architecture was in
shape of a mammoth chariot with 24 wheels pulled by seven horses and commanded
by Sun God. The wheels of chariot depict time, which accompanies sun while he
travels in sky. Some say that 24 wheel are 24 hours of a day and the seven
horses represent seven days of the week.
The whole temple has intricate and delicate carvings, which enthralls any
visitor to this temple. The surrounding was also chosen to suit the grace and
glory of structure. Lush green forest and a clean atmosphere with sea roaring
not far from this place has a charm of its own. The sea is just two kms away
from Konark but when temple was built the waves touched the foot of temple and
worshipped the deity inside.
walls of Black Pagoda, as European sailors called it, have murals depicting
different aspects of life. The sculptors who carved out these motifs on the
temple have done their work with incomparable charm. These depictions are an
attraction for not only the connoisseurs of art but they fascinate common man
too. Scenes of love war trade court transactions, hunting, catching of
elephants, sages teaching, childbirth, amorous dalliances, dancers and mythical
figures all show vivid moods and colors of life. Incomparable charm of these
figures bring alive a picture of day to day activities in those days.
The temple is built on a 4-meter high platform. The main spire of the temple was
220 feet high but it collapsed and Jagmohana or the porch is filled with stones
to prevent it from collapsing. It is 120 meter high. The morning, noon and
evening sun are caught by three chlorite figures of Surya. Each of these figures
faces three different directions. The main entrance of has two huge statues of
lions crushing elephants. The dancing hall, which lies between main structure of
the temple and the enter ance, has very intricately carved depictions. In fact
the walls, ceilings, the base; every thing is filled with delicate carvings.
This temple also has erotic carvings as done on the walls of Khajuraho temples.
These carvings were probably done to show that from worldly pleasure one could
attain salvation by coming to god. Or these carvings also show how peace can be
obtained by renouncing the false pleasures. How could the artists forget planets
when they were constructing temple for sun God? So they built a temple dedicated
to the nine planets. This temple is located to the right of main entrance.
is very near to Bhubaneshwar and Puri. From The state capital Bhubaneshwar it is
just 65 Kms and Puri is just 35 kms from Konark. These two places also serve as
transit points to Konark. Bhubaneshwar and Puri provide nearest railway links to
Konark. The Bhubaneshwar airport is the nearest airstrip. Also these places
reduce the accommodation problem in case of a major tourist inflow to the town
of Sun temple.
Every year in November these temples come alive with classical dance
performances by artists from all over India. Konark temples are venue for the
Konark dance festivals. During this festival people from all over the world come
here. They enjoy the classical dance performances by renowned dancers with Sun
temple providing the back ground. This festival of dance is a major tourist
attraction for the place.
Otherwise also when the sun goes down the horizon floodlights illuminate the
Konark temple. The artificial lights enhance the beauty that engulfs the visitor
during daytime. These lights reflect sun temple as mammoth structure as if there
is no equivalent to it. And yes beauty and architecture of Black Pagoda in
Konark is incomparable at least in this part of the world. It has created an
image of its own on the world tourist map. The memories of Konark shall be
etched in visitors' mind even years after his visit.
Konark Dance Festival:
was always an integral part of worship in Orissa. This is distinctly manifested
as the presence of dancing halls is in practically all of Orissa's temples.
Odissi, the traditional classical dance of Orissa owes its revitalisation to the
discovery of the ancient treatise on dance, the 'Abhinaya Chandrika' and the
study of ancient sculptures on the walls of temples by dedicated artistes. Thus,
it is only fitting that the Konark Dance Festival, a mega celebration of
classical dance forms in India, is held every year at one of India's most
splendiferous venues, for an evening of dance, is the Amphitheater located at
the backdrop of the fabulous Sun Temple at Konark.
SILENT HISTORICAL PAST IN STATUES OF KONARK
TEMPLE, ORISSA, INDIA
that we experience after reading the great literary text of great authors gives
the same feeling that can be experienced after looking the world famous Konark
temple at Konark (Orissa state), India. Konark is famous for its majestic
temple of the Sun God. The word KONARK bears a name composed of two word
elements - KONA means Corner and ARK meaning the Sun.
In this sun
temple of Konark it appears like as if the architecture and his sculptors has
written beautiful poems on stones in the smallest to smallest stone of the
temple. Still the present silent ruins speak of their rich glorious past which
we are all proud of.
Due to various human interventions and natural calamities with the passage of
time, the main temple had suffered destruction turning into a ruin. Still
whatever is left illustrates the fine architectural skill of the rich historic
The Sun temple of the Konark was made by King Narshimha Dev-I of Ganga
dynasty in 1250 AD. The entire temple of Konark was conceived as a single piece
of sculpture. It is said that in its construction process about 12,00 sculptors
worked for 12 years. In this context it is also said that its highly skilled
master architecture and sculptor Bishu Maharana when left his home for 12 years
when his son Dharampara was too young. When his son grew up and became a
master in architectural mathematics, he came to meet his father at the site of
construction. But there occurred an error in one of the element of construction
without which it was not possible to build the crown of the temple. His son
pointed out the error and gave solutions using his skills thereby letting the
work go ahead. Legend says that at one instance his son Dharampara became happy
for his success but at same time he felt guilty using his success behind the
failure of his own father. This hurted his sentiments so much that he committed
suicide after climbing the temple and jumping into the river Chandrabhaga
flowing in backyard of the temple in those times.
Architect Bisu had thought of design as an enormous replica of the Sun-God's
cosmic chariot. Konark temple has three marvellous illustrations - Rising
Sun, Sun at its peak in afternoon, and the all days tired Sun. Expressions of
love and fights, victory and defeat, hunting and trading, soldiers on
elephant top, dancer beating drum and many day to day human activities of those
times, which those sculptors had inscripted on stones.
temple was in its construction phase, it was the "Golden Period" for
the architectural splendors in Orissa. Today this temple complex is in ruins and
all efforts are made for its restoration. It also figures its place in the World
Heritage List of Monuments. Still when one looks at this architectural marvel
one becomes speechless on looking and feeling the hidden marvellous skills of
sculptors of that period.
These silent statues of the ancient Indian civilization in Orissa, without
saying the words speak for everything. And for feeling and seeing these
silent statues thousand of people visit there every year.
The happiness after the victory chiselled in stones and the horses made of stone
is in reality the unrivalled architectural marvel. The chariot of Sun comprising
of 24 wheels and 7 horses turns the eye into fantasy as if the chariot of
Sun God will go on a voyage in the sky. It is also said that the main
temple, which is in ruins by the virtue of passage of time, was also the highest
temple in India in those times rising to some 225 feet in height.
Unfortunately the architect's dreams were never realised and it collapsed before
it could be completed. However present day's temple height rises to a height of
In each and every statue of the Konark there lies some hidden meaning. The
chariot of 24 wheels and 7 horses symbolises 24 months of the Indian calendar
and 7 days of the week. Each of the 24 wheels had 8 spokes which resembles the
time period in 8 parts (paher in Hindi) of the day. However the real experience
and charm of those unsung skilled sculptors can only be experienced in person
and not by photographs alone. However the Sun temple is towards its own sunset
and all kinds of efforts are made to save it from extinction. This temple was
constructed on the soft soil which is also a factor towards its early
description. If the Konark temple was looked well after its construction,
it would have surely been featured as another wonder like the Taj Mahal at Agra
(Uttar Pradesh state).
are no two opinions that in Konark, 1200 sculptors' tireless labour is capable
of filling with experience which elates one with happiness and joy. Anyone
visiting there is filled with a magical sense of awe and wonder to experience
the artistic and architectural genius and abilities those 1200 sculptors and
craftsmen. Konark temple is not just a symbol of Orissa state but the entire
I feel how poorer I would have been, had I missed the opportunity to see this
majestic temple situated at a distance of 64 kilometers from Bhubneshwar, the
capital city of Orissa.