India is home to some of the most mystical, architectural wonders of the world in the form of its millions of temples. (Read about: Kali temples of Bengal here). Konark Temple, also known as the Sun Temple, in Puri, Odisha, is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is a marvelous, chariot-shaped structure, with 24 wheels on its base. We all have marveled at the sculptures engraved on its walls for centuries. Here, we present some interesting facts about this great architectural marvel
The creation of the original Konark temple
There is an interesting legend behind the erection of the temple. Samba, the son of Sri Krishna, had incurred the displeasure of Narada and was cursed with leprosy. Samba was advised to practice penance and worship Surya (Sun God) as a remedy. Impressed by his dedicated penance, the Sun God appeared before Samba and asked him to recite His twenty-one different names. Next morning, while bathing in River Chandrabhaga, Samba found an image of Surya (Sun God) standing on a lotus pedestal, holding two lotuses in his hands. He carried the image to his Ashrama (Hermitage) and installed it in a temple built by him. Samba was soon completely cured of his disease.This temple is said to be the original Konark temple, which was later rebuilt by King Narashimhadev I (AD 1238-64) of the Ganga dynasty.
The temple is famous for 12 pairs of wheels situated at the base that gives it a chariot like structure. 4 out of the 12 wheels are sundials and can tell accurate time.
The scientific brilliance and the accuracy of the ancient device are absolutely riveting. These wheels have 8 spokes that signify “8 prahars” of a day. There is a narrow spoke between two wider spokes and each signifies 1.5 hours. These spokes are adorned with activities that people do during those times. Start the day with Yoga, then bath and dress up, eat dance and sing, and finally be intimate.
The temple is designed at an angle of 22.5 degrees east, in such a way that the first rays of the sun always falls in the main entrance. Within the temple is present 3 idols of the sun god. Each idol gets illuminated by the rays of the sun at different times of the day! In fact, the temple gets its name Kon(angle or corner ) + Ark (sun) signifying it is situated at a perfect corner to welcome the Sun.
The Power of Magnetism
The architecture of this temple is largely dependent on the accurate positioning of magnets. Each tower contains iron plates and magnets between stone pieces. The massive magnets, weighing around 52 tons each, have been placed at the lodestone. The structure is held together by these strategically positioned magnets and not by using limestone or granite to cement the stones. The main idol is said to be floating due to the magnetic field!
Moreover, the strong magnetic force protected the port from foreign invasions, by altering the in-house compasses. It often misdirected invading warships and caused shipwrecks. After the destruction of many a Portuguese ship, they named this temple the Black Pagoda.
The Art and the philosophy of life
The sculptures depict various social and cultural tenets of the erstwhile society. The main entrance includes a structure of a lion presiding over an elephant, that crushes a human figure. According to the Hindu mythology, lion resembles pride, and elephant resembles wealth, and both of them kill the human.
Like many other Indian temples, Konark Temple is also replete with erotic sculptures. The explicit nature of the sculptures points to the openness of the erstwhile Indian culture towards sex. There are depictions of homosexuality and polyamory, besides vivid celebration of the erotic.
There is much more to the nearly demolished structure, that is now preserved by our government.
The science, the architectural brilliance, and the philosophy behind this marvelous structure has withstood the ravages of time. The temple has evoked awe and wonder among its audience for about 800 years now!
- The story of art: the cost of exclusivity in the digital age - May 7, 2019
- The Screen time dilemma – the conflicted reality of today’s life - January 31, 2019
- 8 things you can do if you are in India during Sankranti - January 16, 2019
- One night with Friends, Mothers and the Calcutta Bungalow - December 29, 2018
- Reduce Your Global Carbon Footprint -The Indian Middleclass Way! - December 11, 2018
- The Rise of Fall! - October 26, 2018
- If you complain that #metoo is scary, read this - October 20, 2018
- Miguel Street – Experience the world in one street - October 2, 2018
- Dr Mandakranta Bose: On Sanskrit, her journey, and organizing the 17th World Sanskrit Conference - September 19, 2018
- Whatever happened to the Romance novels? - September 6, 2018