From Tigers to Tombs

and all things heritage…..a trip covering the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.

Surya Namaskar at Konark

We (the two of us and three of our friends- Dhruva,Anirudh and Abhinav) arrived at Konark late in the evening all tired and weary.We managed to catch glimpses of the Sun temple then itself, and from what we saw we knew there was something special in store.
As we got to the temple next morning we were just awestruck by this wonder.Built by King Narasimhadeva 1 in the 13th century, the temple has a huge building in the centre that is flanked by twelve chariot wheels. We later on came to know that this main structure was just the mantapa and the actual sanctum was destroyed centuries ago. Apparently with the real sanctum, Konark would have been in the league of the highest temples in the world.Another thing that struck us was the intricate artwork all over the temple complex. The attention to detail in all that imagery just cannot be missed. The temple entrance has the figures of seven horses depicting the seven colours of light and the horses were pulling a chariot made of twelve wheels that represented the twelve months of the year.The chariots also acted as a sundial by which one could judge the time of the day to pin point accuracy. Such attention to detail and scientific data being depicted on a temple cannot be found anywhere else.
One cannot miss the erotic imagery around this amazing temple. Apparently this was done to lure people back into family life as the male population was dwindling (because of the numerous wars) and the few survivors were only interested in becoming sanyasis(hermits)! We cannot authenticate the accuracy of this information provided by our guide, but we can surely say that the images would have clearly made an impact.
Though we reached there quite early (at sunrise), the place started filling up by seven in the morning.  The visitor inflow kept on increasing, clearly proving that its a very popular site for the locals around. Most of them had gathered there early to pay respect to the first rays of the sun.The entrance to the mantapa has been walled, almost 100 years back as the structure would have collapsed if it was left untouched.The huge lawns of the temple were also well maintained and added to the overall beauty of the temple.
Konark was surely an interesting experience. A temple dedicated to the Sun God, adorned with erotic imagery and replete with scientific references was something that pleasantly surprised us. The Temple does stand as one of the greatest example of East Indian Architectural brilliance and gives us a glipmse to a past ruled by a heady mix of religion and reasoning.


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