THE SUN TEMPLE, KONARK
An inscription on a stone tablet at the Sun temple in Konark reads:
“ The most notable marvel of Orissan art of the stately Sun Temple built in AD 1250 during the reign of the Eastern Ganga King Narasimhadeva -1 (AD 1238-84). It was to enshrine an image of Sun (Arka), the patron deity of the place. The entire complex was designed in the form of a huge chariot drawn by seven spirited horses on twelve pairs of exquisitely carved wheels. The sanctum symbolizes the majestic stride of the Sun god and marks the culmination of the Orissan architectural style. The vimana of the deul has collapsed, while those of Jagamohana and Nala mandap are better preserved. The walls of the temple contain superb carving of divine, semi divine, human and animal figures amidst floral and geometric ornamentations. The vivacious kanyas and danseuse are remarkable for their sensuous modeling, pulsating with human emotions which are absorbed in a variety of gestures and rhythmic actions. Such sculptures render the Orissan temple a class unto themselves. Mighty simha gajas welcome the visitor at the porches.”
Konark Sun temple is the place to be if you are a photo enthusiast or an artist or simply a tourist with a passion for fine arts as its sheer size, shape and stunning looks at any angle will engross and transport you to your favorite world altogether. It is a perfect combination of religion, spirituality and art, all fused in stone sculptures and wall carvings.
If you hire a guide, he will probably say, it would take five full days to go round the two levels of the temple to explain the carved art treasures and the stories behind them in detail. You will start losing yourself in the fearsome stone guardian lions riding the elephants at the porch or in the scenes like, a lady standing at the doorsteps waiting desperately for her husband’s return, or a fashionable woman with her make-up box before a mirror or such other mundane matters like the quarrel between a mother in law and her daughter in law.
There are three huge granite carved figures of Sun god depicting his morning, midday and evening appearances on the three sides on the second level.
A significant portion of the temple and its images are either in ruins or mutilated and disfigured due to various reasons. Never the less, what remains is showcasing to the world the rich culture and heritage of Orissan architecture through its wall carvings and sculptures.
A video clip by this writer featuring Konark Sun temple taken in July 2009 is also available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6KtUUROdb0
A Navagraha temple with all the nine deities in a line and facing the main temple is there at a distance, where pujas are performed on a regular basis.