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Photos of the Konarak Sun Temple - Witness to social, moral and religious customs
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 11:14:52 +0530
"In Konark, the "Natya Mandir", the dance hall of the Sun Temple probably remains as the last remnant of the glorious temples of Orissa an extant example of the architectural excellence of the times. Built in the 13th Century, here a collossal image of the chariot of the Sun, drawn by seven horses and 24 wheels symbolises the divisions of time. The main tower of Konark stood as high as 227 feet, superceding both Lingaraja and Jagannath Temples. The Jagmohana (Porch) structure and the tower are both situated atop the stone platform supporting the 24 wheels. The Konark Sun Temple also houses a Natamandira or dancing hall.
Only two subsidiary temples out of the 22, that were also situated inside the temple precincts, exist today. The VaishnadeviMayadevi Temple stand to the West of the towers. The Sun temple of Narasimhadeva is a depiction in stone of the life of those times – royal, social, religious and military. The intricate carvings on the walls and wheels of the chariot are unprecedented in history. The fine sculptures depicting Court life, hunting, scenes, celestial deities are epitomes of precision and grace. Graceful sculptures from the world of the Kamasutra, epic of eroticism also adorn the structures."
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 11:19:45 +0530
"The sun temple at Konarak is the highest point of achievement of the Kalinga (today Orissa) order. In it’s present ruined state, it stands with majestic dignity and isolated solitude. Amidst a vast stretch of sand, about 3 km from the Bay of Bengal this stupendous edifice with its perfectly proportioned structure perfectly matches the endless wealth of decoration on its body. Under the overwhelming shadow of the colossal structure does one breathe the enchanting air emanating from the sculptures. Konarak (latitude 19°53¢ North; longitude 86°06¢ East) is a small village in the district of Puri (the land of the sea and Lord Jagannath). The road distance is 35 km from Puri and 66 km from Bhubhaneswar.
The name Konarak is the popular form of Konarka. The name of the place is derived from the presiding deity of Konarak, which means Arka (‘Sun’) of kona (‘Corner’). The kona perhaps comes from its relation to Trikona, in the corner direction of which the temple was erected. (According to the Archaeological Survey of India, Trikona may be identified with the place Tikona on the bank of river Kushabhadra, nearly 9 km south west of the Konarak Temple.) Early European seamen called the main temple at Konarak as Black Pagoda.
The legend of Konarak goes back to the mythical times as embodied in the Kapila-Samhita, Madala-panji (the chronicle of the Jagannath Temple, Puri) and Prachi- Mahatmaya. Earlier than these the Bhavisya-Purana and Samba-Purana form to be the basis for the legend of the late texts.
According to these Puranas, Samba the son of Krishna and his wife Jambabati, had a handsome appearance. The boy was aware of this and had a great pride of the fact. Narada (a rishi –sage who was an ardent devotee of Krishna) was once ridiculed by Samba. The sage took recourse to avenge him and by adopting a cunning method led Samba to the bathing place of his stepmothers, who were inadvertently struck by his beauty. Krishna coming to know about his son’s apparent lack of propriety cursed him to be smitten with leprosy. This would naturally affect his beauty. Samba proving his innocence could not but take away the curse. The recourse offered to him was to proceed to Mitravana near Chandrabagha, where he was to please Surya (Sun – the healer of all skin diseases). Samba did this and after a long period of severe penance (12 years), he was cured of his illness. In gratitude, he decided to erect a temple in the honour of the god. Samba built a temple in Mitravana. According to the Bhavisya-Purana, the original episode took place near Chandrabagha (the river Chenub in Punjab). The sun temple here at Multan (Pakistan) still stands and has a glorious reference in the writings of Hiuen Tsang. The shifting of this legend to Konarak was done obviously at a later time, when this became a centre of Surya-worship. A shallow pool of water beside the sea and within 3 km from the temple is known as Chandrabagha River. Millions *** of devotees take a purificatory bath before sunrise on the Seventh day of the month of Magha (January-February). This festival is better known as Magha-Saptami. It is not known whether the name Chandrabagha was an original one or borrowed.
Purandara Keshari of the Keshari dynasty at Arka-kshetra (kshetra – land, land of sun) built a temple of Konarka-deva, as per the Madala-panji. The rulers of the Ganga dynasty, who ousted the Kesharis, also paid homage to the deity. One among them Anangabhima increased the amount for the service of the deities. He had promised to enlarge the temple of Purushottamadeva at Puri (the Jagannath Temple). The king failed to keep his promise. It was his son and successor Narasimhadeva who erected the present temple as it stands today. The in charge of constructing the temple was his officer Siva Samantaraya Mahapatra. He built a larger temple in front of the temple built by Purandara Keshari and installed the image from the small temple into the new one. The copper plates of the Ganga king Narasimhadeva (AD 1238-64) mention the magnificent achievement of Narsimha as the builder of a mahat-kutira (great cottage) of Ushnarasmi (Surya) in the corner of Trikona.
The historical identity of Purandara Keshari is yet to be established. He may be identified with the Somavamsi Puranjaya (end of 11th century AD).
PURPOSE FOR BUILDING THIS TEMPLE
The main purpose is unknown. The possible purposes may be as explained below.
Surya is believed to be a curer of diseases and granter of wishes. This temple may be a thanksgiving from the king to the god for recovering him from some injury or granting his wish for a healthy son.
It should be remembered here that the powerful king was popularly known as langulia, meaning a tail. That the king had a protuberance of the spinal cord or that he had some kind of physical deformity, of which he wanted to get cured, may have been the reason for building the temple. The king’s son was named Bhanudeva, the first solar name in the family shows that the king had a high regard for the god Surya.
It may also have been built as a memorial of the powerful ruler. He had led a successful campaign against the Muslims.
THE GLORY OF THE TEMPLE
The glory and fame of the temple had spread beyond the limits of Orissa during the 16th century. This fact is proved by the visit of the great Vaishnava saint Chaitanya’s visit to the place (AD 1486-1533) and following the vivid description of the temple by Abul Fazl, in his famous book Ain-I-Akbari. Abul Fazl was the famous chronicler of in the court of Akbar (AD 1556-1605).
The decay of the temple was gradual. The popular legend that no religious offerings were held in the temple as it had lost its sanctity during completion is untrue. The legend holds that the king had ordered the craftsmen to complete temple within a stipulated time. As time neared the ending the 12000 craftsmen realized that the temple could not be completed by the time. The mangala kalash at the top of the temple was not finished. The young boy of the chief craftsman vented to complete the job by the stipulated day. He completed the job, but he committed suicide jumping from the top of the temple. This was to save the lives of those 12000 men who could not complete the job.
After the death of the Ganga king Mukundaraja (Ad 1559 - 68) the yavanas (Muslims) made a destructive attempt on the temple, failing which they carried away the copper kalasa (water pot, pitcher shaped member in the finial of a temple) and the padma-dhvaja (finial of a temple in the form of a lotus crowning a staff). In the eighteenth century the chlorite pillar called the Aruna-stambha, was removed to Puri by the Marathas and placed it in front of the Jagannath Temple. In front of the Simha-dwar (Lions Gate) of the temple it stands still today. After the attempt by the Muslims, the deity was perhaps removed to the Jagannath Temple at Puri.
According to the Archaeological Survey of India, the theory of non-completion of the temple is untrue. This is in view of the platform and the spouted pedestal of the enshrined image in the sanctum bearing indubitable signs of their having been religious service for a considerable time. (Unfortunately to maintain the monument the sanctum has been filled.) At no part of the plinth is there any sign of sinking or unequal settlement because of weak foundation. The walls or other structures also do not evince any seismic commotion. Lightning also cannot have any effect on such a massive edifice, though the same may damage the smaller elements.
It appears or hence suggests that the structure crumbled, decay initiated by the desecration. The forsaken by the presiding deity fell deserted and naturally into utter neglect. During the string gale of 1848 much of the temple was crumbled or was covered by sand. The destructive forces of nature had not had much to do with the present state of the edifice, but the greedy hands of men set forth its downfall. Even the kings, the Raja of Khurda was particularly after the chlorite slabs. The finest sculptures were removed by the Raja.
It comes to the natural result that this grand edifice suffered much at the hands of men, as has many others.
In 1806, the Marine Board first raised to issue of taking measures to preserve the edifice. The Black Pagoda, served as an essential landmark on the shallow coast of Orissa. During the period of 1806 to 1900, the government did not take notice of the fact and only very minor repairs were made on the edifice. The year 1900 saw the visit of Sir John Woodburn, the Lieutenant Governor to Konarak. Fully impressed with the necessity and urgency of the structural repairs to the shattering fabric of the temple he issued an order to the effect. The Archaeological Surveyor of the Bengal Circle, T. Bloch in 1901, submitted a note to the Government of Bengal suggesting the unearthing of the buries portion of the temple and the compound wall, the clearance of sand from the compound, the reaffixing of broken mouldings on the walls of the porch and the preservation of the portions standing in a dangerous position.
The year 1901 was thus a memorable year in the history of conservation of the temple. This year witnessed the first time the launching of a planned campaign to save the edifice at any cost. The essential works for conserving the porch was completed in the year 1905.
In 1906, a large scale planting of casuarinas and poonang tress were taken up, to check the advance of the drifting sand and minimize the abrasive action of the sand laden salty winds.
Extensive chemical cleaning and preservation of the façade from top to bottom has been taken up. The building was registered as a World Heritage Site in the year 1984. A spacious museum has been constructed by the side of the edifice, by Archaeological Survey of India for display of various structures, which fell from the temple or were excavated."
*** a typical Indian exaggaration in the tradition of the alankaras of the Puranas
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 11:24:07 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 11:26:38 +0530
the chariot form
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 11:28:54 +0530
the horses pulling it
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 11:33:58 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 11:35:52 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 11:40:40 +0530
steps to the Jagmohan
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 11:42:10 +0530
side of the dancing-hall in front of it
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 11:46:38 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 11:48:09 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 11:50:07 +0530
inside the dancing hall
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 11:52:03 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 11:53:47 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:01:10 +0530
dancers, and inbetween again and again the lion, here above an elephant (I read somewhere that the lion represents the Hindu tradition, the elephant Buddhism)
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:03:41 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:05:17 +0530
head of a lion
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:07:01 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:10:22 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:12:20 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:15:43 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:17:15 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:19:12 +0530
at a corner again a lion
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:22:31 +0530
this time ferocious looking, and yet peaceful, tolerant, with small elephants
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:26:56 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:28:30 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:31:27 +0530
woman with child (holding a mirror/instrument?) and woman with bird
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:37:29 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:39:51 +0530
a corner lion and a sexual scene
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:41:59 +0530
here the lion has an elephant or boar-head
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:44:23 +0530
lion with figures
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:52:48 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:54:13 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:57:00 +0530
bowing at an affectionate mother's feet
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 12:59:46 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 13:03:03 +0530
a teaching situation?
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 13:06:55 +0530
a lion with couples
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 13:09:44 +0530
trampled but smiling
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 13:12:42 +0530
an animal scene
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 13:14:54 +0530
out of Africa (an expedition into Africa? How would a giraffe come to India?)
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 13:21:02 +0530
view from the dancing hall back out
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 13:26:52 +0530
a guarding lion
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 13:29:45 +0530
relics of one of the surrounding temples
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 13:32:31 +0530
now to one of the main attractions
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 13:34:11 +0530
a wheel of the chariot
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 13:36:57 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 13:39:19 +0530
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 13:43:01 +0530
the hub, with 4 x 7 decorating elements
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 13:44:41 +0530
the hub of another wheel
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 13:46:09 +0530
The Sun-temple itself contains on a raised platform accessible by stairs four raised murtis of Surya-dev, looking into the four directions.
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 17:17:23 +0530
this one standing
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 17:19:35 +0530
again with a symbolic chariot drawn by seven horses
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 17:21:23 +0530
a child carried by water
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 17:23:00 +0530
here Surya on horseback
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 17:24:17 +0530
a closer look
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 17:26:29 +0530
a curious detail, that mix hinting at a terrestrial and aquatic animal which is the makara-dragon, here in two instead of in one single being
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 17:40:28 +0530
here is another Makara
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 17:43:29 +0530
and here a curious little decorative detail
nabadip - Thu, 15 Jul 2004 17:49:30 +0530
a small error: the upper part of the right figure does not fit exactly on the lower one.
nabadip - Mon, 19 Jul 2004 15:55:32 +0530
Here is a quote telling us that the Konarak temple was actually a Surya Narayana Temple; the murti is now in the Jagannath Mandir. This also explains why Sri Gauranga came for darshan to Konarak.
The temple of Dharmarja or Surya Narayana -http://www.ignca.nic.in/orist051.htm
The temple of Dharmaraja is of no architectural value except that it contains three parts contiguous to each other, this is rarely met with. The curve of the outer contour is very little in comparison with the height, and the elevation is consequently rather ugly. A peculiarity with the temple is that the figure of projecting lion is not noticeable here as is usually met with in the temple of Orissa, the figure of a crouching elephant on a horizontal slab of some projects from the temple. The importance of the temple is due to the nature of the deity enshrined therein. In the vimana are noticed the brass or bronze figures of the sun and moon gods with a Lotus in each hand, the right hand figure is made of a mixture of eight metals or ashta-dhatu, between them and on a higher elevation is seen the figure of Dharma or Surya Narayana, and behind the stone background of this figure is seen a beautiful image of a multilated Buddha in a sitting posture with several carved figures - all in black stone. The figure of Narayana stands on a pedestal of stone carved with the figures of seven horses, this is evidently the figure of the sun or surya Narayana. The images of Buddha came here from the time of the Sun, Moon and Narayan have been imported from Konarka. The general belief is that the images were brought from Konarka and placed in their present position in the reign of Narasimha Deva, the son of Purushottama Deva, in the 17th. century A.D. This temple, however, renders the problem of the Buddhistic influence on the conception of Jagannatha easy of solution.