Sun Temple Konarak 1

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Visited Konarak in December 2013. Early mornings cold, gets sunny during day. Angle view of Sun Temple. Structure on right of pic is natya mandapa (festive hall). Temple built by Raja Narsimhadeva of the Ganga dynasty the temple is an e.g. of human grandeur. It is called natya mandapa because of the carnival of dance and music chiselled over the faces of its platform, plinth, walls, central pillars and pilasters flanking the doorways. The panel reflects the rhythms of life. This collection focusses on the natya mandapa.

Temple was built in 1250 A.D. to enshrine an image of Arka (Sun) the patron deity of the place. It resembles a chariot with 12 pairs of wheels pulled by 7 galloping horses and has a 3 tiered pyramidal roof topped off by a fine spire.12 wheels represent 12 months of the year. The chariot represents 7 days of the week and 24 hours of the day in its concept. Konarak is 65 kms from Bhubaneswar and 35 kms from Puri. Drive from Konarak to Puri alongside the sea is a treat.

East facing view of natya mandir, end of pic is dome. In front are mighty Simha-Gajas. Design-on platform are columns. All around platform are carvings of human, animal figures, dancers etc. Carvings from huge pieces of stone. 1200 workers worked day and night for 12 years with help of 1500 elephants to make temple. By end of 19th century, Konarak was a huge mass of stones. What remained was a beautiful shell of the jagamohana (porch). Restoration work began in 1901.

As you walk through the natya mandir see the grand temple. In front are horses (most damaged), side platform has chariots on either side along with intricate carvings, behind this temple was another grand temple (now in ruins) which has 3 images of Surya Devata (Sun God). The vertical portion of the porch (jagamohana) that u see rises to a height of 39 m from ground level.

Coming back to the Natya Mandir first panel is east facing. Pic captures the panel from top to bottom. Lots of carvings of ladies playing music and dancing. On top are pillars. Note centre of pic with a human on top - see close up in next pic. Natya mandapa is also known as bhoga mandapa (hall of offerings) because of its similarity to the bhoga-mandapa at the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneswar.

Left lowest and above that level are animals, looks like are ducks and elephant. Left higher level are soldiers with shields and handholding weapon. Right higher level look like soldiers on elephant and horses in a military procession. Centre is head of a simha-gaja with a lady sitting above.

Ladies playing musical instrument (dholak) and dancing. After the death of Mukundraja (1559-1568) Muslims attacked the temple, but failing in their mission carried away the copper kalasa and the crowning padma-dhvaja (flag). The name Konarak is derived from the presiding deity, and refers to arka or Sun of the kona or corner.

Top left images are 2 soldiers on elephants. Top right are soldiers with shield and weapon in hand, walking and on horses. Brahma Purana singles out Konarak as the most sacred place for worship of Surya in all of Utkala (Odisha).

Brighter pics taken early morning. Pics like this one taken between 4.30-5.30 pm. Lower level 3 small temples are called Khakhara mundis. In their niches are sculpted figures mostly of women while the two pilasters on either side of the khakhara mundis, each have a female figure. Top centre of pic in niche shows a hunter with bow/arrow with what looks like a tiger/lion. In temples of Belur Karnataka the Khakhara mundis are bigger as compared to what is there. To see pics of Temples of Belur, Karnataka. Click here

Pic is the same as earlier one except that it was taken early morning. Note the difference. Lower level are miniature representations of temples with khakhara mundis (wagon vaulted roofs). Lady playing dholak and in dancing pose.

Dancing and playing dholak images. Note top centre image is a elephant and bottom centre is a lady in dancing posture - elephant in centre niche is a rarity.

Close up of another panel. Centre niche shows elephant holding a man upside down. Other niches are ladies standing in pose or playing dholak. There is a shallow pool, immediately by the sea and within 3 kms of the temple, is known as Chandrabhaga, it is visited by devotees today for a ritual dip. I missed it please see.

Close up of images. Left to right is lady playing dholak, next is man woman getting close, third is with musical instrument, fourth is dancing pose. Grandeur of temple of was known far and wide. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1533) visited from Bengal. Abul Fazil, the hronicler of the court of Akbar (1556-1605), too paid tribute to its grandeur.

View of platform and pillars from south east side. Gives you an idea of the super work. Guide said original height of natya mandap was 90 feet, what you see in pic is only 30 feet.

View of platform from south eastern side. The missing roof the natya mandapa was probably of the pidha type. To see pics of Sun Temple Almora. Click here

Close up of panel - early morning pic.

Top centre image shows man with a flute. Image on its left is warrior on a horse. Image on extreme right is man on what looks like a lion or tiger.

Like pillar on extreme right of pic are 3 more pillars in each corner arranged in a square. U get a view of lower level image n intricately carved pillars.

Close up of panel. Right lady with long hair. Left couple. 3 basic rock types were used in construction, chlorite, laterite and khondalite. None of these stones were available locally, were probably transported long distances, by rafts along rivers.

Close up of images that is just below pillars. Centre looks like two ladies, next lady with arms raised over her head and last is lady with what I think is a musical instrument may be Veena.

Angular view of pillars.

Close up view of pillar. Top is necklace design seen in most temples. Bottom is images of dancing ladies.

Note the effort required to do such intricate work. Lady on right of pic has her hair in both hands, on left has a musical instrument Veena I think.

Left is lady with child. Centre is lady sitting on a stone bench. Lady on right is wearing ear rings, has stylish band tied round her waist and holding something like a rope in her hands.

Lower centre is Lady on a horse with sword in hand. On either side are ladies with dholak or in dancing pose. Extreme right is man fighting a tiger. Above that note carvings of elephants. Saw something similar in Belur and Halebidu Temples Karnataka. Top left to right second 2nd image is man with an axe, centre looks like with man with ladies on either side, right is bearded man with a water jar and extreme right is lady with a musical instrument.

Close up of another panel. Lower level left to right is second pic is lady seeing her face in the mirror probably putting sindhoor or bindi, top level centre niche is man on a elephant. Other of lady in dancing pose.

Images against setting sun. Lady in dancing pose. Second image from either side is seen in many temples ie body of a horse, face and claws of a lion. In Mukteswar temple it is seen to be standing on a elephant, here too looks like that image is damaged.

I think this is Gajabidake ie half elephant half lion with elephant on either side. In case of any errors in captions do write in. Usually I take pics, sit with guide and note down captions there itself. But after my camera got spoilt in Konarak was not my usual self. Heat, crowd made it more difficult.

Close up of panel. Lady on left is doing Namaste. Centre is image that has body of a horse, face and claws of a lion. Lady on right has her hands above her head. Pic taken against evening sun.

Local handicraft items at Chandrabhagha beach ie 3 kms from the temple.

Another view of panel against evening sun. Lower level left first pic shows lady with what looks like a Mace. Top centre niche has image of man with a sword.

Images in centre are in temple recesses. Lower right to left second image shows women seeing herself in a mirror with child by her side, extreme left shows lady with two children. Top four images show ladies playing musical instrument. In centre is man sitting on a animal, not clear which is the animal. Images badly damaged.

Panel shows ladies in various situations, with children-musical instrument-in stylish pose etc.

Extreme right of pic shows warrior on elephant with bow and arrow in hand, centre is man removing bow with arrow in hand (damaged) and left is lady playing dholak.

Left is warrior on horse swaying sword, centre is man playing flute, extreme right please advice.

Left to right second pic lady is wringing water from wet hair (the drops being drunk by a goose). Observe her carefully she is wearing high heel sandals.

Centre is warrior on elephant. On either side are ladies playing dholak. Intricate details in captions taken from booklet published by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Left is lady sitting on a sofa with a cushion for back support. Right is bearded man with what could be a umbrella not sure.

Western side of natya mandir against the setting sun. Gives you a clear idea of how big the platform is. To see pics of Mukteswar Temple Bhubaneswar. Click here

Close up of Simha-Gajas on an elephant. Note the size of stone. To see pics of Sun Temple Modhera in Gujarat. Click here

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