Sun Temple Konark

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Visited Konarak in December 2013. Temple built by Raja Narsimhadeva of the Ganga dynasty. The temple is an e.g. of human grandeur. It was built in 1250 A.D. to enshrine an image of Arka (Sun) the patron deity of the place. It was conceived as chariot with 12 pairs of wheels drawn by 7 galloping horses that are placed on either side of the stairs in centre of pic.

Angular view of temple. Left of pic is a well. Attached to it is a kitchen. Konarak is 65kms from Bhubaneswar, 35 kms from Puri. On right is Natya Mandapa. To see its pics Click here

Close up of galloping horses. Left is wheel. 12 wheels represent 12 months of the year. The chariot represents 7 days of the week n 24 hours of the day in its concept. Per Guide names of 7 horses are Gayatri, Usmika, Jagiti, Tristhupa, Pagti, Brihati, Anusthupa - hope got the names right.

Walking round the temple clockwise this is the first wheel. The lavishly ornamented wheel of the divine chariot are carved against the sides of a high platform. The resemblance to a chariot ends with wheels and horses. The rest of the edifice is a typical Orissan temple, consisting of a deul or sanctuary (no longer exists) and a jagamohana or porch. To see pics of deul see Temples of Bhubaneswar. Click here

This is the second wheel. Deul and Jagamohana are built on a common platform, the exterior however is variegated into a pancha-ratha plan by projections known in Orissan Silpa-sastras or architectural canons as rathas or pagas. These afford an interplay of light and shade.

Images on panel. Left to right is image that has body of a horse, face and claws of a lion standing on a elephant. Next is a Nagakanya, mythical beings who are depicted with a human bust, a multi-hooded canopy and the tail of a serpent coiled around a pillar and vyalas (composite animals). They emphasize the supernatural and auspicious character of the temple. Next is a Mithuna couple.

Mithuna couples. All components of jagamohana are named after human limbs suggests that temples were likened to the human body. The general layout of the Konarak Temple is similar to that of the Yamesvara Temples of Bhubaneswar.

Left to right is described in pic 6, next is a Nagakanya, next is a lady with her hands above her head, centre in the niche are two girls who are dancing. Of the next three the centre lady is a Nagakanya and other two are striking a pose.

View of another Wheel. 3 rock types were used i.e. chlorite, laterite and khondalite. The masonry is ashlar. The facing stones were smoothly finished and fitted together so finely that the joints are hardly visible. The 8 spokes in each wheel symbolise the 8 prahars (time frames) of the day.

Close up view of wheel. Right has images of two ladies. Border of wheel has images of various animals like deer, elephant and birds. The themes of sculptures may be classified into deities, musician-nymphs of the celestial spheres, secular sculptures, birds/beats etc, architectural motifs/pilasters/chaitya windows etc and purely decorative patterns woven out of floral and geometrical motifs.

Images of ladies. Lowest one is lady in padamasan asana posture with hands over her head, lady in centre is sitting on a table with a back rest and lady in top of pic has something in her hand. Not sure if it is a snake or piece of cloth. There is a person in front of her who has folded his hands.

Side view of temple. Note the wheels all along the platform. On extreme right not in pic is natya mandapa, centre is temple and behind that deul or sanctuary (that collapsed over a century ago) is the jagamohana or bhadra deul, where the devotees assemble (u cannot go in now) with a roof made of pidhas or horizontal stages as will notice in pic 1.

Wood from a tree or mango or neem being burnt to treat the lady, is a form of an antiseptic. The temple is enclosed within a compound about 261m by 164m.

Another Wheel. They are so realistic that they even have an axle kept in position by a pin as it would be in an actual cart or chariot. The hub of the wheel is decorated with beaded rings and a row of lotus-petals, the latter in some wheels have dancers and musicians rhythmically sculptured.

Left of pic in centre of wheel shows lady on a elephant with many other standing at ground level, lowest image is of a lady sitting on a bench with maid in front, above that shows person on what looks like a horse. Close up of top images in next pic. In the centre that you see are richly carved medallions, containing numerous deities, erotic and amorous figures and kanyas in various poses.

Note intricately carved spokes of wheel. Left to right first two are Mithuna couples. Extreme right is lady with her hands above her head.

Side view of temple. In centre is well, on left is kitchen. In December people start coming from 6.30 am and upto abt 6.30 pm-was packed. Mornings were cool whilst gets sunny during the day. Winters is best time to go. Summers is hot and humid.

Upana is the name given to the area below the platform and the staircases of Orissan temples as you see. Note elephants ka sculptures at bottom of pic. The one recurring motif on the Upana is that of elephants, in various situations. It shows that the animal was a prized possession of ancient nobility.

Area circled in red is that of a Giraffe. It indicates trade relations with Africa during the 13th century. There is a scene of a hermitage delivering a discourse to a group of nobles which I missed seeing.

Another view of side panel. It took 12 years, 1200 workers and 1500 elephants to make the temple under the supervision of Shivai Samantara Mohapatra.

Another panel. Top panel mostly Mithuna couples. Lower panel has Nagakanyas, Mithuna couples amongst others. In centre of pic and on sides are shrines with wagon-vaulted roofs (khakhara-mundis). In the niches of khakhara-mundis are mainly figures of beautiful women.

View of another wheel. Note the thin spokes have a row of alternate beads and discs, while the broader spokes further near the centre where they become diamond shaped.

Centre of pic shows Narasimha Avatar of Lord Vishnu. Similiar pic found in Halebidu Temple Karnataka. See pic no 35 Click here

Centre of pic shows a lady standing in front of her door. Left is image of man and women while right is only of women. It seems both standing under a tree with lady on the right of pic pulling a branch. Not sure. In case of any errors in captions write back.

Variety of Mithuna (amorous couples) images. The Victorian mind would erupt on seeing such erotic images. To the artist art is amoral. These sculptures cannot be regarded as illustrating the Kama-sastras or Tantric practices. The Brahma Purana mentions Konarak as a place conferring kama (enjoyment) and paragati (liberation) on the worshipper.

Early morning so too much of fog. U see side panel. Big piece of stone in front is that of Simha-Gajas ie lion.

View of panel with Wheel. Lowest level are elephants. Next level are images of ladies, creature with body of horse and face of lion. Top part of panel are mithuna images, sometimes showing more than one partner. Thin recess shows a military procession with elephants, palanquins and soldiers on foot.

Close up view of wheel. Lower image is a Mithuna couple. Upper image looks like a Queen sitting on a bed with maid standing in front.

Centre image. When women got sexually transmitted disease dog to clean. Left to right third image is that of a Mithuna couple but is badly damaged.

Lower part - spoke of wheel. In centre see Mithuna couple. Guide said temples has 128 types of dance poses.

War stallion. There are 2 horses like these. They originally guarded one of 3 staircases, now have been re-installed on new pedestals in the temple complex. The horse with a bejeweled rider (now headless) has a quiver full of arrows and a scabbard for a sword hang down his back. 2 fierce figures are positioned below the horse, one beneath the latter''s body and the other nearly crushed under its hoofs.

Extreme left image is a women giving herself antiseptic treatment as u saw earlier. In niche centre you see image of man catching lady, a close up lady wearing of what looks like big ear rings.

Lower panel has multiple images. Lady carrying something on her head, elephants, men walking with luggage on a animal and men carrying some stuff.

View of wheels - the last ones on northern side of temple. Southern side panel do not make good pics because of less light.

Images in niche centre are of a women standing and two sitting.

Lower panel. In centre of pic animal like face is a common feature across temples - it is to ward away evil and is called Kirti Mukha. See in Kiradu Temples Barmer, Rajasthan. See pic no 36 Click here

West facing panel.

South western view of temple. Earlier there was tall and curvilinear spire or sikhara of the sanctuary estimated height to be between 42.67 and 45.72 metres. Centre of pic u see huge stone - there are three images which you shall see later.

Close up of lower panel. Left to right is elephant, palanquin, warriors on horses. The profusion of the drama of royal hunts and processions and military scenes emphasize the fact that the Sun Temple is the realization of the dazzling dream of an ambitious and mighty King.

Ladies with serpent called Nagakanyas. Centre is Mithuna couple. In niche on right of pic a lady looking at herself in the mirror while applying on her head sindoor or bindi.

Pic from northern side. Temple gets lit in evening. Image on which girls are leaning is a Simha-Gajas.

Left lady is cooking something in pot. Right looks like a bullock cart. Not all sculptures are impressive. In all probability the master-sculptors finished the important sculptures and left the rest to pupils and apprentices.

Top panel Mithuna couples sometimes with multiple partners.

Ladies with serpent round them - Nagakanyas, Mithuna couples. Centre niche image is man with stick on his shoulder from which hang two bags.

Seems like a King in Court. Can someone help with correct caption.

Surya Devata on horse in the southern niche. Surya is believed to course across the sky in a chariot of 7 horses. In the 18th century, the chlorite Aruna-stambha was removed to Puri by the Marathas who planted it in its present site ie in front of the temple of Jagannatha.

Made of chlorite, none of the parsva devatas are within the original framed niches. Representing Surya, all the parsva devatas are sculpted within the conventional norms prescribed for images of gods and deities.

Image of Surya. Very difficult to get a straight pic. Certain alien features (such as boots) seen in Surya images are due to influence of foreigners who came from Central Asia around 1st century A.D.

Top portion of Jagamohana. In the lowest recessed wall are 16 kanyas. They are engaged in adjusting ornaments, wringing their hair, playing dholak etc. Centre of pic 4 headed called Martand Bhairava etc. Top image is face of Simha-Gajas. The kalasa is missing from the crown of the roof.

Entrance eastern side are Simha-Gajas. Guarding southern side were horses that are not placed at entrance now. Guarding northern side are two life-sized elephants. In the trunk is a warrior with a shield.

Pieces of iron kept on display that were used inside temple. Many seductive figures in temple panel, some strangely in sandals, have fascinated generations of tourists.

North western side view. Wheel and panel view with temple above. Frontal half of the eastern architrave is relieved with 9 planets. Missed seeing that. Also missed seeing central panel that has an image of Gaja Lakshmi (Lakshmi bathed by elephants).

In temple recess is this image found all over the temple. Body of a horse, face of a lion.

Top is mithuna couple. On temple southern side is depicted a temple in which are enshrined images of Mahishasuramardini, Jagannatha and a linga. Missed clicking this but they show the co-existence and feeling of tolerance of those belonging to different sects. U can see Mahishasuramardini in Durga Temple Aihole Karnataka pic no 22 Click here

A large Simha-Gajas (lion on elephants) on western side of temple. The doorframe on eastern side is best preserved - do see I missed observing carefully.

To west of main temple is temple Mayadevi that you see. It was reclaimed from sand as late as beginning of the 20th century, is said to be older then main temple. According to locals, the missing image called Ramachandi, is now worshipped in a temple i.e. 8 kms away from Konarak. It was removed when the Muslims overran the temple complex at Konarak. To see pics of Temples of Khajuraho. Click here

Panel in temple shows warriors on horses and foot. On the western side is an interesting niche with a 6 armed bejeweled Nataraja. Missed seeing it. Also missed seeing the Vaishnava Temple - these small temples that proves that worship of deities other than Surya was conducted within the Sun Temple enclosure. To see pics of Sun Temple Almora. Click here

Mithuna couples in Mayadevi temple. To see pics of Bhoramdeo Temple Chhattisgarh. Click here

Procession in palanquin. To see pics of Belur Temples Karnataka. Click here

The is probably the missing roof of the natya mandapa. A beautifully carved stone which probably formed the crowning piece of a ceiling was found besides the bhoga-mandapa. It is conceived in the form of a full-blown lotus. On the projected pericarp presides Surya, sitting cross legged on a seat drawn by 7 horses. Around the pericarp are 8 petals, beyond which is a circle of 16 petals, each containing a dancer. Evidently these figures represent the celestial choristers chanting the eternal glory of the Sun. Intricate details in captions including this one taken from booklet published by the Archaeological Survey of India. To see pics of Sun Temple Modhera in Gujarat. Click here

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