Architectural Masterpiece – Konark Temple

The Konark Temple in Orissa, India is one the best ‘Architectural Masterpieces’ I have encountered while traveling across India. Also called the ‘Sun Temple’, this temple was designed in the 13th Century, not only as a salutation to the ‘The Divine Sun God’, which showers its blessings on all living beings alike, but also played a strategic role in preventing various invasions attempted on Indian territory.

The Journey:

I had heard a lot about the ‘Konark Temple’ from my room-mate, who was from Bhubaneshwar. It was not until 2007 that I finally got the opportune moment to visit this place. As I boarded the taxi while I checked out from my hotel room, towards ‘The Sun Temple’, I was able to recollect the words my room mate used to mention about the place; One visit will not be enough for you to decide the secrets it holds.

The Architecture:

 

The temple is in the shape of a horse chariot as viewed from the top. The entry exhibits a remarkable podium on which the ‘Nartakis’ (Dancers) used to pay salutations to the rising sun. The entrance gate faces the exact East and is oriented to receive the ‘First Light’  of the day, through the podium.

At the entrance of the podium, on the either side are giant monuments of three characters- Nara, Gaja, Simha, meaning, the Man, the Elephant and the Lion,  with the man and the bottom, and the lion and the elephant mounted on top of the man. The Elephant symbolizes money or prosperity and the Lion symbolizes power. A lucid indication that, the quest for too much power and prosperity has always led to the destruction of civilizations.

The temple has three sides with three different idols placed on each side, symbolizing three different moods of the Sun God, during the three different periods of the day, morning, afternoon and evening. The placement of the temple is such that during a Pahar ( morning, afternoon, evening) of the day, the idol of a particular period of the day is in exact alignment with the sun, so that the suns rays directly fall on that idol.

Along the periphery of the entire temple are 24 sun dials indicating 24 hrs of the day, each sun dial aligning itself with the exact time of the day as per the watch. The walls of the temple have intricate carvings depicting stories of the ancient Indian culture, symbolizing clearly the liberty our culture enjoyed in the ancient times.

The most fascinating part of the entire structure; no cement used in the structure; The entire temple is made out of stone blocks with metal strips used to anchor 4 blocks together at one place. And what is it that kept this entire structure intact???? A 50 MT spherical magnet on top of the temple. On the far east of the temple is the sea-route entry into India, through Chandrabhaga. The Chandrabhaga is part of the Bay of Bengal sea and a lucrative route for the Europeans for invasion from this side. Only the poor fellows didn’t know what was waiting for them here.

The ships invading from this side used to have errors and deflections in the mariners compasses due to the 50 MT magnet on top of the temple which indicated false horizons to the ships, deflecting them off course several kms, from the main route. It kept the sea farers puzzled and intrigued for a long time, until finally, the Western approach from Goa had to be taken to invade the country.

Konark Temple has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Without an iota of doubt, it speaks volumes about the wisdom and knowledge of the ancient Indian civilization. As for me, it was an introduction to a work of ancient ingenuity and precision.

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