Konark: The Location
Situated in eastern Odisha, bordering the Bay of Bengal, 65 km from Bhubneshwar- the capital city, and 35 km from Puri -the holy city, there is a massive temple dedicated to the God of life in real sense, the Sun, and is named Konark Sun Temple; KONARK, a Sanskrit word, made up of Kona-angle, and Arka -Sun.
Konark: A Peek In To Past
Inspite of being called a temple, no pooja is performed here. Currently, the temple is much in ruins, but it doesn’t fail to amaze you with its artistic magnificence and impeccable architecture. It is said that it was intially built on the sea bank but slowly the sea receded. Because it is made up of black granite, it is also called black pagoda, and was used as a navigation landmark by ancient sailors who used to come to Odisha. It was built in 13th century in the reign of king Narsimhadeva by 1200 artisans in a period of 12 years. The structure was initially in the form of a chariot on 24 wheels each 10 feet in diameter drawn by 7 horses. Much of which is gone now.
Konark: A tour Inside
On the entrance of main temple, two giant lions are placed which are atypical in being a mix of indo-chinese. The lions are riding over elephants who in turn are all over two human figurines.
According to our guide’s explanation, the lion is the symbol of power and pride. Elephant represents wealth.The two are shown to overpower man who ultimately is consumed by the two if incapable of finding a balance. The wheels are carved in the wall of the chariot and also serve the purpose of Sun dials. The terminology used however is in ‘paher, ghadi and kshan‘ prevalent in ancient times.
The walls depict countle carvings. Prominent ones which I could make note of are… People exhibiting their daily life, girls looking out of Windows, playing musical instruments, doing makeup in front of the mirror, an aged lady taking leave from her family to go on pilgrimage, mother with child, old women walking with stick etc.
There are strange creatures also; some sort of mosaics. Some images of ‘Vish-kanyas’ i.e. poison-ladies, dev-daasies etc. were also seen. The temple doesn’t give a miss to the erotic art, and you can spot it seamlessly.
The remains of the main temple has three elevated passages in front. It is said that the temple used to have an idol of sun with a diamond in its middle. The moment sun would arise in east, through one of these passages, the first rays would enter the temple, and in turn were reflected by the diamond studded in body. The rays would cross a particular passage as per the position of the Sun- Northward or Southward.
It is said that the idol used to float in air. (Science!!!) But the powerful magnets started interferring with the compasses of the sailors, the idol, therefore, was removed and shifted to a temple in Jagnnath Puri.
The guide, we were given, touched many important points as scientifically as possible. He also threw light on the ritual of using sindoor by Indian women. I would like to share it. You know in our culture it is said and believed that a married woman should wear sindoor on her head parting as long and as often as possible. This is supposed to make her ‘sobhagyawati‘, in simpler terms- she enjoys the company of her husband till she breaths her last. It is deep rooted belief and we all follow it- at least on special occasions we all do if not everyday!
The guide said in ancient times, India was suffering from countless and merciless invasions, the worst affected were the women in general and girls in particular. To be on safer side, people started marrying their daughter pretty early (child-marriage) to the males of mature age who obviously had greater chances of dying early, and Sindoor was thought of as a medium to be used as a slow poison, maximum use of which would help ensure that the husband dies second to his wife, thereby making her ‘sobhagyawati’ (Good-fortuned) till she lives.
It’s difficult to measure the iota of truth or figment in his stories but now we all know sindoor does have lead and mercury, and that my dear, is not at all a good news, as far as the health of the bearer is concerned.
In all, it was a great journey to the place which led to many revelations of the past and sung the glory of Science in connection with the Nature.
**The site has been declared World Heritage in 1984.