The Konark Sun Temple - Celebration of Life

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  "Except for life there is no other God..." Imagine a temple built to worship life, a temple built to joyously celebrate life itself, this temple would look like the Sun temple of Konark. As Tagore describes it "here the language of stone surpasses the language of man" Image Built in the 13th century this gigantic chariot of the Sun God has 12 pairs of wheels on which it rests. Image Image Image The lowest level, is decorated with sculptures of animals and trees - that my guide said was for the benefit of educating / entertaining children. Image The upper level has sculptures of gods & goddesses - the guide said it was for the elderly. And the middle section consists of erotica to educate the young householders. Sounds logical! The magnificence of this temple is impossible to capture in even a thousand photographs or videos. And one would have to spend at least a whole week to soak in the art on all of the walls of the temple exterior. The erotica presented taught me a few things that I had not imagined possible. Yet even these barrier breaking scenes have been presented sensuously as perfectly melodious & harmonious union of souls making even these carvings works of art. Legend has it that, the uniqueness of the temple lies in the fact that between every two stone pieces there lies an iron plate. This fantastic effort in human perseverance took 1200 architects about 12 years to complete and that the ’’Dadhinauti’’ (Peak) of the main temple had to be installed by the 12 year old son Dharmapada Moharana of the Chief Architect Bishu Moharana. This  peak was a 52 ton magnet. The magnet held the beams in place and that allowed the structure to endure the harsh conditions of the Orissa coast that faces several cyclones,  for centuries without being affected. Image The main pratima (idol) was believed to be floating in the air because of the unique arrangements of the main magnets and other series of magnets. The placement of the temple had been aligned in a way that the first rays of the Sun falling on the coast would pass through the Nata Mandir and would reflect from the diamond placed at the center of this idol in the Main Sanctum.This phenomena would last for a couple of minutes during the early morning. These magnets were later removed by the Britishers for acquiring the magnetic stone, Another legend states that, the magnetic effects of the lodestone was so strong that it disturbed the ships compasses that passed by the coast and the ships would run aground. To save their trade and their ships, the Portuguese took away the lodestone. The lodestone that was acting as the central stone and keeping all the stones of the temple well balanced, fell out of alignment because of its removal and eventually led to the destruction of main sactum.

History does not have any certain answers on who did this.

But the fact remains that today, this feat of architecture, mathematics, science and art stands completely destroyed internally.The door to the interiors is sealed. Image Not because of earthquakes or natural calamities. But because of the unforgivable destructive streak of the people who mindlessly removed the magnet.  How does Karma account for such destruction? What is the consolation for those who face the loss? A celebration of life turns into a place of lament & loss! More pictures of a great work of art! Salute to the 13th century "backward" "undeveloped" architects & artists!

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jm June 2013


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