The sun temple, built in the 13th century, is located on the Bay of Bengal. The complex was planned in the form of a processional float of the sun god Surya flanked by stone elephants.
Konarak Sun Temple: Facts
|Official title:||Konarak Sun Temple|
|Cultural monument:||a jewel among the religious Indian buildings in the “place of the sun”, so the translation of “Konarak”; Erected by 1200 stonemasons and master builders, also known as the »Black Pagoda of Orissa«, a »stone processional float of the sun god« flanked by stone elephants, 24 almost 3 m high wagon wheels with 8 spokes as the base of the Surya temple, sun chariot pulled by seven horses|
|Location:||Konarak, southwest of Kolkata (Calcutta)|
|Meaning:||the chariot of the sun god turned to stone, one of the most famous Hindu monuments of the 13th century.|
Konarak Sun Temple: History
|Middle of the 13th century||Construction of the temple complex under King Narasimha Deva I.|
|as early as the 14th century||Disintegration of the place of worship and subsequent collapse of the 80 m high temple tower|
Pulsating joie de vivre in honor of the sun god
“There’s a sun-consecrated temple not far from Jagannath. Its construction costs correspond to the total provincial income of 12 years. Even the most critical visitor is overwhelmed by the sight of this temple. «That has not changed to this day Century wrote down.
To this day, the question of why and for what purpose this archaic monument was erected here, far from any major settlement and in close proximity to the sea, remains unanswered. According to cheeroutdoor, as usual in myth-shrouded India, a legend has grown up around the history of the temple’s origins. Then Samba, the beautiful son of Krishna, was cursed by his father and beaten with leprosy because he had secretly watched his stepmother bath. It was not until some time later that Krishna found out that his son had been the victim of an intrigue. The envious snake Naga had lured Samba into a trap after he had teased her about her ugly appearance. Krishna was heartbroken when he learned this and advised his son to turn to the sun god Surya, who was also revered as a healer of diseases. It took Surya twelve years to answer his requests and to free him from his ailments by bathing in the Sea of Konarak. In gratitude for this miraculous healing, Samba had the temple of the sun built there. This legend is not particularly original, as it is also told elsewhere in order to exaggerate the importance of sacred buildings. Far less romantic, but much more likely is the assumption that King Narasimha Deva I had the temple built to document his victory against the Muslim conquerors advancing from the west.
Some archaeologists doubt whether the originally 80 meter high temple tower had even been completed, as the sandy ground could hardly have held the huge structure. In any case, the decay began as early as the 14th century, which is why the main god image was brought to the Jagannath temple in Puri, a good 30 kilometers away. Over the centuries the temple tower collapsed, previously known to seafarers as the “Black Pagoda” and which had served as an important navigational aid.
The temple is not only colossal and richly ornamented, but also follows a unique construction principle that cannot be found in any other temple: The sanctuary is designed in the form of a 24-wheeled processional float for the sun god Surya, drawn by seven horses. Although the temple plinth was buried under masses of sand over the centuries because of the enormous weight on it, this later turned out to be a stroke of luck, as the unique stone reliefs were preserved. The almost three meter high wagon wheels that surround the base of the temple are impressive. Every inch of these eight-spoke wheels is filigree stone carving. The relief friezes surrounding the temple are both a kaleidoscope of medieval life and the microcosm of the Hindu world. Gods, musicians, Dancers and couples in love are an expression of the diversity of life. The sight of the dance hall leaves a special impression, the walls of which are decorated with an immense number of musicians and dancers. Although over seven centuries have passed since the temple was built, the figures have lost none of their original vitality. The walls seem to vibrate to the rhythm of the music and movement. In view of this “joie de vivre in stone”, the fate of the temple dancers, the so-called “devadasis”, originally worshiped as the rebirth of heavenly nymphs, must appear depressing. They lost more and more prestige as the majority of them hired themselves out as temple prostitutes.