Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.
Konark, a small town located in the Puri, area of Odisha on the east coast of India, is the home to a 800 years old Sun Temple dedicated to the Sun God, a World Heritage Site which is now almost in ruins . The word ‘Konark’ is a combination of two words ‘Kona’ and ‘Arka’. ‘Kona’ means ‘Corner’ and ‘Arka’ means ‘Sun’, so when combines it becomes ‘Sun of the Corner’. It was built in the thirteenth Century by King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty, this Sun Temple in which is also known as “Black Pagoda” due to its dull black color, is outlined as a tremendous chariot underpinned by twenty-four chariot wheels, devoted to the Sun God. Also known as Arka khetra, there are three images of the Sun God at three different sides of the temple, positioned in proper direction to catch the rays of the sun at morning, noon and evening. The Konark temple is widely known not only for its architectural greatness but also for the sophistication and abundance of sculptural work. Konark is an exceptional mixture of marvelous temple architecture, heritage, exotic beach and salient natural beauty.
Narasimhadeva had preferred the place for his proposed temple, for not only enabling him to bring his building materials from different places by the said river, but the sanctity of the was also considered by him. The beauty of the Sun-rise at that place was said to have charmed Narasimhadeva since his early life. The river Chandrabhaga which is now dead, was once flowing within a mile to the north of the temple site and was joining the sea. On its banks, existed flourishing towns and important trading centres. Trade was carried on with foreign countries as well, by sea routes, as there was no better communication other than the river in those days. Besides the sanctity and the favourable surroundings, the presence of majestic sea eternally roaring and rolling within a striking distance, was perhaps an added attraction for them.
This Sun Temple, a symbol of India’s ancient architectural skills was completed in 12 years (1243-1255 AD) with the help of 1200 workers. Beautifully designed as a chariot mounted on 24 wheels, each of diameters about 10 feet decorated by most exquisite stone carvings, and drawn by 7 strong horses, it boasts of India’s rich cultural heritage. The Sun temple follows Odissi style of architecture (except the erotic stone carvings on the walls), however a significant part of the main structure has fallen and it survives just in parts. However, it’s sad to see the present state of this temple which is almost in ruins. Although, the Sun Temple even in its available demolished state, is still a marvel to the entire world.
Erotic art is a topic that richly possesses practically all portions of the Konark Sun temple. The life-size loving couple, the vulgar priests, the ideal female figures in seductive poses along with their killer grins have made Konark a feast for the eyes of the visitors. The stone carvings display many other sites like dancers with musical instruments, beautiful doors, Giraffes eating grapes, camels and Snake God. The pleasure of seeing the flesh in abundance blended with various Kamasutra positions, gives Konark an unrivalled position in the domain of romantic art.
Every year in the month of February, Konark Dance and Music Festival is organized within the temple premises featuring Odissi dancers and sometimes noted musicians.
The 800 years old Sun Temple cannot just be regarded as a landmark of historical importance. It is much more than a world heritage site as it has the potential to amaze the scholars of many schools like Science, Astronomy, Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Construction Engineering. Also it continues to impress artists and poets. In the words of Rabindranath Tagore – “The Language of stone surpasses the language of man here”.
The Sun Temple is a living testimony to the speculative, daring and the artistic sensibility of a human race that once knew how to live, love, worship and create in heroic proportions. Though Konark is turning into a ruin fast, having been empty and untouched for so long, still the magnificence of it’s architecture continues to outgrow itself so beautifully, like green patches all over with flowers above them.