Friday, March 9, 2012

THE MAJESTIC SUN-TEMPLE OF KONARK - 1

THE BIGGEST 'CHARIOT' ON THE EARTH - 1

Firmly bricked in the earth 
Stands the mould, fired from clay. 
Today the bell shall be. 
Quickly, workers, be at hand. 
   From the forehead hot 
   The sweat must run, 
If the creation shall praise the master,
But the blessing comes from on-high.
                                                     - Song of the Bell
                                                            Friedrich von Schiller

( May I request the viewer to kindly click on the photo of the chariot and view it full-size to appreciate the spread of the chariot, a fraction of which is captured here.)


Front-side of Sun-temple.
We can see 3 of the 12 pairs of wheels which drive the god's chariot.
Among the 4 horses in this side,  hardly 2 remain.
( far right-hand top of this photo)

Is this how the Sun temple complex look like ?
Source - ASI Museum,Konark.

We have visited Konark's Sun temple twice earlier  - this visit in February, 2012 brought glimpses of  inner character of this temple to the fore. Looking back, it seems that we did not spend enough time earlier in this temple. During this visit, we  walked into the  compound before the scheduled sunrise hour when a pail of mist was hanging on the top of the Jagamohan ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/cshyamal/6900022783) . After a couple of hours, sun light kissed the temple and we continued here till the mid-day, clicking to our hearts' content. We returned before the sunset and went around , climbed up and down till we were exhausted. The huge Jagomohan, lit up with amber and blue lights, appeared  to be hanging from darkness of the the sky .

  128' high Jagomohan rises beyond the roofless Bhoga-Mandapa.



Who is the rider of this lion trampling an elephant ?
 Is he the 'Langula' King ?

We did not go to Konark very well-prepared  - that was a mistake. But, we visited the local Museum which we did not cover in our earlier visits.Thus, it was one mistake less.I would say our experience and photos and my subsequent browsing helped me to love this majestic piece of architecture a lot more than earlier times. I mostly keep out my own emotion out of the text of my blogs - but not in this one.

 'Poosha' - morning Sun, as viewed from the ground level.  
This chlorite statue adorns the east-wall of the broken deul.
ASI  has placed the statue in such a way that a full view 
is impossible from any level.(*2)

 The first impact is that of its enormity . What remains of this  majestic structure is amazing. Konark's deul, which has been lost  was taller than the tallest of the 'Gopurams' of Meenakshi temple, Madurai,more than double of Chittorgarh's Vijayastambha and less than 10' shorter than its  another near-contemporary   world-famous  Indian architecture - Qutab Minar.(*1)

Mythical elephant with lion's claws tramples a soldier 
equipped with a shield and sword !

Though   Sun temple of Konark draw a lot of attention for its erotic wall-reliefs, what impressed me most among the wall-reliefs and sculptures are the war stallions and the elephants.  I was impressed by these sculptures during my earlier visits too.  I read a comparison between these war stallions and that of  the statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni. The war stallion of  Colleoni  (Venice, Italy) is famous , but apart from the  exposure, in artistic merit, are not the stallions of Konark   superior to that of  Colleni's statue ?

   Awe-inspiring  heavily decorated war stallion.
Surely a dear one of the Monarch among the prized collection  
of Kalinga kingdom.

When king Langula Narasimhadeva I  planned this temple , he had quite a few points in his mind .First is its enormity - both height and size - his temple had to be among the tallest among the existing monuments.   An interesting calculation would be estimate cubic feet of stones used  in various monuments and compare. Well - I find no such data available. Secondly, he conveyed a message  to Buddhists through lions overpowering elephants. Was his enormous wheels of Sun's chariot a score over Ashoka's 'Dharmachakra' ?

 The Divine Wheel of Time - 'Kaal Chakra' - rolls among the daily activities - procreation,survival and annihilation - of  human society.

The third point  - in my opinion - was his message to his subjects - they must multiply to tackle the military pressure against Kalinga. Kalinga had suffered a huge population depletion at the hand of Ashoka. Thereafter, there was no peace. During the rule of King Anantavarman , the founder of  Ganga dynasty to which Narasimhadeva belonged, Kalinga suffered a huge thrashing from the Cholas though the royalties of these two states were closely related. Narasimhadeva I was engaged in battles with Muslims of Bengal. A famous religious leader allowed  menfolks among his followers to practice polygamy  and encouraged widows' marriage to tackle loss of able-bodied male members of the society. I wonder if the King of Kalinga encouraged  his subjects   to be more sexually active with propagation and multiplication  in mind! Here, the message was not only to young,virile  and family-men , but also to those were not so  young and those who were out traditional family set-up.

Dance of life
A  beautiful pillar of Bhoga- Mandapa

 I shall continue my presentation on Sun temple of Konark in coming blogs. The chronicle of royal life,  deities, dancers  and musicians , mythical animals and the 'grotesque' and 'acts of love'  - I would like to share the memories we have brought with us.

NOTES :
1. Sun temple : Height - 229'. Completion  around 1253-60 AD,
Qutub Minar - Height - 237.8'. Commencement   around 1194 AD, repaired by Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351-88 AD) and Sikandar Lodi ( 1489-1517 AD).
2.  Among all the idols discovered from this temple site, 3 - all of Sun god - have  been retained. Rest are in Delhi. There are conflicting claims regarding the  main idol . But, it is confirmed that these sculptures were placed originally on the side-walls of the deul.

3 comments:

dr siva said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LET US STAY CONNECTED said...

Regret comment of Dr Shiva was removed inadvertently !

His comment contained a word of appreciation - even otherwise, I avoid deleting a comment.

dimpy roy said...

Good post. House to the famous Sun Temple and the festival of the same name, the small locale of Konark (Konarka) (Konark (Konarka)a) is an extravaganza that comes in a small package. Explore more about Konark Sun Temple.