Tuesday, July 10, 2012



Mythical lion on southern side - lit up during the evening.

Closer view of mythical lions on northern side. 
Looks like those from a film by Spielberg !
Elephants trampled & mauled not in this view.

Surya temple of Konark is an enormous gallery of sculpture and wall-reliefs. Deities & mythology, royalty, various moods and moments of life , floral designs and arabesque ..... and animals - both mythical and real. The variations are enormous. It takes days to chronicle the same -  and no matter how hard I try - how can I translate the wonder that these creations evoke - in photos and words ! Planning, execution, display and restoration - all are in such  large scales that on any of these topics, one can write a book .

 'Brihadashwa' rides out to horizon  !
 Surya on the western side of the temple.

 Very recently, a friend of mine who enjoys photography visited Surya temple together with his family. On his return, he sat with us and  shared his  album and stories of his visit  with us. He narrated how his young son was very much impressed -  may be we call him 'beholden' - by the abundance of animals' depictions  in this Surya temple  - then I thought : why not write a 'post' on photos from our album on this subject - in line with the one I wrote about  those from Lakundi temples !

Konark, even Orissa, is often represented by  the famous war stallions near the eastern edge of the temple compound.  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 ?

  Horse is the central  figure in this composition where Man without his sandals or the one getting trampled under the horse's hoofs 
add to its statement on a battle scene.

 What we have are enormous mythical lions mauling elephants - perhaps denoting power of one religious group above another -  horses,mythical horses and horses , rows of  elephants on temple wall as well as elephants on pedestals. And a lone giraffe brought to king's court as a gift !! On strength of this wall-relief , Historians believe that travelers from Africa visited King NarasimhaDev's court. 

Tier - I  : King on elephant where a  delegation meets him 
with gifts including a giraffe.
Tier - II : A hunting scene.

Elephants are everywhere : the lowest row has elephants as if they are carrying the load of the temple.There are  elephants high above giving company to 'chlorite' musicians. One cannot see them from ground level - need a pair of binoculars.Elephants are parts of war and hunting scenes. The most forceful are the sculptures of a pair of elephants mauling humans  placed near the western  edge of the temple compound. 
Note - This location, according to an opinion I have read, is not the original one and decided upon during reconstruction and start of landscaping. I believe that two stallions on the eastern edge and two elephants on the western look quite pleasing.

The Mighty  &  the Hapless .

In contrast to the above, we have several scenarios where mythical lions , hunters on lions, horses and composites are crushing elephants. Symbolic  scenes as these are, the vigour exuded hit a viewer hard. The choice is very difficult  - just one representative wall-relief  is here.

 Unbelievable as  this wall-relief is - lion fitted with bridle. 
Rider makes the lion pounce upon a cowering elephant.

Note - This has an underlying social  meaning - left out without elaboration.

 I shall end with a scene of procession , a 'must' for wall reliefs in Indian temples.  These procession scenes are not often  noticed or analysed seriously. Perhaps visitors feel that these are work of not-so-skilled artisans.Here, what is noticeable are the effort on creating variations.


rintesh said...

Great efforts! Thanks for sharing your views.


Thanks for appreciation !