Konark Sun Temple – UNESCO World Heritage Site
The site was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1984
As the name suggests Konark Sun temple is in Konark, Orissa.
Built by King Narasimhadeva I of Eastern Ganga Dynasty
In 1984, the Sun Temple Konark was inscribed by UNESCO in the World Heritage List… click here..
World Heritage Monument: Sun Temple, Konark
Sun temple, Konark has been inscribed upon the World Heritage list of the Convention concerning the protection of the World Cultural and Natural heritage. Inscription in this list confirms the exceptional value of a cultural or natural site which deserves protection for the benefir of the humanity.
The temple is dedicated to the Sun god Surya. It was also called the Black Pagoda by European sailors. In contrast, the Jagannath Temple in Puri was called the White Pagoda. Both temples served as important landmarks for the sailors. The temple was originally built at the mouth of the river Chandrabhaga, but the waterline has receded since then.
The temple has been built in the form of a giant ornamented chariot of the Sun god, Surya. It has twelve pairs of elaborately carved stone wheels and is pulled by a set of seven horses [4 on the right and 3 on the left]. The 24 wheels, [some of which are 3 meters wide] and lavishly sculptured with symbolic motives referring to the cycle of the seasons and the months. The wheels, plinth and walls of the temple are elaborately decorated with reliefs of deities, musicians and dancers, erotic groups, mythical beasts and floral patterns.
Like many Indian temples, Konârak comprises three distinct and well-organized spatial units – Vimana, Jagmohana and Natmandir – and various subsidiary structures. The Vimana [principal sanctuary] was surmounted by a lofty Shikar [spire], now lost. To the east, is the Jahamogana [front porch / audience hall] which is pyramidal shaped and now dominates the ruins. Further to the east, is the Natmandir [dance hall], on a high platform. Its roof has been destroyed. There are various subsidiary structures that are still to be found within the temple complex.
The Konark Sun Temple is famous for erotic sculptures on temple walls. There are relief sculptures depicting polygamy, polyandry, lesbianism, bestiality and various erotic poses. Many explanations have been offered, like: erotic sculptures as symbolic of the illusory world of pleasure in contrast to the solemn character of the inner side of the sanctuary; and another explanation is that the ecstasy in sexual love was compared to religious ecstasy derived in merging of the human soul with the ultimate reality.. More of such conjectural explanations on erotic sculptures on temple walls can be found on the webpage of the Archeological Survey of India, “Mithuna” sculptures.. click here...
Destruction of the temple: Many explanations have been offered. The most popular theory is that the temple was destroyed by the Kalapahad [Black Mountain] Muslim general of Mughal governor Sultan Sulaiman Karrani. He destroyed a number of Hindu temples in Orissa including the Konark temple. He managed to displace the Dadhinauti [Arch stone] causing the tower to collapse. He also damaged many sculptures in the temple.
Another theory is that the temple was help together by various magnets. There were two primary magnets: one at the top and one at the base of the temple. The idol of the Sun God was kept suspended in air because of these magnets. The magnets were so powerful that they disrupted the compass of the ships going through the route [Konark was a port city]. So Portuguese removed the main magnet or lodestone which lead to the collapse of most of the temple structure. But it is also said that there is no record in history, nor has got any proof, about the existence of such a powerful load stone on the temple top.
Whatever the cause of destruction, the temple was abandoned by the 18th century and remained buried under a mound of sand. It was discovered by British archeologist and its restoration began in the 20th century. In 1984, it was inscribed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
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