कोणार्क सूर्य मंदिर

( Konark Sun Temple )

Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century CE (year 1250) Sun temple at Konark about 35 kilometres (22 mi) northeast from Puri city on the coastline in Puri district, Odisha, India. The temple is attributed to king Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga dynasty about 1250 CE.

Dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya, what remains of the temple complex has the appearance of a 100-foot (30 m) high chariot with immense wheels and horses, all carved from stone. Once over 200 feet (61 m) high, much of the temple is now in ruins, in particular the large shikara tower over the sanctuary; at one time this rose much higher than the mandapa that remains. The structures and elements that have survived are famed for their intricate artwork, iconography, and themes, including erotic kama and mithuna scenes. Also called the Surya Devalaya, it is a classic illustration of the Odisha style of Architecture or Kalinga architecture....Read more

Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century CE (year 1250) Sun temple at Konark about 35 kilometres (22 mi) northeast from Puri city on the coastline in Puri district, Odisha, India. The temple is attributed to king Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga dynasty about 1250 CE.

Dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya, what remains of the temple complex has the appearance of a 100-foot (30 m) high chariot with immense wheels and horses, all carved from stone. Once over 200 feet (61 m) high, much of the temple is now in ruins, in particular the large shikara tower over the sanctuary; at one time this rose much higher than the mandapa that remains. The structures and elements that have survived are famed for their intricate artwork, iconography, and themes, including erotic kama and mithuna scenes. Also called the Surya Devalaya, it is a classic illustration of the Odisha style of Architecture or Kalinga architecture.

The cause of the destruction of the Konark temple is unclear and still remains a source of controversy. Theories range from natural damage to deliberate destruction of the temple in the course of being sacked several times by Muslim armies between the 15th and 17th centuries. This temple was called the "Black Pagoda" in European sailor accounts as early as 1676 because it looked like a great tiered tower which appeared black. Similarly, the Jagannath Temple in Puri was called the "White Pagoda". Both temples served as important landmarks for sailors in the Bay of Bengal. The temple that exists today was partially restored by the conservation efforts of British India-era archaeological teams. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, it remains a major pilgrimage site for Hindus, who gather here every year for the Chandrabhaga Mela around the month of February.

Konark Sun Temple is depicted on the reverse side of the Indian currency note of 10 rupees to signify its importance to Indian cultural heritage.

 
Konark Sun Temple panoramic view
Konark in texts

Konark, also referred to in Indian texts by the name Kainapara, was a significant trading port by the early centuries of the common era.[1] The current Konark temple dates to the 13th century, though evidence suggests that a sun temple was built in the Konark area by at least the 9th century.[2] Several Puranas mention Surya worship centers in Mundira, which may have been the earlier name for Konark, Kalapriya (Mathura), and Multan (now in Pakistan).[3] The Chinese Buddhist pilgrim and traveler

According to the Madala Panji, there was at one time another temple in the region built by Pundara Kesari. He may have been Puranjaya, the 7th-century ruler of the Somavamshi dynasty.[4]

Construction

The current temple is attributed to Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga dynasty, r. 1238–1264 CE– . It is one of the few Hindu temples whose planning and construction records written in Sanskrit in the Odia script have been preserved in the form of palm leaf manuscripts that were discovered in a village in the 1960s and subsequently translated.[5] The temple was sponsored by the king, and its construction was overseen by Shiva Samantaraya Mahapatra. It was built near an old Surya temple. The sculpture in the older temple's sanctum was re-consecrated and incorporated into the newer larger temple. This chronology of temple site's evolution is supported by many copper plate inscriptions of the era in which the Konark temple is referred to as the "great cottage".[6]

According to James Harle, the temple as built in the 13th century consisted of two main structures, the dance mandapa and the great temple (deul). The smaller mandapa is the structure that survives; the great deul collapsed sometime in the late 16th century or after. According to Harle, the original temple "must originally have stood to a height of some 225 feet (69 m)", but only parts of its walls and decorative mouldings remain.[7]

Damage and ruins  A lithography plate from James Fergusson's "Ancient Architecture in Hindoostan" (1847) showing part of the main tower still standing

The temple was in ruins before its restoration. Speculation continues as to the cause of the destruction of the temple. Early theories stated that the temple was never completed and collapsed during construction. This is contradicted by textual evidence and evidence from inscriptions. The Kenduli copper plate inscription of 1384 CE from the reign of Narasimha IV seems to indicate that the temple was not only completed but an active site of worship. Another inscription states that various deities in the temple were consecrated, also suggesting that construction of the temple had been completed.[8] A non-Hindu textual source, the Akbar-era text Ain-i-Akbari by Abul Fazl dated to the 16th century, mentions the Konark temple,[6] describing it as a prosperous site with a temple that made visitors "astonished at its sight", with no mention of ruins.[8][9][10] 200 years later, during the reign of the Marathas in Odisha in the 18th century, a Maratha holy man found the temple abandoned and covered in overgrowth. The Marathas relocated the temple's Aruna stambha (pillar with Aruna the charioteer seated atop it) to the Lion's Gate entrance of the Jagannath Temple in Puri.

Texts from the 19th century do mention ruins, which means the temple was damaged either intentionally or through natural causes sometime between 1556 and 1800 CE. After the Sun Temple ceased to attract faithful, Konark became deserted, left to disappear in dense forests for years.[11]

According to Thomas Donaldson, evidence suggests that the damage and the temple's ruined condition can be dated to between the late 16th century and the early 17th century from the records of various surveys and repairs found in early 17th-century texts. These also record that the temple remained a site of worship in the early 17th century. These records do not state whether the ruins were being used by devotees to gather and worship, or part of the damaged temple was still in use for some other purpose.[12]

Aruna Stambha

In the last quarter of the 18th century, the Aruna stambha (Aruna pillar) was removed from the entrance of Konark temple and placed at the Singha-dwara (Lion's Gate) of the Jagannath temple in Puri by a Maratha Brahmachari named Goswain (or Goswami).[13][14] The pillar, made of monolithic chlorite, is 33 feet 8 inches (10.26 m) tall and is dedicated to Aruna, the charioteer of the Sun god.[14]

Preservation efforts  Watercolour painting of two European officers with a dog exploring the interior, 1812

In 1803 the East India Marine Board requested the Governor General of Bengal that conservation efforts be undertaken. However, the only conservation measure put in place at the time was to prohibit further removal of stones from the site. Lacking structural support, the last part of the main temple still standing, a small broken curved section, collapsed in 1848.[15] The main temple is completely lost now.[16]

The then-Raja of Khurda, who had jurisdiction over this region in the early 19th century, removed some stones and sculptures to use in a temple he was building in Puri. A few gateways and some sculptures were destroyed in the process.[17] In 1838 the Asiatic Society of Bengal requested that conservation efforts be undertaken, but the requests were denied, and only measures to prevent vandalism were put in place.[15]

In 1859 the Asiatic Society of Bengal proposed, and in 1867 attempted to relocate an architrave of the Konark temple depicting the navagraha to the Indian Museum in Calcutta. This attempt was abandoned as funds had run out.[15] In 1894 thirteen sculptures were moved to the Indian Museum. Local Hindu population objected to further damage and removal of temple ruins. The government issued orders to respect the local sentiments.[15] In 1903, when a major excavation was attempted nearby, the then-Lieutenant governor of Bengal, J. A. Bourdillon, ordered the temple to be sealed and filled with sand to prevent the collapse of the Jagamohana. The Mukhasala and Nata Mandir were repaired by 1905.[8][18]

 Sound and light show in Konark Temple

In 1906 casuarina and punnang trees were planted facing the sea to provide a buffer against sand-laden winds.[15] In 1909 the Mayadevi temple was discovered while removing sand and debris.[15] The temple was granted World Heritage Site status by the UNESCO in 1984.[19]

On 8 September 2022, the ASI started removing the sand from Jagamohana which will be completed in three years. The necessary support of stainless steel beams will be installed inside the temple and repairs will be carried out.[16]

^ Helaine Selin (2008). Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Springer. p. 1731. ISBN 978-1-4020-4559-2. Archived from the original on 9 August 2019. Retrieved 2 August 2013. ^ Linda Kay Davidson; David Martin Gitlitz (2002). Pilgrimage: From the Ganges to Graceland : an Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 318. ISBN 978-1-57607-004-8. Archived from the original on 2 January 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2013. ^ John M. Rosenfield (1967). The Dynastic Arts of the Kushanas. [Mit Faks.]. University of California Press. p. 195. GGKEY:0379L32LPNJ. Archived from the original on 2 January 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2013. ^ "Konark Sun Temple: Introduction". Archaeological Survey of India. Archived from the original on 20 May 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2013. ^ Boner, Alice; Dāsa, Rājendra Prasāda; Rath Śarmā, Sadāśiva (1972), New light on the Sun Temple of Koṇārka: four unpublished manuscripts relating to construction history and ritual of this temple, Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office ^ a b Cite error: The named reference Ramaswami1971p161 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ James C. Harle (1994). The Art and Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent. Yale University Press. pp. 251–254. ISBN 978-0-300-06217-5. Archived from the original on 21 February 2017. Retrieved 9 November 2017. ^ a b c "Konarak, Conservation". Archaeological Survey of India. Archived from the original on 9 August 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013. ^ Dr. Benudhar Patra (April 2006). "Antiquity of Arkakshetra Konark" (PDF). Orissa Review. Government of Odisha. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 27 July 2013. ^ Thomas Donaldson (2005). Konark. Oxford University Press. pp. 1–3. ISBN 978-0-19-567591-7. Archived from the original on 9 August 2019. Retrieved 9 November 2017. ^ Mahendra Narayan Behera (2003). Brownstudy on Heathenland: A Book on Indology. University Press of America. pp. 146–147. ISBN 978-0-7618-2652-1. Archived from the original on 9 August 2019. Retrieved 9 November 2017. ^ Thomas Donaldson (2005). Konark. Oxford University Press. pp. 16–28. ISBN 978-0-19-567591-7. Archived from the original on 9 August 2019. Retrieved 9 November 2017. ^ Narayan Miśra (2007). Annals and Antiquities of the Temple of Jagannātha. Sarup & Sons. p. 19. ISBN 978-81-7625-747-3. Archived from the original on 9 August 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2013. ^ a b Prajna Paramita Behera (June 2004). "The Pillars of Homage toLord Jagannatha" (PDF). Orissa Review. Government of Odisha. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 1 August 2013. ^ a b c d e f "Konark Conservation". Government of Odisha. Archived from the original on 8 March 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2013. ^ a b Barik, Satyasundar (9 September 2022). "After a century, ASI starts removing sand from Konark Sun Temple". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 9 September 2022. ^ N. S. Ramaswami (1971). Indian Monuments. Abhinav Publications. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-89684-091-1. Archived from the original on 9 August 2019. Retrieved 2 August 2013. ^ Sandeep Mishra (10 July 2010). "The Sun Temple of Orissa". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 30 December 2011. Retrieved 27 July 2013. ^ Cite error: The named reference unesco was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
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