Konark: World Heritage Wonder
The Sun temple at Konark was the culmination of 600 odd years of evolution of Kalinga School of Architecture where the dimensions, proportions and elements are in perfect harmony and seamlessly synchronise the artistic elegance with architectural composition . The magnificent temple was commissioned in the 13th Century AD by the then king Narasimha Dev of Ganga dynasty and took twelve hundred craftsmen, under the leadership of chief architect Bisu Moharana, twelve years to build the spectacular temple.
The temple was built as an expansive chariot of the Sun God with twelve pairs of exquisitely carved wheels dragged by seven horses. The nata mandir (ceremonial hall) of the temple is detached from the main temple structure. The name Konark comprises of two words "Kona" which means corner and 'Arka" meaning Sun, translating to the "Corner of the Sun". The Konark wheel is the primary attraction of the temple. The wheels of the chariot have exquisite carvings around their axles and peripheries and have been interpreted as the 'Sun Dial'. If you happen to hire a guide he will surprise you by telling you the exact time by calculating the shadows and sunlight on the wheels. The scope, conception and perfection is a statement of the glorious era of the Kalinga Empire. The intricate and proportionate carvings ranging from sculptures of various Gods to dainty female figures of matchless charm gives an invaluable window to the way of life of the people of that period.
Legend of Konark
Konark has some legends and myths associated with it. According to Hindu legend , it is believed, Lord Krishna's cursed his son Samba and he was inflicted by leprosy. Samba came to the shores of Chandrabhaga beach and prayed to the Sun God Surya to cure him of his ailment. The Sun God heard his prayers and cured him. Samba is believed to have constructed the original temple over which the current temple has been rebuilt.
Myth of Konark
The most popular myth associated with the temple is that it encompassed a huge 53 ton magnet which held the corner stone and the temple structure together. There was another smaller magnet inserted at the foundation which made the idol of the Sun God oscillate in the air. However historians have found no record to corroborate the use of magnets in temple architecture of that era. Moreover the podium on which the statue of Sun God was consecrated bears clear impressions of the statue being placed firmly on it. Currently due to the dilapidated state of the Sanctum entry is banned.
The Sun Temple at Konark when it was constructed was right inside the sea. Currently it stands on a landmass as the sea has receded. The other endearing story associated with the temple is that of young boy Dharmapada. He was the son of Bisu Moharana, the chief architect of Konark Temple. Bisu Moharana left home when Dharmapada was still in his mother’s womb. The young boy grew up in the absence of his father and started to miss him. When he was old enough to travel, he requested his mother to grant him permission to go and meet his father. On reaching the temple construction site, young Dharmapada found his father in a pensive mood. On asking about it, Bisu Moharana told his son that the King frustrated by the repeated failure of placing the cornerstone on the temple had issued an order to behead all the craftsmen if they can’t successfully complete the work within a couple of days. Concerned young Dharmapada started to work with his father in an effort to solve the problem. To the astonishment of all, the young boy solved the problem. The team weary of twelve years of exhausting labour was elated, however soon the realisation dawned on them that if the King found out that a twelve year old boy solved a problem where twelve hundred master craftsmen failed, their fate would be sealed. Dharmapada realised the gravity of the situation and jumped to his death from top of the temple, thus saving all the workers and craftsmen. The Konark Museum located near the temple houses fallen architectural pieces and sculptures that were found during the clearance work of Konark temple complex.
Konark Dance Festival organised every year on the open air auditorium in the backdrop of the majestic Sun temple is one of the most prestigious classical dance festivals in the country. The dance festival is held between 1st Dec to 5th Dec every year. Talented dancers and their troupes from across the world perform Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Kathak, Manipuri, Mohiniattam, Chhau and other tribal, folk and classical dance forms on the fascinating stage of the Konark Natyashala.