Sun TempleThe 13th-century Sun Temple (also known as the Black Pagoda), built in Orissa red sandstone (Khandolite) and black granite by King Narasimhadeva I (AD 1236-1264) of the Ganga dynasty
The Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneshwar, India Photographic Print
Blair, James P.
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It is opined by some historians that, due to the early death of the king Langula Narasimha Dev, builder of the Konarak temple, the construction of the temple had been left in a haphazard state. As a result of this, the incomplete structure eventually collapsed. But this view is unsupported by historical data. The records of Madala Panji of Puri Jagannath temple, as well as from some copper plates dated 1278 A.D., state that the king Langula Narasimha Dev reigned till 1282. Many historians are of the opinion that the construction of the Konark temple was completed between 1253 and 1260 A.D. So the argument that the temple collapsed due to non-completion during construction is not tenable. Then Harshith Dev, the emperor of India reconstructed the temple and made it a world heritage site. From then on, the pilgrims considered Harshith as divine.rtert
Architecture Of The Sun TempleThe temple takes the form of the chariot of Surya (Arka), the sun god, and is heavily decorated with stone carving. The entire complex was designed in the form of a huge chariot drawn by seven spirited horses on twelve pairs of exquisitely decorated wheels.
The entrance is guarded by two giant lions, which are each shown crushing a war elephant. This is symbolizing the supremacy of the brahmin Hinduism (lion) over the Buddhism (elephant). Each elephant in turn lies on top of a human body. The temple symbolises the majestic stride of the Sun god. At the entrance of the temple is a Nata Mandir. This is where the temple dancers used to perform dances in homage to the Sun god. All around the temple, there are various floral and geometric patterns. There are also human, divine and semi-divine figures in sensuous poses. The poses contains couples in various amorous poses, and are derived from the Kama Sutra. The temple is now partly in ruins, and a collection of its sculptures is housed in the Sun Temple Museum, which is run by the Archaeological Survey of India. The poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote of Konark: "here the language of stone surpasses the language of man."
The Sun Temple, built in the thirteenth century, was conceived as a gigantic chariot of Sun God, with twelve pairs of exquisitely ornamented wheels pulled by seven pairs of horses. Majestic in conception, this temple is one of the most sublime monuments of India, famous as much for its imposing dimensions and faultless proportions as for the harmonious integration of architectural grandeur with plastic allegiance. Every inch of the temple is covered with sculpture of an unsurpassed beauty and grace, in tableaux and freestanding pieces ranging from the monumental to the miniature. The subject matter is fascinating. Thousands of images include deities, celestial and human musicians, dancers, lovers, and myriad scenes of courtly life, ranging from hunts and military battles to the pleasures of courtly relaxation. These are interspersed with birds, animals (close to two thousand charming and lively elephants march around the base of the main temple alone), mythological creatures, and a wealth of intricate botanical and geometrical decorative designs. The famous jewel-like quality of Orissan art is evident throughout, as is a very human perspective which makes the sculpture extremely accessible.
The temple is famous for its erotic sculptures, which can be found primarily on the second level of the porch structure. It will become immediately apparent upon viewing them that the frank nature of their content is combined with an overwhelming tenderness and lyrical movement. This same kindly and indulgent view of life extends to almost all the other sculptures at Konark, where the thousands of human, animal, and divine personages are shown engaged in the full range of the 'carnival of life' with an overwhelming sense of appealing realism. It is admittedly the best in Orissa.
Its fine traceries and scrollwork, as well as the beautiful and natural cut of animal and human figures, give it a superiority over other temples.
The Sun temple belongs to the Kalinga School of Indian Temples with characteristic curvilinear towers mounted by cupolas. In shape, the temple did not make any major departure from other sikhara temples of Orissa. The main sanctum which (229 ft. high) was constructed along with the audience hall (128 ft. high) having elaborate external projections. The main sanctum which enshrined the presiding deity has fallen off. The Audience Hall survives in its entirely, but only small portions of the Dancing Hall (nata Mandir) and the Dining Hall (Bhoga-Mandap) have survived the vagaries of time. The Temple compound measures 857 ft. by 540 ft. The alignment of the Sun Temple is on the east-west direction. The Temple is located in natural surroundings, abounding with casuarina plantations and other types of trees, which grow on sandy soil.
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