Sun Temple of Konarak 


 But the one which surpasses them all in fame, the masterpiece of medieval Orissan temple art is the Surya temple or the Black Pagoda at Konark. The name Black Pagoda comes from the oxidising ferrogenous sandstone which makes its magnificent dark silhouette stand out against the vast beach on the Bay of Bengal. Conceived as a gigantic stone manifestation of the Sun God's chariot, it was built during the reign of Narasimhadeva I (mid thirteenth century). Twelve giant wheels are carved into the plinth and the chariot body is preceded by seven sculptured horses, held in rein by the half bodied lord of dawn, Aruna. The beauty of Indian medieval temple art lies in the fact that mortar was seldom used and courses of stone were held together only on gravity as prescribed by the Shastras. The Jagmohan with the pyramidal roof survives intact and is preceded eastwards by a separate Nata mandir or dancing hall both of which are covered with a filigree of superb sculptures which include hosts of erotic sculptures indicating that it may have been a centre for a Tantrik cult. Yet the erotica essentially remains an enigma. Also notable are the rows of female musicians who symbolically provided music to announce the auspicious arrival of the Sun God's chariot through the heavens. The life-size sculpture of the god Surya is done in green chlorite and stands classically plain, clearly attributing it's viable art style to the Pala-Sena sculpture, with a trefoil -arch motif coming from Kashmir . Another intricately carved sculpture of the king Narsimhadeva-1, the builder of this shrine, along with two miniature shrines of the Lord Vishnu add to the fascination of this shrine.



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Arts Indian Atelier 1999-2000