Sun Temple, Konard, Orissa, India

From the book "Synthesis" by piero scaruffi

(Poetry | Wonders | Philosophy | The World | Visual Art)

Sun Temple, Konark, Orissa, India

Built in 1278 CE by the Ganga king Narasimha Deva, the "Sun Temple" at Konark in the Indian state of Orissa is the colossal stone chariot ever built. Like in all great Hindu art, the quantity and quality of details is mind-boggling. Proceeding from the east, one first enters the Naata Mandir, a four-pillared hall sitting on a layered five-meter high platform (decorated with dancing girls) and fronted by two lions killing elephants. This leads to the platform (also five-meter high) of the temple proper (pitha). It is the same platform for both the viman (the temple proper) and the jagamohan (the entrance porch). The most stunning element of the platform are the 24 wheels, each 3-meter high, that are "attached" to it. Coupled with the seven life-size horses, the wheels create the impression of a giant chariot. Each wheel is in itself a marvel of sculpture. Even the spokes and the joints contain sculptures. Not a centimeter of stone is wasted. The porch (jagamohan) of the temple, the highest extant structure (40 meters) is a colossus with a multi-layered roof (notably the four-headed statues of Shiva). The viman of the temple is mostly collapsed but used to be the tallest building in India (70 meters). Three sun deities have survived, each kept inside a crypt. The southern (horses) and northern (elephants) gates create an axis orthogonal to the pitha-mandir axis. The temple was destroyed by Muslim invaders in 1568, and never fully restore to its grandeur. Nonetheless, the ruins rank among the most breathtaking views in the world.

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