About the Book
The Sun temple of Konark in Orissa, also famous as the Black pagoda, is undoubtedly one of the finest monument where the vitality and spirit of a bygone creative age in its life like sculptures. It has been declared as a World Heritage Monument for its outstanding universal value to humanity.
The author Prof. Karuna Sagar Behera, an archaeologist and historian of repute has written this book with broad objective to discuss all aspects of Konark, its mythology, history, architecture, sculpture and conservation etc. It is hoped that this concise narrative and the photo plates will help all those who want to know Konark in the poper perspective
The Sun temple of Konark in Orissa, once famous as the Black
Pagoda, is undoubtedly one of the finest monuments of mankind. But
sadly, however, this great temple, built in the mid thirteenth century, is
now in ruins. In 1626 it was already deserted and worship had ceased.
The main temple, which was even higher than the jagamohana or
vestibule, gradually disintegrated and its remaining fragment was
brought down by a strong gale in October, 1848. Its magnificent wheels
remained underneath the sand in the 19th century. The jagamohana
remains more or less intact, even that has been filled with sand in 1903
by the order of J.A. Baurdillon, then Lieutenant governor of Bengal, as
this was considered to be the only way to preserve the monument. The
natamandira or dance hall of the temple is without its superstructure.
Even in ruins, Konark is a magnificent monument, where the vitality
and spirit of a creative age in the history of Orissa are echoed in its
sculptures even long after that time is buried in the past. Sir John
Marshall remarked, "there is no monument of Hinduism, I think that is
at once so stupendous and so perfectly proportioned, as the Black
Pagoda, and none which leaves so deep an impression on the memory".
The temple was declared a centrally protected monument in March 22,
1915. It has been included in the list of World Heritage sites in 1984 for
its outstanding universal value to humanity.
Over the centuries, legends and oral traditions, made this monument
more and more mysterious. Perhaps few temples in India have remained
as controversial as Konark in vital matters such as construction,
worship, and causes of its downfall. Did the builders fmish the temple?
Was it consecrated? When did the temple fall down? What are the
outstanding features of Konark? A number of questions arise which
form a popular subject of discussion among the scholars and common
This monograph has been written with broad object to discuss all
aspects of Konark, its mythology, religious importance, history,
architecture, sculpture and its conservation.
In the preparation of the volume I have extensively used existing
published monographs on the subject and important material available
in various institutions. However, due to constraint of space, the footnote
reference have been avoided and the sources of the quoted statements
may be found in my earlier monograph on Konark which was published
in 1996 and in the bibliography. My understanding of the monument
owes a great deal to my extensive field study and long association with
Konark. I hope that this concise and coherent narrative will help general
readers and all those who want to know Konark in a proper perspective.
I would like to thank the authorities of the Archaeological Survey
of India, National Museum, New Delhi, British Museum, London. Victoria
and Albert Museum, London, Museum Rietberg, Zurich, India Office
Library, London, British Library London, for photographs, important
information and facilities. I am especially grateful to S. Digby and J.C.
Harle for their valuable illustrations on Konark, published in South Asian
Studies and to Durga Charan Pati, former Chief Engineer, Gopalpur Port,
Orissa, for drawing my attention to drawings of the Black Pagoda
contained in the log books of voyages in 1679-80. Dr. Sanjay Acharya,
my colleague in the Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and
Archaeology, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar provided valuable
photographs and helped me in many ways for which I wish to thank
I would like to thank my family members, Shantipriya Behera (Wife),
Soumyadarshan (Son), Madhusmita (daughter in law), Prajnaparamita
(daughter) and Bijaya Kumar (son in law) for their support. My grand
children - Abhijit, Ajitabh, and Anushka-provided a happy atmosphere
for my work.
I am grateful to the Publications Division, Govt. of India, for giving
me this opportunity to revisit Konark and write a concise volume in the
light of the latest research on the subject.
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