Syllabus: GS1/Culture

In News

  • At Bharat Mandapam, the venue of the G20 Summit in Delhi, the replica of the iconic Konark Sun Temple wheel was installed. PM Modi also explained the significance of the Konark wheel to the US President Joe Biden.

Konark Sun Temple

  • Deity: Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century CE temple dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya.
  • Location: It is located at Konark about 35 kilometres northeast from Puri city on the coastline in Puri district, Odisha.
  • History: The temple was constructed during the reign of king Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga dynasty about 1250 CE.
  • Cultural Significance: It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. It remains a major pilgrimage site for Hindus, who gather here every year for the Chandrabhaga Mela around the month of February.
  • Other Names: This temple was called the “Black Pagoda” in European sailor accounts because it looked like a great tiered tower which appeared black. Similarly, the Jagannath Temple in Puri was called the “White Pagoda”.

Konark Wheel: Architecture

  • Sun Temple of Konark is renowned throughout the world for its stone sculptures.
  • The temple was designed in the shape of a huge chariot drawn by 7 mighty spirited horses on 12 pairs (total 24 wheels) of gorgeously decorated wheels at its base.
  • The size of the wheel is of 9 feet 9 inches in diameter and each one of them having 8 wider spokes and 8 thinner spokes.
  • Out of these 24 wheels 6 are in either side of the main temple, 4 wheels are on each side of the Mukhasala and 2 wheels on each side of steps at eastern front.

Significance of Konark wheel

  • Various theories have been advocated regarding the significance of Konark wheel.
  • According to some, the 7 horses represent the days of the week and the 12 pairs of wheels represent the 12 months of the year and the 24 wheels signifies 24 hours of a day and the 8 major spokes signifies prahars (three hour period) of a day.
  • According to others, the wheels of the chariot have been interpreted as the ‘Wheel of Life’. They portray the cycle of creation, preservation and achievement of realisation.
  • These 12 pairs of wheels may also possibly represent the 12 zodiac signs.
  • Some also believe that the Wheel of Konark is the same as the Dharmachakra of the Buddhists – The Wheel of Karma, The Wheel of the Law.
  • The spokes of the wheels can be used as a sundial. By observing the shadow cast by the spokes, one can determine the approximate time of day.

Features / Carvings

  • The size and architecture of the 24 wheels is same but each one of them has been differently carved all over.
  • The thicker ones are all carved with circular medallions at their centres on the widest part of the face. The axels of the wheels project by about one foot from the surface, having similar decorations at their ends.
  • The rims are carved with designs of foliages with various birds and animals, whereas the medallions in the spokes are carved with the figures of women in various luxurious poses, mostly of sensual nature.

 Source: IE