Sun Temple, Konark: A Story of Grit, Valour, Triumph & Sacrifice

The Sun Temple at Konark stands testimony to an architectural magnificence that has continued to challenge the imagination of the modern civilization. Built in mid 12th century, this edifice of grandeur was supposedly 229 ft or 70 mt in height at the time of its unveiling.

The temple was constructed in the shape of a gigantic chariot, an ode to the Sun God with 12 pairs of ornately crafted stone wheels, each 3 meters in width. The chariot was pulled by a set of seven intricately designed horses (4 on the right and 3 on the left). The wheels of the temples actually were sundials, which were used to accurately calculate time to the minute of the day and the night.

According to lore, as Narsimhadeva 1 was drawing up his plan for a grand temple, in another part of his kingdom lived Bishu Maharana, a brilliant artisan and the man finally to be appointed as the chief of the architects for the temple construction.

Bishu presented the theme of the construction of the main temple. The temple was to resemble a chariot, a symbolic ode to the Sun God. The wheels of the chariot would be designed in a way so that the time of the day and night is measured to the minutes. The walls of the temple would capture various human expressions and social stigmas. The King was extremely happy about the theme, being well aware on various forms of art, he had immediately agreed to it. However, the work was not without difficulties and soon stretched into a longer enterprise than anyone had imagined, much to the impatience of the king. Finally, with most of the work completed, the crown of the temple was left to be finished. It was here that Bishu and his team ran into several roadblocks and delayed the delivery of the final crown. The king, losing patience, provided an ultimatum to the artisans: finish the work within a month or face being beheaded. As the artisans were panic stricken, word travelled back to Bishu’s village where his son Dharma, now a young lad of 12 and well versed in the secrets of the craft, having learnt them through an old artisan who had worked on a temple in his village, decided to come and help his father build the temple crown.

Working in secret, after dusk, Dharma managed to complete the crown within a span of few hours. However, the other artisans were terrified of what the king may do if he found out that a 12 year old had managed to accomplish what they had not. At this point, Dharma understood that it was time for a sacrifice and after saluting his father for a final time, he climbed the steeple and awaited the first rays of the sun. As they hit the crown, he leapt into the deep blue ocean, giving his life so that his father and the artisans could gain theirs again. His sacrifice ensured that his tale would go down in legends and continue to endure even as Konark itself faded away.

At ArtisansCrest, we work with artisans who draw their lineage to this bygone era of immaculate artisanship and in due course would possibly unravel a Dharma who would manage to create marvels like the Sun Temple, Konark. Get in touch with us, collaborate and co-create your own masterpiece, filled with history and a testimony to a brave son who gave his life to create a masterpiece.