Sun Temple

A gigantic restoration effort in Konark

Print edition : July 19, 2019

One of the three extant sculptures of the Sun God on the northern side of the sanctum sanctorum. Here he is riding a horse wearing gumboots, with devotees worshipping him and angels bringing garlands for him. Both the Sun God and his steed are highly ornamented.

A panoramic view of the Sun Temple complex with the remains of the natamantapa and the jagamohana and its gopura. Scaffolding has been erected around the jagamohana for restoration work.

The plinth on which are the remains of the sanctum. High on the wall is one of the two standing sculptures of the Sun God.

The highly sculpted sinhasana in the sanctum on which the deity of the Sun God stood. It has a series of superb carvings on the three sides depicting devotees and the king, kneeling down in worship.

The sinhasana in the sanctum on which the deity of the Sun God stood.

A scale model of the Konark temple as it existed originally. Photo: T.S.S. Subramanian

This massive sculpture of Gaja Simha, made of khondolite stone, was originally on the vimana of the sanctum, facing east. When the vimana collapsed it fell on the adjacent gopura of the jagamohana. It is displayed on the temple's lawns now.

This is a landmark sculpture showing a king holding a bow and arrow and seated on an elephant. Three traders, dressed in long tunics, are gifting the king with a giraffe. This shows that Odisha had trade ties with Africa.

The plinth of the natamantapa with its finely carved figures of women playing musical instruments.

This picture, taken in 1868, show the ruin in which the Sun Temple lay then: The sanctum sanctorum abutting the jagamohana is covered completely with sand and vegetation. Photo: Courtesy: The ASI

This picture, taken in 1868, show the ruin in which the Sun Temple lay then: The deep dilapidation of the jagamohana. Photo: Courtesy: The ASI

This picture, taken in 1868, show the ruin in which the Sun Temple lay then: The main eastern entrance with the flight of steps and the platform reduced to rubble and the wheels of chariot broken into pieces. Photo: Courtesy: The ASI

This picture, taken in 1868, show the ruin in which the Sun Temple lay then: The wheels of chariot broken into pieces. Photo: Courtesy: The ASI

Workers cleaning the lever portion of the jagamohana with soft brushes.

Cleaning portions of the jagamohana structure with water and soap before the paper pulp sheets are applied.

Applying the paper pulp treatment to the lower portions of the jagamohana structure to absorb the salt deposited by sea breeze on them over the ages.

Arun Malik, Superintending Archaeologist.

Shilpa Raturi, Superintending Archaeological Chemist of the ASI, Bhubaneswar Circle.

The Sun Temple at Konark has been built in the form of a huge chariot with 12 pairs of big wheels and drawn by seven horses.

The sculpture of Aruna, the thighless charioteer of the Sun God, in one of the standing sculptures. It is missing in the other standing sculpture of the Sun God.

The ASI has taken up work at the Sun Temple to conserve those portions that are still standing and restore to the extent possible the colossal temple complex, in whose sanctum sanctorum the deity and the vimana over it are no longer extant.
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