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date: 16 September 2019

Konarak [Konārak; Koṇārka]locked

  • Walter Smith

Extract

[Konārak; Koṇārka]

Site of a Hindu temple sacred to the sun god Surya, on India’s eastern coast about 48 km south-east of Bhubaneswar, Orissa. The 13th-century temple marks the climax of the temple building tradition of Orissa (anc. Kalinga) both in its grandiose monumentality and in the quality and extent of its sculptural decoration. Some scholars have suggested, on the basis of local legends, that the Surya Temple was built on the site of an earlier temple dedicated to the sun god. While not archaeologically verified, the legends indicate that Konarak was sacred to Surya earlier than the 13th century.

The first known mention of the temple is an inscription dated Shaka year 1217 (ad 1295) stating that a king Narasimha built at Konarak a temple of the Sun. It is generally believed that this and subsequent inscriptions refer to Narasimha I (reg 1238–64) of the Eastern Ganga dynasty. The physical magnitude of the temple alone suggests royal patronage, which is confirmed by numerous sculptural representations where a king is seen in military procession, worshipping various deities and even enshrined as a kind of divinity (e.g. ...

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