As a general feature life sized figures of Parsva-devatas (side deities) are fixed on the three sides of vimana (main temple) walls. They are all Surya images, made of chlorite stone in different poses. It is said that these images fell down on account of shock sustained at the time of dismantling the inclined walls of the main temple and as such, got damaged. They have however, been restored to this respective positions.
In the Vedas, Surya is conceived as a unified manifestation of the Brahmanical Trinity, the morning sun being identified with Bramha, the creator; the midday-sun with Vishnu, the preserver and the evening-sun with Mahesvara, the destroyer, It is probably this conception that the artist had wanted to express in the three images of Surya, on the three sides of the main temple.
As the plan of the temple slightly makes an angle with the cardinal directions, the image of the south, is flooded with rays of morning-sun and is therefore significant for its expression of youth and activity,justifying the description of Prabhat-Surya (morning sun). It is decorated with typical set of ornaments on the arms, neck and in the ears. The head-dress is also typical. The waist-band is provided with tassels hanging down from it. This is called avyana (waist band) and is Indianised form of Aicuiyonghen the sacred waist girdle of the Iranians. The drapery, reaching upto the knee, is wonderfully carved. The hands of the statue holds two full bloomed lotuses, one of which still exists, above the right hand of the figure. The bottom of the pedestal is decorated with figures of women in various poses.
Some are playing on musical instruments and some are in dancing poses. It is also decorated with the figures of seven horses driven by Aruna, the charioteer of Surya, sitting near the feet of the statue with the reins of the horses in his hands. The King and the Queen are sitting on the pedestal with folded hands and the work is lying nearby . In the panel two standing figures of male in their hands. His four wives:- Rajani, Rikshubha, Chayya and Suvarsasa are seen just above the two attendants. Brahma and Vishnu are sitting at a little higher levell. At the top most corners of the panel, Vidyadharas are seen offering garlands of flowers from the heaven. The figures of Kirthi-mukha (lion-face) is also carved at the center, from the mouth of which chains of pearl beads are coming out. The artistic traditions of Guptas present here, make one feel that the beauty of the Gupta art was still alive in the minds of the Konark sculptors.
The figures in the western side may be taken as Midhyanna-Surya (midday-sun), standing with full vigor and personality. Decoration of the panel ornaments and drapery used, the presence of King and Queen, the seven horses and the figure of Aruna are almost similar to the Prabhata-Surya (morning-sun), who also wears upnat (boot). Some describe the sun with Upanat pinaddha-padayugalam (wearing boots in his both legs) .
The third figure on the northern wall is the Astachala-Surya (setting-sun) the figure brings out beautifully the tired express ion which is the result of a hard days work, while the other horses are completely tired, he is anyhow completing his journey by riding on the back of the last horse who is also found to be stopping with its folded legs.
Of these three, the image of southern side is comparatively in good condition while the other two have been broken to a greater extent. The height of the Sun god in southern side is 8'.3'' (2.514 m.) while that of western side is 9'.6'' (2.895 m.). The height of the entire sculptures of northern side is 3.58 cm.. For these three side gods there are three side temples on three sides of the main temple which have also been collapsed along with the main temple.
As described by some scholars there were 4 statues of big lions each rampant on an elephant, had been projected on the higher parts of the temple wall just above the height of he porch in four directions. Among them the eastern one was largest of all which is now found lying in the compound in three pieces. The local guides call it as Flying Lion.
The main temple has been completely collapsed leaving its broken walls of 227 feet (64 m) high. They are found to be of 20 to 25 feet thick. Since the main temple has been crumbled down, now it is difficult to give a correct and detailed account of it. Only three Parsva Devatas (side god) are visible on the walls of the broken temple and an artistic throne inside the sanctuary. Although some portions of these side gods (Parsva devata) have been broken they still have rich architectural values. Their artistry and execution are regarded as best specimens of Konark sculptures.
Since the temple has been broken it is not possible to measure its height. But according to various estimation its height was of about 230 feet (70 meters). Generally according to Silpa Sastra, the height of the wall of the main temple is 13/3 times of the lower pitha (platform). Similarly the height of the Rekha is double than the wall. So taking all these factors into account the height of the main temple is calculated as below :-
Lower Plinth ... 1'.0''
Lower Platform ... 13'.3''
Khura Prustha ... 2'.3''
Wall ... 58'.6''
Rekha portion ... 117'.0''
Amalak, Kalas, etc. ... 38'.0''
Total ... 220'.2'' (69.494 m)
There is no account of the temple being measured by any standardized measurement. Generally, it is described as of 230 feet (70 m.) in height. The highest temple that exists now in Orissa is the temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri. Its height is 214 feet (65.227 m.) from the level of the Grand Road. Hence, the Sun temple at Konark was the highest among all the temples of Orissa and even in India.
To get into the sanctum there is a flight of steps from top of the broken walls on the north-western corner descending down to the floor of the sanctum. The floor of the temple is of chlorite stones. It is of square size measuring 32'.10'' (10 m.) on each side. The floor is slightly sloped towards the north and there is a nulla in this side. The sanctum's top was closed by means of inward corbellings from all four sides and finally covered by a big stone block to serve the purpose of ceiling. This is beautifully carved in the shape of a full-bloomed lotus of about five feet (11.5 meter) in diameter. Each of its petals is decorated with the figure of a dancing girl and Surya (Sun god) standing on a chariot driven by a team of seven horses. He is found holding two lotuses with their long stems in his hands. The slab has long grooves at its either end for fixing it in reversed position; which was discovered from the debris accumulated on t he top of Jagamohana during its clearance.
The span of the room being very wide, heavy iron beams of about 9*9 inches in section and not less than forty feet (12 meters) in length, were used in supporting the corbel. The beams were prepared out of some small iron pieces carefully assembled and forged together by heating. There is no sculptural work on the walls inside the temple, nor the walls have any plastering.
There still exists a throne of black chlorite in the sanctum sanctorum. The image of Surya Narayan, the presiding deity of he Sun temple had been installed on this throne. The length, breadth and height of the throne are 11'.0'' (3.352 m.), 7'.6'' (2.286 m.) and 4'.8'' (1.422 m.) respectively. On the throne there is an altar for the Sun god. There was a wall of 5 feet (1.524 m.) high on the back side of this altar for facilitating resting of the image. That has also been broken in course of time. Some portions of this throne had been damaged perhaps due to striking of heavy stones from the top of the temple. It is evident that such broken portions have been again repaired and replaced by new stones. There were a flight of steps to the top of the throne. Now only 3 steps exist. There are many artistic works on the body of the throne. Besides beautifully carved creepers, images of varieties of animals, the most attractive is the scene of the king Narasimha Dev worshiping the Sun with his companions.
Introduction Sun Temple Subsidiary Shrines Fall of Konark Conservation Festivals Art & craft Tourist Information Maps Photo Gallery