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Majestic Konark

Majestic Konark
Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century AD Sun Temple at Konark in Odisha, India. 

It is believed that the temple was built by king Narasimhadeva I of Eastern Ganga Dynasty in 1255 AD. The temple complex is in the shape of a gigantic chariot, having elaborately carved stone wheels, pillars and walls. A major part of the structure is now in ruins. 

The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has also featured on various list of Seven Wonders of India. The temple is 35 km from Puri and 65 km from Bhubaneswar. 

Anil Dey’s The Sun Temple Of Konark is the first book that provides an in-depth analysis of the temple’s architecture and construction techniques. Inclusion of detailed and extensive historical information provides context to the creation of this timeless monument. 

Legends and literature are not discarded as hearsay by the author, providing refreshing insights into Kalinga and the makers of Konark. 

Kalinga stone craft, which reached its pinnacle in Konarka, is in ruins. What remains is also fast vanishing. It is necessary to preserve this great heritage in its original glory before it is too late. What is heritage? It is neither in stone carvings nor in architectural grandeur nor even in the philosophy ingrained in the creation. It is the total ambiance, created. That, religious rites and taboos overshadowed such superb artistic expression is beside the point. 

Fact remains that unlike other forms of ethnic art this great form of art cannot exist without its vehicle i.e the temple. For instance, carving a Konarka wheel in isolation and planting it on the wall of a hotel cannot convey the concept of eternal solar cycle, it was created to convey originally. Attempts have been made in recent times to sell stone carvings in isolation. 

Driven by market forces the artisans are compromising and helping only to corrupt a great art form. At the end these artist earn spittoons, the cream going in to the hands of traders.
To start with, the Kalinga Heritage Preservation Trust (KHPT) proposes to create a temple in total Kalinga tradition devoid of religious taboos. 

The temple will be dedicated to Sun and will be open to everyone under the Sun. It will be a true centre to foster universal brotherhood and learning. Study and research centre shall be an important part of its activity. Commercialised religious rites shall not be allowed in this temple. A crafts village shall be created for the dying tribe of stone artists. 

The Trust shall infuse in them the scriptural artistic traditions and open for them a market for fair return on craftsmanship.

Apart from the project outlined above the trust shall probe in to deficiencies in the preservation techniques involving all heritage buildings, not Konarka alone. Konarka of course will receive priority attention. KHPT will be a platform for heritage loving experts from various disciplines to charter preservation measures for sustained result. KSPT shall interact with institutions directly involved in preservation work.

The trust also demanded that the conservation of the existing Konark temple be handed over to Unesco and made refrences to widespread allegations from the government and other parties that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had been neglecting their duty.

Archaeologists and conservationists organized a seminar on Creation of a Global Sun Temple and conservation of Konark Temple organised by Kalinga Heritage Preservation Trust (KHPT) in association with Intach (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage), Odisha chapter, here on Monday. 

After some research, KHPT has developed a set of drawings and a project report on the proposed global sun temple.“The project will require 50 acres of land and an estimated budget of Rs 600 crore. The new temple will be created in the structural and spiritual tradition of Konark without prejudice to caste, colour, religion or nationality,” chairman of KHPT Anil Dey said.

The new sun temple will be in the shape of chariot with a water body below. The height of the new temple will be 212 feet against the height of 228 feet of the old one and granite stone will be used for construction instead of khondalite stone used previously. In the new design, the number of wheels has been reduced to 12 from 24 implying the passage of 12 months. 

Iconography on the walls of the temple will not only present the beautiful concept of digpalas and parswa debas but also saints and thinkers over the ages.

The proposed temple complex will also have four centres of theosophical studies, an art research centre on Kalinga art and sculpture, a crafts village, a solar power generation system, mini planetarium, open air theatre and so on.

Convener of Intach, New Delhi, A G K Menon focused on a constructive conservation policy socio-economic agendas and improvement of traditional crafts skill integrated in the policy. Dey said they had put forth a proposal about the new Sun temple.
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