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Odisha’s Konark Wheel

Published: 14th Sep, 2023

Context

At the G20 Summit venue in Delhi, the historic Konark Wheel from Odisha’s Sun Temple emerged as a focal point of attention. Prime Minister has selected a wall adorned with a depiction of this ancient architecture as the backdrop for his warm welcome to world leaders.

About

About Konark Wheel:

  • The Konark Wheel was built during the 13th century under the reign of King Narasimhadeva-I of the Ganga dynasty.
  • The Wheel is an integral part of the Sun Temple, dedicated to the sun god ‘Surya’.
    • The temple was designed as a huge chariot drawn by 7 mighty spirited horses on 12 pairs (total 24 wheels) of gorgeously decorated wheels at its base.
    • The wheel size is 9 feet 9 inches in diameter, each with 8 wider spokes and 8 thinner spokes. 

Konark wheels are used as Sun dials in ancient times to know the time of the day.

  • Out of these 24 wheels, 6 are on either side of the main temple, 4 are on each side of the Mukhasala, and 2 are on each side of the steps at the eastern front.

Cultural significance of the Wheel

  • Its rotating motion symbolises time, 'Kaalchakra', as well as progress and continuous change.
  • They portray the cycle of creation, preservation and achievement of realisation.
  • These 12 pairs of wheels may also possibly represent the 12 zodiac signs.
  • Some also believe that the Wheel of Konark is the same as the Dharmachakra of the Buddhists“The Wheel of Karma, The Wheel of the Law. “

The Sun Temple (UNESCO World Heritage Site):

  • Built in the 13th Century by Ganga king Narasimhadeva 1(AD 1238-1264), the Sun Temple is located on the eastern shores of the Indian subcontinent.
  • Architecture: Kalinga architecture
  • Design:The Konark temple is designed in the form of the chariot of the Sun god.
    • The temple stands on a base of a total of 24 intricately carved wheels, 12 on each side. Four of the wheels can still be used as sundials to tell the time.

Each wheel has eight spokes. In the Indian time system, the day is divided into eight pahars comprising three hours each. The wheels served as a sun dial. One can tell the time accurate to a minute by observing the shadow of the axel falling on the rest of the wheel.

  • Components of the Temple:
    • Main Entrance: The main entrance of the Sun Temple, the Gajasimha - gaja meaning elephant and simhareferring to lions - derives its name from two massive stone lions crushing elephants.
    • The vimana (principal sanctuary) was surmounted by a high tower with a shikhara (crowning cap), which was razed in the 19th century.
    • To the east, the jahamogana (audience hall) dominates the ruins with its pyramidal mass.
    • Farther to the east, the natmandir (dance hall), today unroofed, rises on a high platform.
  • The Sun Temple is directly associated with the idea and belief of the personification of the Sun God, which is adumbrated in the Vedas and classical texts.

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