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Konark temple Odisha

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How the Konark temple got Destroyed and Ruined

While Odisha was being rules by the Marathas during 18th century a man discovered the temple but it was abandoned and badly covered in overgrowth. Then last mention of prosperous Konark temple dates back to 16th century. The Akbar Era text Ain-i-Akbari by Abul Fazal mentions Konark temple and described it as a prosperous site that made visitors “astonished at its sight”. It mentioned the temple in its full glorious form with no mention of ruins. There are a few theories associated with its damage.

The Natural Damage Theory

It is believed that due to the use of poor quality Khandolite eventually led to the temple’s decay. It is mentioned in the NCERT books that the Shikhar of the temple was very high as it reached 70 metres proved too heavy for the structure and it ultimately fell down. This theory seems doubtful due to the presence of other grand temples nearby. Texts from 17th century mentions about the decay and repair being done at the temple which suggests that the decay started somewhere between late 16th century and 17th century.

The Islamic Invasion theory

If we look back at the Islamic texts they mention that the temple was attacked sevaral times by Muslim armies between 15th century and 17th century. They also mention Kalapahad attempted to destroy the temple in 1565 but it inflicted only minor damage and all he could get was the copper kalasa. The hindu text Madala Panji and local stories state that Kalapahad attacked again in 1568 and damaged the temple.

Later on a great amount of damage was done the same way as with other monuments of India. On small scale local people used to take away stones and other things with them. The Raja of Khurda in 19th century removed some stones and sculptures from the temple to use them in the temple he was building in Puri. The Aruna Stambh was relocated to Jagannath temple Puri and placed at its Singhadwara (Lion’s gate). Finally in 1984 the temple was granted World Heritage Site status by UNESCO.

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No worship in the grand ancient temple

One of the greatest mystery that also seems to be the most shocking fact about the Konark temple of Odisha is that whether Sun God was worshipped there or not. It is shocking to know but many people believe that the Sun God was never ever worshipped in ancient temple. Why worship was not done in this grand temple is related to the legend of Dharm pada, the 12 year boy who installed the lodestone.

But later on it was reveled that it is just myth and there were ancient texts available that described worship being done in the temple. The Kenduli Copper Plate inscription of 1384 CE also clearly indicates that the temple was an active site of worship. There are records from 17th century as well that states that worship was being done in the temple.

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The mystery of disappearance of River Chandrabhaga

If you go through the ancient texts, manuscripts, preserved palm-leaf drawing and sketches including …… They all indicate the presence of Chandrabhaga river. The story of Dharm pada also mentions that the Sun temple is made beside the Chandrabhaga river but currently no river or even traces of river are found in the proximity of the temple. How the Chandrabhaga river disappeared and did it ever exist remains a mystery.

Although majority of the temple has been in ruins but on seeing whatever is left one can easily feel the grandness and wonderful engineering of ancient India.

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