The sun temple is situated in Konark, a town in the district of Puri, Orissa. The temple was constructed in 1255 CE according to the dates of Julian calendar. Sun is the main god of the temple and the temple is designed like the chariot of the sun. The temple is one of the UNESCO heritage sites and also one of the Seven wonders of India. The temple is known for its amazing aesthetics and design besides the mystery about which we will be talking later in this article.
- CE means Current Era. It is an alternate word used for AD that refers to all the years after BC (Before Christ).
- Julian Calendar is a calendar designed by Julius Ceaser)
A part of the temple was destroyed due to a collapse in the 17 th century. During the collapse, it is said that the main statue of temple levitated in air. Later in 1927, the idol was moved to Jagannath temple in Puri by Raja of Khurda. Before knowing the reason why the idol floated in the air, one has to know about the design of the temple.
The Temple's Design
As discussed earlier, the temple is constructed like a giant chariot. The chariot has 24 wheels and is driven by seven horses. The horses are tied to the chariot using snakes. All the 24 wheels have 8 spokes in them. This is not a random design but a real masterpiece. Every part of this design has an amazing reason behind it.
The 24 wheels
The twenty-four wheels denote the 24 hours of a day. Every wheel is a sundial. It is possible to calculate the time exactly without the deviation of even a minute by using the shadows on the spokes.
The 8 spokes
Prahar means a period of 3 hours. The 8 spokes personify the 8 prahars of a day.
The 7 horses
The white horses denote the white light of the sun. The number seven is used because each of these seven horses denotes the seven colors of the visible spectrum.
The reason to symbolize sun god as a man riding a chariot is that “ it is not that the sun that moves to reach us but the rays of the sun”. Sun is static in one place like the man in the chariot. The moving horses denote the sun rays that move to reach us.
Light travels in form of waves. The waves have the shape of a moving snake. This is why the horses are tied to the chariot using snakes.
Overall the chariot portrays that,“ the sun stays in one place. But the white light waves, which are a combination of seven colors, travel like a snake to reach out the universe”. A perfect logo of the Sun God.
The name of the temple is also derived from two Sanskrit words: “Kona- angle” + “arka-sun". Sundials help you calculate the time by casting shadows based on the angle between the sundial and the sun. As the wheels of the chariot are sundials the temple is named so.
The temple was constructed on the seashore in such a way that the first rays of the rising sun fall into the entrance of the temple.
Now coming back to the mystery!
“The main idol floated in the air during the collapse” – How is this possible?
As the temple was planned to be constructed on the seashore, the Indian mastermind architects anticipated the natural disasters like Tsunami that can occur in the future. So they decided to make the temple strong enough to withstand any natural disaster.
They introduced a bulky iron beam in between every two stones and used a 52-ton magnet on the peak of the temple tower to support these iron beams.
But what’s the problem with the magnet?
The magnetic waves influenced the temple’s structure very well. But it also started to interfere with the magnetic compass that sailors used. It misled a lot of foreign sailors and as a result, Portuguese shipmen tried removing the magnet from the temple. This collapsed the magnetic field subjecting the idol to levitate. This is called magnetic suspension.
Hence, the mystery unveiled!