Today, we live in a sexually repressed India where the talk of sex is taboo and everything associated with it is hush-hush-hush. We all know about the cases of sexual frustration and how it has tarnished the name of our country as well as the safety of our women folk.
But, if we go back in time, say about 761 years to be precise, that wasn’t the case. In fact, those were the years of a sexually liberal India that basked in the glory of the Kama sutra and believed it to be a great form of education for mankind. After all, reproduction and creation of offspring is the underlying essence of Mother Nature.
The temples of Khajuraho, the caves of Ajanta and Ellora and the Sun temple of Konark all bear testament to our once sexually liberal days. A couple of weeks back, I paid a visit to the Konark Sun Temple on the East coast of Odisha. The last time I had visited this temple, I was a young 9 year old boy who never understood the true meaning of these erotic sculptures, but 25 years later, all I did was marvel at the craftsmanship, rich thinking, vivid imagination, excellent calculations and a thorough understanding of physics, engineering, metallurgy and the solar system that are portrayed at every nook and corner of this amazingly beautiful temple.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of India, the 13th century Konark Sun Temple built by King Narasimhadeva I of Eastern Ganga dynasty portrays so many different types of erotica that sometimes I wonder if I was born into the same country as the Konark Sun Temple. Be it a woman going down on a man, a man going down on a woman, the 69, multiple partners, a mass orgy, the back door entry, sex during pregnancy, homosexuality (both sexes) and even bestiality, this temple has it all. All you need is a good guide and a keen eye to see this.
Built in traditional Kalinga architecture, this Sun temple stands on a horse chariot consisting of 12 pairs of wheels that is driven by 7 horses. Above these wheels lie the lotus foundations and above them lie the main sanctum sanctorum. The temple and the chariot faces East into the Bay of Bengal. The chariot wheels on the South side signify day, while the ones on the North side signify night. Hence, in line with this direction of the sun, the sculptures on the south side signify karma, dharma and artha (work, religion, spirituality, purpose of life in this birth), while the ones on the northern side denote kama or desire and this is where you can spot most of the erotica (the Maithuna sculptures) as generally night time is associated with recreation, relaxation and sexual activity.
Each wheel of the Sun temple chariot works as a sun dial. Each wheel consists of 8 spokes and 12 sub spokes between them. Thus, technically speaking, you can calculate the time to the nearest 15 minutes based on the sun’s direction and ensuing shadow.
I tested this personally at 3 times of the day, sunrise, mid day and sunset and it did deliver the results like magic. A true engineering and physics marvel and total respect to the architects and engineers of the 13th century who were a part of this temple construction.
My guide mentioned that in its hey days, these Sun dials could calculate time accurately to the minute, but according to my tests and based on the current state of ruins, I could only calculate time to the nearest 15 minutes accurately.
Everything about the temple mesmerized me. Apart from the erotica, which I sure did find super interesting, I loved the massive simha-gaja statues at the entrance (this had a lion on top of an elephant and a human), the wall of apsaras (the Nata Mandir) that perfectly decorate the main Sun temple with the first rays of the sun irrespective of summer, spring, autumn or winter, the monolithic sculptures of the Sun god and the crocodile head at the Mayadevi temple, the sun dials, the intricate carving, the high level of workmanship and overall the beautiful translation of imagination into picture-perfect and technically correct architecture.
12,000 workers took 12 years to built this ancient wonder. This includes the temple of Chaya and Maya devi that is located on the Western side of the main Sun Temple.
And then there is the touching folklore of Bisu Maharana’s (the architect) son finding a way to mount the multi-tonne crown stone on top of the temple and the jumping into the Chandra Bhaga river and committing suicide.
There are many folk and modern tales surrounding this gorgeous Sun Temple. Hire yourself a good guide and slowly unfurl the mystery of this place. Come to understand why ships sailing near the Konark coast used to sink often. Get to know the Sun – the life force on Earth a bit more closely and may be even at a technical level. Find the reason as to why the metal structures inside the temple have not rusted in spite of being exposed to highly salty air for the last 761 years. And finally, spend time appreciating the glorious past of a once sexually liberal India!
Some Handy Information about getting in and around
Location: Konark is located about 35 kms from Puri and 65 kms from Bhubaneshwar.
Nearest Railroad: Khurda Road or Puri. You can hire a taxi or a bus from there.
Nearest Airport: Bhubaneshwar
Place to Stay: Yatrinivas, run by Odisha Tourism is newly renovated and that is where I stayed. There are many cheaper places right opposite the temple and some expensive luxury places near the beach side.
Other Attractions Nearby: Pipili village, Raghurajpur Village, Beach Town of Puri and Chandra Bhaga Beach for Sunrise