Sun Temple of Konark

NINE PLANETS TEMPLE AT KONARK

A huge chlorite slab, 20 feet (6 metres) long, four feet (1.2 metre) high and seven feet (2 metres) deep was used as an architrave, above the main entrance to the Jagamohana. This is made into nine different panels representing the Navagraha (Nine Planets) figures and richly ornamented.

The architectural use of the Navagrahas is according to the medieval convention, a kind of prophylatic measure for the fafety of the temple and can be seen almost in every temples in Odisha. The lintel-slabs of all the earlier shrines of the Bhaumakara period, there contain only the figures of eight grahas (planets). Ketu making his appearence on the architraves from the Ganga period onwards.

In carving out the images, their attributes are not correctly attended to. They are made mostly alike in from, except a few in the group. Most of them are holding rosary and kamandalu in their hands, wearing high pointed crowns and sitting on lotuses the descriptions in the puranas symbolise as follows:

Sun, Moon and Mars

Surya(Sun) stands on a vechile of seven horses and holds two lotuses in his both hands.
Chadra(Moon) rides on a swan and carries discs of moon in his left and right hands.
Mangala(Mars) being the warlord, holds a kattara(cutter) in his right hand and in the left, several human heads, in the act of devouring. His vechile is a goat.

Mercury, Jupiter and Venus

Budha(Mercury) Sits on a lotus and he is to hold in his two hands the bow and arrow.
Vrihaspati(Jupiter) being the high prist of the Devatas(Gods), has a flowing bread and holds a rosary and kamandalu in his hands, but he has to be seated either on a frog or on a skull, instead of a lotus.
Sukra(Venus) is said to be the priest of the Ashuras (demons). Excepting the blindness of one eye, his icon is more or less correctly shown.

Sturn, Rahu and Ketu

Sani(Sturn) rides on a tortoise and holds a rod in his one hand, instead of sitting on a lotus.
Rahu(Ascending Node) has only the upper half of the body. Two of his canine teeth are projecting from his upper jaw,to represent him as a monster and a fierce aspect of the Sun and Moon. He is found holding the Sun in one hand and the Moon in the other.
Ketu(Descending Node) is the last one in the group. His upper part is similar to others, but the lower is formed of the body of a serpent coiling round. He is to hold the noose of the snake in one hand and with the other, a sword.

The cruel hands of time did not permit the slab to remain in its original position for long. Ultimately it fell down and was lying uninjured in the debris for many years, when it was discovered, the Asiatic Society of Bengal wanted to remove it to calcutta, for exhibiting in the museum, as a rare specimen of sculptural decoration of India.To facilitate its removal, the slab was longitudinally cut into two pieces in the year 1893 A.D. But its heaviness even after cutting, and the sandy track all around, it made impossible to do so. It was subsequently left at a distance of about two furlongs from the temple site, Where it was lying for more than sixty years, very recently the Government of India arranged for its installation in a separate shed, close to the temple compound and now this is famous as the Navagraha temple of Konark.

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