In the 19th century earlier, scholars such as Andrew Stirling and James Fergusson, who saw a fragment of the main temple, never entertained any doubt regarding the completion of the building.

By: Diksha Sharma

Posted on: 9/10/2020 View : 125


In the 19th century earlier, scholars such as Andrew Stirling and James Fergusson, who saw a fragment of the main temple, never entertained any doubt regarding the completion of the building. But after collapse of the temple and judging from the vast debris with which it was covered, some scholars believed that the temple was never completed and nor was any image placed within it. M.H. Arnott thought that the temple was constructed on a heap of sand and the temple collapsed immediately after completion as the sand was removed from the interior. He was under the impression that the “Weight above was not great enough to resist the inward tendency ofthe corbelling to fall in”. Percy Brown asserted that the temple collapsed even before its completion. ‘There are fairly clear proofs that it was never quite completed as before the ponderous stones that formed the portion of the tower, could be put into position, the foundation began to give way’. Some ofthe large sculptures blocked intended for the summit lie at the foot not only unbroken but unbruised, whereas had they fallen from such a height they could not fail to show signs of serious damage or fracture. The conception ofthe temple was that of genius, but its colossal grandeur outstripped the means of execution, for its materialisation was beyond the capacity of its builders, its scale was too great for their powers, and in the construction part they failed. It was, however, a magnificent failure”. The examination ofthe monument at different periods has revealed that its foundations were stable, Konark is considered the culmination of a long evolution of temple building activities in Orissa. Hence, they cannot be blamed for any faulty construction. Many of the large sculptures, have survived in damaged condition.

The lion-on-elephant figure, which projected from the eastern raha, is now seen on the ground in three pieces. The superb Simhasana, within the sanctum for the presiding deity, proves that the temple was completed and its puja image was consecrated. Though idol is not there, irregular depressions on the surface of the platform at its eastern edge were possibly due to constant placing of ritual pots. The lovely lotus petals on the top most moulding have become defaced probably due to the touch of the devotees for a long period. When the temple was consecrated, as a part of the ceremony, small yupa or sacrificial pillars were erected and two such pillars are seen next to a small platform between the Jagamohana and the natamandira. The various versions of the Madala Panji (palm leaf chronicle of Jagannatha temple) suggest that the temple was consecrated. That the main temple was finished to the top becomes evident from figures of vimanapalas, which were originally placed below the amalaka sila of the temple. If the spire of the temple was not completed or if it collapsed immediately after its completion, it is difficult to explain how a fragment of it survived till 1848. Moreover, the construction ofthe jagamohana and the natamandira would not have been undertaken had the main temple collapsed before completion. The subsidiary temples within the compound indicate that the site remained in a flourishing condition for a considerable period oftime. The ruins ofthe kitchen in the South¬ eastern corner provide additional proof that the temple enjoyed full paraphernalia of worship.

The erection of the temple was undoubtedly the greatest achievement of Narasimha 1. Hence the fact was repeatedly recorded in the copper plate charters of his successors. If the main temple had collapsed during construction or if it had been abandoned and left unfinished, the subsequent Ganga rulers would not have mentioned this monument with pride in their charters. The reference to this temple in the records of the successors of Narasimha I clearly proves that the temple was completed and the latest known reference made in the Kenduli plates of Narasimha IV of the Saka year 1305 (1384 A.D.) shows that at that time the monument was in a perfect state of preservation and the presiding deity was under worship. Moreover, there was evidence in the monument itself to support the fact that its construction was completed. A sculptured panel from Konark bearing an inscription in two lines has been removed to the Indian Museum, Calcutta. The inscription reads Line 1 - Sri va (vya) ya - bhandara-adhikari Valai-Naeka// Bhandara naeka Line-2 - Alalu-Naeka/kostha-karana Angai-Naeka// It is clear from the inscription that Valai Naeka was the vyayabhandra-adhikari (officer in charge of expenditure and stores), Alalu Naeka was the bhandara-naeka (chief officer of the stores) and Angai Naeka was the kostha-karana (accountant scribe of the treasury or granary). There is no doubt that the Bhandara mentioned in the inscription in the context of the sculpture, relates to the stores ofthe Sun temple and the officers referred to were dignitaries associated with the management of the temple. The question of assignment of duties connected with the rituals of the deity arises only after the completion and ceremonial installation ofthe image, and hence the names ofthe temple dignitaries preserved in the sculpture of Konark show beyond doubt that the temple was consecrated and the presiding deity was under worship.

The inscription, on grounds of palaeography can be assigned to the 14th or the first half of the 15th century, thereby suggesting the continuance ofworship there. The Brahama Purana (13th century) prescribes the procedure for the pilgrims to conduct worship in the ksetra of Konaditya one should take bath in the sea. Then one should go to the Sun temple (Suryalaya) with flowers and with restrained speech, make three circumambulations, then enter the temple and worship the Sun god Bhannu. The text recommends the worship of Konark with various upacharas. This indicates that the temple was finished and the presiding deity was under worship. The Sthala mahatmyas relating to Konark, mention several festivals such as magha saptmi, damana  bhanjika, car festival, etc. The Saura Samuchya, a later Orissan text, refers to twelve yatras (festivals) one in each month. These indicate that the presiding deity of Konark enjoyed worship for we cannot think of festivals without the installation of the deity. The procedure of performance of worship at Konark as given by the Puranas, has been mentioned in several later texts such as the Tirthachinatamani of Vachaspchi Misra (15th century) and the Pramana Pallava of Narasimha (13th century) both belonging to Mithila. Vachaspati Misra prescribed the worship ofthe Sungod, with identical verses borrowed from the Brahma Purana, indicating continuance ofthe worship in the Sun temple in the 15th Century. The Oriya Mahabharata of Sarala Das (15th century) contains a number of references on Konark as a tirtha visited by large number of pilgrims, especially on the occasion of the Maghasaptami festival. The Kapila Samhita, an Orissan text of the Suryavamsi period mentions Maitreyavane of Konark as an important centre of Sun worship in Orissa.

The Tirtha Prakasa of Mitra Misra also quotes the Koanarka-vidhi from the Brahma Purana which indicates that the temple was there and no modification was made in the procedure of worship. The Tirtha-sara of Nrsimha Prasad (1490- 1515 A.D.) mentions Padma tirtha or Konark as one of the four principal tirthas of Orissa. The text refers to the river Pusyvati, the sacred Sangam and the Soma-tirtha in the vicinity ofthe place. Raghunandana (1520-1570 A.D.) in his Purusottam Paddhati refers to four important places of pilgrimage in Orissa. They are Viraja, Ekamra, Konark and Purusottama. From all such literary sources, it is evident that the importance of Konark as a tirtha did not decline till the sixteenth century. The important role played by the temple in the religious life ofIndia is evident from numerous references in the later Puranas and other medieval literature. These describe the method ofworship at the temple and emphasize its importance as a place of pilgrimage. These could hardly have been written ifthe temple had never been completed or not opened for worship. A further indication that the temple was actually standing is found in the Bhakti-bhagavata, a Sanskrit work composed in 1510 A.D. by Kavidindima Jivadevacharya, the spiritual guide and minister of the Gajapati King Prataprarudra Deva (1497-1541 A.D.). In that work, Jivadevacharya makes a mention ofthe Konark temple ‘the banner ofthe steeple of which struck the heaven’. Jivadevacharya is certainly mistaken in assigning the temple to Narasimha II of the Ganga dynasty, but there is no doubt that the verses in praise of the temple were inspired by its actual sikhara which was intact at the time. The Oriya Ramayana of Balarama Das, composed in the reign of Gajapati king Prataparudra, shows that Bhaskara tirtha or Konark was in a flourishing condition. Therefore, Ramachandra is made to take bath in the river Chandrabhaga and is said to have stayed in the Bhaskara tirtha. During the time of Prataparudra Deva, Sri Chaitanya came to Puri, and it is known from the Chaitanya Mangala ofJayananda that the saint visited Konark.

This shows that the place was not deserted. On the contrary, it was so famous that in the later part of the same century the temple as Hunter comments, ‘wrung as unwilling tribute’ from a Mohammedan who was no other than Abul-Fazl, the celebrated historian ofthe court of Akbar (1556-1605 A.D.). His account of the temple as given in the Ain-I-Akbari, runs as follows: “Near Jagannath is a temple dedicated to the Sun. Its cost was defrayed by twelve years revenue of the province. Even those whose judgment is critical and who are difficult to please stand astonished at its sight. The height ofthe wall is 150 cubits high and 19 thick. It has three portals. The eastern has carved upon it, the figures of two finely designed elephants, each of them carrying a man upon his trunk. The western bears sculptures of two horsemen with trappings and ornaments and an attendant. The northern has two tigers, each of which is rampant upon an elephant that it has overpowered. In front is an octagonal column of black stone, 50 yards high. When nine flights of steps are passed, a spacious court appear with a large arch of stone upon which are carved the Sun and other planets. Around them are a variety of worshippers of every class, each after its manner with bowed heads, standing, sitting, prostrate, laughing, weeping, lost  in amaze or in wrapt attention and following these are diverse musicians and strange animals which never existed but in imagination. It is said that somewhat over 730 years ago, Raja Narasing Deo completed this stupendous fabric and left this mighty memorial to posterity.

Twenty-eight temples stand in its vicinity six before the entrance and twenty-two without the enclosure, each of which has its separate legend”. It cannot be claimed that the account of Abul-Fazl is correct or accurate, but there is no doubt that in his time the temple was in a prosperous condition, and had a number of lesser temples round it. Abul-Fazl says nothing about the state of preservation ofthe temple. But the description, in no way leaves the impression that the monument was then in a dilapidated condition. The Bahr-al-asrar of Mahmud b. Amir Wali notices both the temples ofJagannath and Konark in May 1626. This traveller from Balkh mentions that after seeing the famous car festival of Puri, he visited Konark. Regarding the temple ofKonark he records as follows: Having visited all the wonderful things, we set out to visit the idol house of Konark, situated five krosa (ten miles) away. We reached there in the evening. We spent that night very uncomfortably. In the morning we visited the temple. According to the Hindus this temple was constructed for the worship of the Sun god. The Hindus regard the Sun as the first avatar. These days Hindus do not worship the Sun god. For this reason Konark has also been deserted. It is situated near the Bay of Bengal. Its height is so great that once a Mughal who was known for his warksmanships and physical strength tried to shoot an arrow to hit the top but the arrow could not go beyond the half of the * temple’s height, and fell down in the sandy ground. “There is a pillar of many coloured marble without joints or insertion, which has also been covered up by sand and whatever position is visible and apparent is more than fifty dhara (cubits)”. Being an eye-witness account, the short description is more valuable than the account contained in the Ain-I-Akbari of AbulFazl. According to the description of the monument mentioned  above, the Sun god in Konark was not under worship.

The temple seems to have been deserted and even the premises around the temple were engulfed by the drifting sand. The lofty temple, however, was still standing intact to a great height, in 1626. The ‘pillar of many coloured marble’ mentioned by Mahmud b. Amir Wali, was obviously the chlorite pillar called Aruna Stambha which now stands in front of Jagannatha temple at Puri. Abul-Fazl mentioned an ‘octagonal column of black stone, 50 yards high’ at Konark which was confused by Amir Wali as a marble pillar. All the available versions of the Madala Panji record the tradition that the Sun-god of Konark was removed to Puri during the reign of Narasimhadeva (1621-1647 A.D.). An extract from the Madala Panji, published by M.M. Chakravarti, relates that the king visited the temple of Konark on the 9th. Anka of his reign (1628 A.D.) and had it measured through one Natha Mahapatra. By this time, due to the depredation of the yavana ruler Bakhar Khan, the presiding deity, called Maitraditya Virinicideva, had been removed to Niladrimahotsva temple in the compound of the Jagannath temple of Puri. Further it is known from the text that the kalasa and the padmadhvaja (lotus flnial) of the temple had ben broken by this date but the chumbakaluha-dharana (magnetic iron rod), which had originally held the kalasa in position, was still existing. This account ofthe Madala Panji, dated 1628, may be regarded as historically probable. It seems that towards the end of the 16th century or in early part of the 17th century, the temple was deserted for fear of attack by the Bakhar Khan and knew him personally. But he has not mentioned, any such attack on the temple. But it is clear that by 1626 A.D. Konark had already been deserted and a part of the monument was underneath the sand. European sailors account ofthe Black Pagoda The stupendous temple, close on the seashore, attracted the attention of the sailors passing in the Bay of Bengal as it served as an excellent landmark for them.

The Konark temple was known to early European sailors as the ‘Black Pagoda’ and the Jagannatha temple was known as the ‘White Pagoda’. general colour of the stone used for building the temple is not black; but very probably the deserted temple assumed such a colour from a distance owing to the lack of proper care, and absence of periodical white washings, as was done in the case of the Jagannatha temple. As far as we know, the earliest mention of the term is found in the diary of Sir Streynsham Master, Governor of Fort St. George, Madras, in connection with a voyage in the Bay of Bengal from Balasore Road to Masulipatam in 1676. On December 23, 1676, Master saw the Konark temple and the Jagannatha temple and recorded in his diary as follows: 'We sailed in sight of the Black Pagoda. The latter is that place called Juggernaut (Jagannatha) to which the Hindus from all parts ofIndia come on pilgrimage’. The unsigned memorandum of a voyage dated 1679 contains illustrations ofjuggernaut, other small pagodas and the 'Black Pagoda’. The interesting sketch of the Black Pagoda shows the main tower and porch’ probably it is the earliest available drawing ofthe temple. The ship ‘Berkley Castle’ with captain Talbott in command, passed near the Juggernaut the Black Pagoda on Sept. 2, 1680. In the log book there are two sketches of the Black Pagoda showing both the deula and the jagamohan. The perspective picture ofthe Black Pagoda seems to have been drawn virtually to the scale. The drawings give us an idea about the condition of the temple in 1679-80 and clearly indicate that both the deula and jagamohan were still standing to a great height. Francois Martin, an officer of the French East-India Company, who was in India between 1673 and 1706, mentions the temple as Black Pagoda in his memoirs. In the account of Thomas Brwery the Black Pagoda is mentioned as being situated some 20 miles below the pagod jno-Gamaet. C.R. William records ofthe encounter between two ships- Sherborne and Marlboroughin September 1712, leading to the capture of the latter off the Black Pagoda. The log of a ship, which started its voyage from calpie on the Hugly on August 15, 1748, records that on the 20th it passed near the shore of the Black Pagoda and Jakernot  Pagoda.

The details about the two pagodas are entered thus: ‘Wednesday August, 20, 1748, 9 (A.M.). Fair/saw the Black Pagoda, Dist 8 Miles of us. 11 (A.M.). Jakemot Pagoda, N.W. from ye Main yard/fair weather’. The French map ofCroisey (1764 A.D.) mentions the temple as “Pagoda Noire,” Captain John Ritchie, by order to the Bengal government, traced the coast of Orissa between the mouth of Kannaka river and the Black Pagoda in 1770-71. He was informed when at the South most opening of the Mahanuddy, that the Black Pagoda, was very near, on the south west”. The book ofsailing directions by Samuel Dunn (1780 A.D.) makes an interesting reference to the Black Pagoda. It records: “Four leagues E.b.N. of Juggernaut Pagoda is the Black Pagoda, which at a distance (like the former) resembles a large ship under sail, but on a nearer view it loses somewhat of its magnitude”. Another reference to the Black Pagoda appears in the Indian Directory ofJames Horsburgh (1809). It says: ‘Black pagoda, in at 19_52’ N: Ion 86_8’E, stands also at a small distance from the sea, and bears from the Juggernaut Pagodas N 75_E, distant 14 miles... When the Black Pagoda bears N.N.E., it appears like a high rock, rising abruptly at its east end, in shape ofthe gable end of a house, and a high pinnacle like a chimney projects upwards from its western end, from whence it gradually slopes down to the surface of the low land. There are three little clumps of trees or hammocks to the N.E. of it, and one to the S.W., which show their tops just above the white sand hills that form the coast. This pagoda being situated on even low reddish land, destitute of trees and being of less diameter and blacker than Jagannath pagodas, may be easily distinguished from the latter. They may be seen 6 leagues in clear weather, and when first discerned resemble ships under sail, although in some views the Black Pagoda appears like a huge rock’. From the above mentioned account it may be inferred that a portion of the main temple was still standing by that date.

‘high pinnacle which like a chimney’ projected upwards from the western end obviously represents the fragment ofthe tall spire of the main temple. In the first quarter ofthe 19th century, drawings ofthe temple, date 1809 and 1820, show the remains ofthe spire ofthe main temple just behind the Jagamohanana. One sketch of the temple dated December 12, 1809, shows the dilapidated jagamohana with a fragment of the main sanctuary. Another drawing by William George Stephen in 1812 shows only a portion of the Sikhara rising behind the Jagamohana. This water colour drawing depicts two Europeans entering fhe Jagamohana while their horses are standing near the entrance. The sketches of the temple made between 1679 and 1809 indicate the gradual process of ruin of the temple. Andrew Stirling, in 1825, referring to the ruin ofthe main observes, ‘A small section, however, still remains standing, about one hundred and twenty feet in height, which viewed from a distance gives to the ruin a singular appearance, something resembling that of a ship under sail’. The same account is also incorporated in the East India Gazetteer (1828 A.D.) of Walter Hamilton. In 1837, James Fergusson saw and prepared the drawing of the fragment of the main tower. ‘Of the great tower wrote Fergusson, only one fragment-one angle-remains, rising to the height of about 140 to 150 feet’. He remarks on the fragment that “when seen from the sea or from a distance on the other side, its effect is both singular and inexplicable. “Kittoe who visited the site in 1838, reports that of the great tower one comer is still standing to a height of 80 or 100 feet and has (at a distance) the appearance of a crooked column”. Alfred Bond, the Master Attendant at Balasore, visited Konark on February 8, 1839. In his report he says, “The Black Pagoda is inland from the sea about 1 Vi miles, and three remains ofthis min the eastern temple only, the western temple having nearly all fallen down, the only portion ofit still remaining being a portion of a buttress about six feet in diameter and standing about 10 feet, above the eastern Temple, and this portion appears likely to fall on the eastern temple”. From this it is evident that even in 1839, a fragment of the main temple stood about 10 feet (3.05 metres) higher than  Jagamohana.

It was in October 1848, that a terrible gale brought down the remaining fragment ofthe main temple. Rajendra Lala Mitra, who visited the place at the close of 1868 wrote that “temple proper is also now totally dismantled, and forming an enormous mass of stones, studded with a few papal trees here and there, and harbouring snakes, from the dread of which few care to approach it”. Hunter, who visited Konark in 1870, described it as a ruin. In the photographs taken before the repair, the main temple looks like a mound of a debris. When the excavation of the main shrine was undertaken in the early part ofthe 20th century, it was noticed that the sanctum had been buried in a vast heap of debris more than fifty feet high. The volume of accumulation of debris can be imagined from the fact that it was necessary to lay down a light railway and remove all the most colossal blocks ofstone by the aid of a running crane. Causes of Ruin Mystery surrounds the monument as regards the fall of the main temple. There is something enigmatic about the ruin of Konark temple, when temples of nearly similar dimensions at Puri and Bhubaneswar, which were erected long before it, are still standing without major decay. Several theories have been put forward to explain the causes. Some scholars are inclined to believe that a natural catastrophe like earthquake or lightning brought about the collapse of the temple. However tradition is silent about any major earthquake in this area. Even if we assume that the main temple collapsed because of a severe earthquake shock, it is difficult to explain why this did not affect the Jagamohana which is just near it, as no effect of that tremor in shape of long cracks is noticed on it. Lightning also could hardly have caused the destruction of the temple.

In the first decade of the present century, the Jagamohana was twice struck by lightning but no major damage was reported. A number of scholars ascribe the origin of the ruin to the subsidence of its foundations. James Fergusson, for example, was inclined to think that the failure of the marshy foundation that  supported so enormous a mass was by far the most probable cause. Rajendra Lala Mitra found in the falling ofthe four internal pillars of the Jagamohana, an additional proof of the sinking of the ground and observed, “what has unquestionably happened in the porch may be fairly assumed to have occurred in the temple”. However, this conjecture is not corroborated by the actual examination of the temple. The engineers of the Archaeological Survey of India, who have supervised the large scale repair of the temple since 1952, have not detected any instability of the foundations. There is no doubt that the temple was built on thick layer of sandal but in course of time it became compact. The plinth, according to experts could have suffered settlement in the early stage of construction but now cracks related to settlement are not visible on the walls. As yet no continuous cracks in the walls have been reported. The excavation ofthe foundation to a depth of four meters has shown that the foundation has not stepped out beyond the plan area of the plinth. The assessment of temple by the UNESCO experts in 1987 confirms “that the foundations are sound”. Bishan Swarup, and following him M.M. Ganguly and Krupasindhu Mishra held that the removal ofthe heavy top slab ofthe main temple by Kalapahar, general of Sulaiman Karrani of Bengal paved the way for the ruin ofthe monument. However, there is no reliable evidence to show that Kalapahar was responsible for the ruin of the temple. Kalapahar no doubt attacked Orissa in 1568 and desecrated the Jagannath temple.

This is mentioned in the Madala Panji and other local texts like the Chakadapothi. Niamatullah in his Makhazan-I-Afghan and Abul Fazl in the Ain-I-Akbari, mention Kalapahar’s raid on the Jagannath temple. But these texts are silent about his attack on Konark temple. Depending on a local tradition, Krupasindhu Mishra was inclined to believe that Kalapahar attacked the Konark temple. It is said that when Kalapahar attempted to desecrate the Ramachandi temple, the goddess Ramachandi cleverly avoided  him. She appeared as a woman and, asking Kalapahar to wait near the door, went away with a pitcher to bring water. Kalapahar waited in vain and later realized the trick ofthe goddess. However, the same episode without the name Kalapahar occurs in the Oriya Mahabharata of Sarala Das. In the story, Ramachandi is represented as outwitting one Bada Chudanga by leaving her shrine with a pitcher in her hand. Saral Das flourished nearly a century before Kalapahar. Hence the episode associated with Kalapahar, appears to be a later interpolation. There is a tradition that the temple was destroyed as a result of the curse of the sage Gautama on account of the immorality ofthe Sun-god. We are inclined to believe that the story, as given in one version of Sarala’s Mahabharata is probably a late interpolation. A similar story - that the temple collapsed as a result ofthe curse ofthe sage Sumanyu-is narrated by Radhanath Ray (1848-1908) in his lyrical work Chandrabhaga. It is not desirable to attach any historical importance to such stories. The profusion of erotic sculptures on the walls of Konark, possibly led to the currency of such stories regarding the immorality of the Sun-god and when the temple came to ruin, people believed it to be a punishment for such moral laxity.

It is therefore, not possible to extract any historical information from such legends. In 1825, Andrew Stirling mentioned the story ofthe Kumbha Pathar or load stone, lodged on the summit of the temple. When it was removed in the Mughal times, by the crew of a ship the priests, at the violation of the sanctity, removed the image ofthe god to Puri temple and from that time the temple became deserted and went rapidly to ruin. The drawing ashore of ships by the magnetic properties of the kumbha pathar appears improbable. It would have been a sheer impossibility to use iron implements near the temple had such a thing been a reality. The old sailing directories do not refer to such a phenomenon. However the desecration of the temple in the Moghul period is a historical probability, although a more specific conclusion must await positive evidence. The tradition that the temple was desecrated and abandoned  during the reign of Narasimhadeva of the Khurda royal family appears to be historically probable. One version of the Madala Panji relates: “Maharaja Sri Narasimhadeva, grandson of Maharaja Ramachandradeva, and son of Maharaja Purusottamadeva, came from Puri to see the temple (of Konark) in the 9th Anka of his reign (i.e., the 7th regional year) on the 21st day of the month of Mina, on a Monday, which corresponds to the 7th tithi. At that time Bakhar Khan was governing the Subah of Orissa under Sahahseli Badshah (Salim, Jahagir) the emperor of Delhi. Because of the atrocities of this Daemana (Yavana), the idol of Surya called Maitraditya-virancideva, had been removed to Niladri mahotsava temple situated within the enclosure of Purusottama temple (Jagannath temple of Puri)”.

The Maharaja saw the temple and got it measured. Maharaj Narasimhadeva ruled from 1621 to 1647 A.D. The date of his visit to Konark corresponds to March 17, 1628. Baqar Khan was one ofthe most oppressive Mughal Subedars of Orissa. J.N. Sarakar on the basis of a Persian work, Masir-ul-Umara, gives an account of his oppression over the peasants and zamindars. Therefore he was removed on June 24, 1632. It is not known whether during his period of governorship, Baqr Khan led an expedition to Konark temple in order to obtain its treasure. The measurements of the temple, taken in 1628 show that the main temple was without the kalasa and the lotus finial. It is likely that the kalasa had been dislodged either under the impression of its being of solid gold (kanaka kalasa) or in the belief that it contained wealth. The hypothesis of desecration of the temple, however, has not been corroborated by Mughal official sources. It is known from the travelogue of Mahmud bin-Amir Wali, that during his visit to Konark temple in 1626, the temple was not under worship. All the available versions of the Madala Panji agree that the Sun-god of Konark was removed to the Jagannatha temple during the reign ofNarasimhadeva, though the exact role of the Muslim governor of Orissa is yet to be established on the basis of evidence. The desecration of the Konark temple during this chaotic period was a serious blow to the religious life of Orissa. In the circumstances, the repair of the temple and the reinstallation of the deity were almost an impossible task. A brief reference to the political conditions of Orissa may help us to understand the situation. In 1568, with the death of Mukundadeva, Orissa lost her independence and the territory passed into the hands of the Afgan rulers of Bengal. Subsequently, Orissa was occupied by the Mughals. In 1592 Akbar’s hold over Orissa was firmly established, when Man Singh conquered the territory and assumed the governorship of Bengal and Orissa.

In the reign of Jahagir, the Mughal control over Orissa was further consolidated, and a number of Subedars governed the province. When we take into account the political condition and the status ofthe Khurda Raja, it is not difficult to imagine how it was not possible on his part to protect the temple. By that time Jagannatha had emerged as the supreme god for the people of Orissa. It is no wonder, therefore, that when the Konark temple was desecrated, the ruler thought it expedient to transfer the worship to the Jagannath temple. Narasimhadeva of the Khurda Raj family was not an exclusive devotee ofthe Sun-god. Therefore it could not be expected that the king would take the lead in reinstalling the Sun-god at Konark. The decline in the status of the exclusive Sun-worshippers may have been another factor for the lack of initiative. The beginning of decay obviously started with the desertion of the temple. The location of the temple near the sea-shore, heavy monsoon rain, growth of vegetation on the temple, sand blast, salt air-all accelerated the process of decay. The building material being khondalite stone and dry bedding ofthe stone blocks together with the use of iron dowels were probably the principal causes which led to cracking and splitting of stone. It is possible that corrosion of iron clamps, caused by salty water, led to splitting of stone for which they got detached. It is possible that due to expansion of iron beams or due to cracking, the internal pillars collapsed which led to the fall of the lower ceiling of the Jagamohan. To ensure permanence and durability of the structure was a difficult task, for such task required that every stone should be tested for its quality, and strength, for each, forming a link in a chain, was responsible for the durability ofthe whole fabric. If a particular stone was crushed because of its inferior quality or if lost areas on the temple developed because of weather effect, the whole equilibrium of the temple would be affected.

In the case of Konark temple it is probable that some stones, because of their heterogeneous quality and the effects of weather, were dislodged and were not promptly repaired. The sheer vastness and heavy weight of the monument would result in the collapse of the structure. This process chiefly affected the main temple because it had a tall tower. In the case of the Jagamohana the pyramidal form of the roof and the comparatively broader base prevented the vertical line through the centre of gravity from falling outside the base. That it was not possible to test the stones to ensure their quality, is easily understandable because ofthe nature ofthe work, which continued for many years and involved the employment of so many persons. The felspar rich khondalites with which the Konark temple is built are subject to quick decay, as the constituent felspar are altered to soft powdery kaolin through the action of water. In general, however, khondalite stone has lasted well. In 250 years, it has been estimated that St. Paul’s Cathedral, London built of best Portland stone, has eroded by 30 mm and in case of Norwich Cathedral 95% of the outer stones have been renewed during nine centuries. The average decay of carved stone at Konark is only 2.4 mn. The proximity of the temple to the sea, which has adde’d to its beauty, has proved to be a great disadvantage for the long life of the monument. Besides the cyclones and sand-storms, the effects of the saline sea-breeze have done much to account for the gradual deterioration of the monument. As already mentioned the extant fragment of the sanctuary  was blown down by a terrible gale which occurred in October 1848.

During conservation ofthe Jagamohana it has been reported that collapse ofthe Sikhara has caused a large hole in the roof of the Jagamohana. It is known from the account of Andrew Stirling that during his time the local people took away iron clamps from the decorated building. He mentions that “the officers of the Marhatta government actually let down a part of the walls, to procure materials for building some insignificant temples at Puri”. As has been pointed out, the Aruna pillar which stood in front of the Jagamohana of Konark temple was brought to Puri by the Marathas. No record exists of how, in course oftime, stones and images were removed from the deserted site. The clearance of sand from the enclosure showed that the compound wall had been robbed of its stones. Several images from Konark have found their way into the private collection of individuals and different museums of the world. Even a casual look at the Jagamohana will convince us that the khakhara and pidha-mudis have been robbed of their sculptures. In the last century, as Fergusson remarks, “The temple itself had a narrow escape from being employed to build a light house on false-point as the fort and palace of Barabati at Cuttack were pulled down for this laudable purpose”. In 1837 some of the finest parts of the Jagamohana were destroyed by the Raja of Khurda. “The Raja of Khoordah applied to the late magistrate Mr. Wilkinson for permission to bring away some black and white stones with which to repair a part ofthe temple at Jagannath. Permission was given and the Raja not only carried away the stones which were lying on the ground but dismantled the building. The Raja removed some statues to his residence and pulled down the navagraha slab which adorned the eastern doorway of the Jagamohana. Before that could be removed to Puri he was directed to remove no more stones of any kind”. Not only the Khurda Raja, but also other persons took away images from Konark.

The Asiatic Society attempted to remove the Navagraha slab to its museum in Calcutta and in 1892 the slab was cut into two pieces to reduce its weight.  In 1893 eleven sculptures were removed to the Indian museum, Calcutta. These offer examples as to how private parties as well as institutions became eager to remove sculptures from the monument. One major factor which hastened the process of ruin was the absence of timely repair. After the temple was abandoned it was never repaired. The continuance of the Muslim domination did not create the necessary atmosphere for undertaking the repair. The temple of Konark was not destined to last long in a perfect condition without repair. That the temple was not repaired during the memory of man is almost a fact. In 1929 a stone which was covered with moss and lichens, was examined by a reputed Botanist, Dr. P. Parija, who found 357 layers on it. It was surmised that one raipy season is necessary for one layer; 357 years must have elapsed for the formation of 357 layers. From this it is evident that since 1573 A.D., the monument has not been properly looked after. In a tropical country like India, when a monument is left abandoned, in course of time, it is covered by vegetation. Not only does this disfigure tfye monument, but in time the roots ofthe plants work their way into the masonry and tear it to pieces. The temple of Konark experienced a similar fate when the vegetation was not removed. In view of long years of neglect, there is nothing surprising about the dilapidation ofthe Konark temple.

The decay rather appears to have been slow and a natural one. From the accounts of Stirling, Fergusson and Rajendra Lala Mitra, it can be asserted that even in the last century, for lack of repair, the temple was ruined gradually and slowly. The fragarment of the sanctuary, which Stirling and others saw during their visits, could possibly have been preserved, had the British government desired it. Conservation The initiative to preserve the monument came from the Marine Board as the temple served as an excellent landmark for the sailors. So they wanted to ensure that no alteration of appearance ofJagamohana is made by way of human vandalism. Alfred Bond, Master Attendant, Balasor who inspected the Black Pagoda on February, 8, 1839 reported that the eastern temple (i.e. Jagamohana) is not likely to stand, more especially, should that portion remaining ofthe western temple (i.e. deula) fall on it. He proposed that to prevent the falling ofthe western temple on the eastern one the former be pulled down and the latter be blocked up and centre be filled to dome without any substantial change of appearance to be quite efficient as a landmark for maritime purpose but nothing substantial was done. In 1858 J.B. Mactier, the officiating collector of Puri, examined the Black Pagoda and found that the work ofruin there is proceeding most rapidly. As the monument was covered with vegetation he sought permission from the commissioner to spend Rs.50/- from the town improvement fund for removing it.

He proposed that to preserve the Jagamohana the top ofthe building should be supported by the pillars of masonry or the entire interior should be filled with stones and sand. But G.F. Cockburn, the commissioner, replied that, ‘There is no reason whatever why a single rupee should be expended in keeping up the present detestable remaining part ofthe old temple’. In fact till 1881 not a single rupee was spent on its preservation. In 1881, the commissioner of Orissa directed the Magistrate of Puri to take necessary steps for the conservation ofthe temple. However, the fund sanctioned was not adequate for a large scale repair. The vegetation which covered the roof was cleaned, the guardian animals like the elephants and horses were placed on special platforms, and the pair of lions on elephants were placed on the top of a mound, which proved to be in the Natamandira. Till the end of the century no major structural repair was undertaken for “want of funds”. In 1886 C.F. Worsley, Commissioner, Orissa Division noted ‘No architectural remains in this division can be preserved without a large expenditure and Government will not expend a pie. So the bundle may be filled’. In 1901, a new phase in the history of the temple began when major steps were taken to preserve the monuments. To save the jagamohana from possible collapse, the four entrances  were permanently closed. On the southern side a modern buttressing wall was provided for better preservation. Bishan Swarup, Executive Engineer in charge of conservation work, described the filling up the interior ofthe Jagamohana in 1903 as follows: “It was at first proposed to fill in the inside of the building with hand packed stones up to height of 40 feet, and then build a central pillar to support ofthe roof. This proposal was after awards given up, as it was found the pillar could not stop but rather help, the falling in of the corbelled roof the horizontal arch pattern.

It was then decided to fill the inside up to the top with sand after closing the doorways, and lining the walls all round with dry stone masonry, 15 feet wide, to counter balance the enormous horizontal thrust ofthe sand. The inner portion ofthe roof, which was badly damaged especially on the south and west sides, was repaired. This latter work was rather difficult, but it was, I may say, wellmanaged. For filling work the northern door which was in better condition that the other two was kept open, the other two having been closed. An opening was left in the dry masonry lining also and provided with girder lintels so that the masonry could be taken up to the roof. The room being quite dark after the eastern and southern doors were closed, the work had to be done with lamp lights in day time. After the masonry was completed, sand filling was done to such a height as could be managed through the northern door that was afterwards closed. The work could now be done only through the hole made in the pyramidal roof on the western side by the fall ofthe main tower... This hole was in its turn closed after the work of sand filling that could be done through it was done. To complete the sand filling a 3 inch hole was made vertically from the top by means of a diamond drill. This was 25 feet in length, and sand was poured through it by means of a funnel”. The above mentioned work was completed in 1904 and since then there is no access into the interior of Jagamohana. As a result ofthe removal ofthe sand and debris, the platform ofthe temple with wheels and horses, the Natamandira, the ruined sanctuary, the Simhasana, the so called Chayadevi temple, etc. gradually came to light. By 1910 the essential work for the preservation of the monument was over. Without understanding the importance ofthe work ofthe conservators and their problems, it can be said that they failed to do justice to the temple. In case of Konark, the conservators can legitimately be blamed for the way they handled this edifice. If they wanted, they could have made use of the carved fragments at the appropriate places and the monument would have presented a better look. Since 1939 the Archaeological Survey of India has been responsible for the conservation ofthe monument and from 1952- 53 the temple has been undergoing special repairs as a result of the recommendations of a Committee of Experts appointed by the Government of India.

The Archaeological Survey of India had taken appropriate steps to make the temple watertight by grouting of foundation, rectification of slope and replacement of rusted iron dowels by copper dowels. The ruined compound wall has been reconstructed serving as a rectangular path around the temple to view to temple from various angles. The sand has been removed from the compound and to prevent drifting of sand, and salty breeze, extensive plantation of casuarin plantation has been undertaken to provide screening effect. Apart from structural conservation, chemical conservation has been pursued to prevent growth of moss and lichen. Salt affected sculptures are subjected to paper pulp treatment, cracks and fissures are treated with epoxy resin. The walls are periodically subjected to fungicidal treatment and preservative coats are applied. The temple is examined by experts to study various aspects of conservation. On the whole the structure is stable and does not pose any serious problem. The remains of the main temple, survives to height of 10 meters and has no structural problems. The superstructure of Jagamohana, as a whole, is safe. But the Jagamohan remains packed with sand and stone. It has been claimed by some experts that the sandfill is not required for the overall strength of Jagamohana. The inspection has also revealed that the sandfill is  about 4 meters below the base of the amala. Therefore, sand is not giving support to the upper part ofthe Jagamohana as originally intended. Hence the Archaeological Survey of India is seriously considering to remove the sand filling. If there is no imminent danger to the Jagamohana, no tempering of the monument is desirable. If removal of sand is considered essential, it may be done from the top in a careful manner by continuous monitoring of its effect on the stability ofthe monument. In 1985 the Bhubaneswar circle ofthe Archaeological Survey of India was formed and it has helped to handle the problem of conservation. In 1984, the Sun temple, Konark being considered to be of outstanding universal value to humanity, was listed as a World Heritage site. In spite ofmeticulous care and the sustained efforts of the conservators, the salt air constantly blowing from the sea, is slowly contributing to stone erosion and with passage of time the minute carving may become indistinct. As Professor A.L. Basham has said “ifthe world wishes Konark to be preserved for posterity, action and expensive action such as a developing country cannot afford alone must be taken quite soon”.

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