The unintended resemblance to the journey movie series ends with the name, because Journey to the Golden Triangle which is the most visited part of Eastern India is an adventure in itself!
A very hectic day 2 of my trip to Odisha starts with a visit to the family grocery store. If you’re thinking of a swanky mart associated with a high-end retailer’s brand name, you couldn’t be more wrong!
From cereals and chips to detergents and insect repellents, basically everything was present here! And Mind you, It was a cart!!! No, I’m not kidding.
And did I mention vegetables and fruits? Yes, that too! Definitely a one-man show. Kudos to the owner who was very meticulous (to the point of exasperation) in weighing the rice that we ordered..
As is considered auspicious in our land, our drive began with a stop at a sweet-meat shop where I got to taste ‘Jhilli’, a heart-shaped sweet that is reminiscent of Gulab Jamun but it holds its own!
The highlight of our drive to Konark was the story of the legend of Kala Pahad and the reason why the roof of the sanctum of the Sun temple is said to be incomplete.
Now the Sun temple, unlike others of its name does NOT have a deity to worship. Our Guide told us that when this was built, way back in 1250 by the then king Narasimhadeva, there was a grand throne which the first ray of the rising sun would illuminate. Apparently,in comparison to the whole of Bharat, this was where the first golden light would fall.
The collapse of the sanctum is a mystery mired in a lot of theories. It is said that The King’s architect was given an ultimatum of 3 days, despite the 12 years and 1200 architects it took, for this marvel to take shape. Unknown to the King, the Architect Bisu Maharaj’s son proposed and implemented a solution, But instead of rejoicing over a 12 yr old’s innovation, the artisans held him responsible to their sad plight if the king discovered the secret. He was said to have jumped to his death from atop this very roof to protect the artisans. The temple was considered inauspicious then but this claim is unfounded as even much later, worship of the Sun god is found in records.
Another theory suggests that Kala Pahad (literally Black Hill-the destroyer) is said to have invaded and destroyed many places of religious significance like Konark, Puri, Sambalpur etc. Most of the figurines remain destroyed till date due to the evil unleashed by him and subsequently the Mughals.
Anyways, what’s done is done, it’s now upto us to preserve our legacy, however be the ruins. Our Archaeology department is doing a fine job restoring it.
It is common knowledge that the Sun temple was built to resemble a chariot with 12 wheels signifying the 12 months of a year. But I was amazed to know that each wheel represented a sundial bearing 8 divisions. The gap between the spokes equivalent to 3 hours or 1 Prahar and 8*3=24 hours of the day!
Our Guide measured the shadow his hand made with the dial and estimated the time, exact to the correct minute, 1:18, pm as we looked on astonished! Imagine India’s supremacy with Math and the Universe. Phew!
The intricacies of the Workmanship is truly astounding as detailed work is given to even the smallest design. Each wheel has a different story to tell and the temple also has various avatars of the Sun, the morning sun being young and hopeful (said to indicate birth), the noon sun burning bright and harsh( Exuberates youth) and the setting sun characterized by the sun god on a horse(old age). But again, the remains are few. Unbelievably, most of the temple work is held together by iron clips. Entry to the interiors is banned owning to the efforts of the Archaeological Survey of India.
The temple is adorned with explicitly erotic images and one can only wonder at their inclusion in a sacred spot. Perhaps it was to educate the masses or as some studies reveal, it was a belief at warding off calamities. The presence of these figurines attracted the wrath of the Mughals who defaced plenty of them. I wasn’t convinced with the Guide’s logic when he said these were built to check the dedication of the people who came to pray. If your mind wandered you weren’t considered devout. Well, that would be obvious!
My mind fluttered and I confess that to stay and experience the aura of this place under a moonlit night, now that would be a perfect date!
Lucky are those who get to perform here for the Cultural festival held here every year.
It is while admiring the stonework that the enormity of the situation strikes you. To be able to experience grandeur of this scale, even though much has been lost to time and tide ( the Sun temple has been witness to various marauders, the coastal air and much recently cyclone Phailin) ..it’s a humbling experience.
Rabindranath Tagore summed it up perfectly when he remarked
“Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man.”
I left with a lot of memories and a promise to return.
The way to Puri is marked with pristine shorelines and you cannot resist the urge to stop and admire the view.
The beach was so clear even on a blazing afternoon that I really wished that I had the time to come here early morning and enjoy the tranquility. Definitely on my next visit!
Enter Jagganath Puri, the city of the “Lord Of the Universe”, famed for its yearly Rath Yatras. My first impression was that I was entering another Tirupathi. Our vehicle was stopped 2 miles away from the temple due to security reasons. Not having much say in the matter, I was whisked away in a cycle rickshaw where I kept hoping the whole wobbly thing wouldn’t collapse because of my weight. It was all those sweets, I tell you! And Yes, you have to experience the crawl of this cycle. It’s simply weird and scary.
Say Jagannath with a little bit of accent and istyle and you’ll hear yourself mutter a pretty powerful word-Yes, you now know the etymological origin of the word Juggernaut! Fascinating no?
This is one the four Dham places in India. Jagannath is a form of Vishnu, The two other idols are Balabhadra and Shubadra. And this main temple being dotted with innumerable others! I was engulfed in a massive crowd as I entered the sanctum and there was jostling all around! The aura exuded and the fervour of the ‘Jai Jagannath’ chanting was pretty intense and we lost track of time as light faded away(our watches and cellphones were kept out).
One final stop before reaching home was Peepli- home to some amazing handicrafts that Orissa has to offer. In fifteen minutes I grabbed a few mementos and rushed back..
All this while we hadn’t eaten lunch and I must say there’s Nothing like Aunty’s steaming home cooked meal to make up for the day that we traversed the Golden triangle( which by the way is the tourist circuit of Puri, Konark and Bhubaneshwar).
And what a day that was !