The Sun Temple at Konarak - 1847
This is plate 3 from James Fergusson's 'Ancient Architecture in Hindoostan'. The sun temple at Konarak is one of the most famous of all India's temples, and considered a supreme achievement of Oriya architecture. Europeans in Fergusson's time knew it as the Black Pagoda, a reference to deserted sites that locals described as kala, meaning empty.
The structure was designed to represent the sun god Surya's chariot, pulled by seven horses, with its 24 wheels decorated with symbolic designs. Believed to have been built in the mid-13th century by Narasimhadeva of the Eastern Ganga dynasty, the temple lapsed into ruin when the 227 feet high main tower, collapsed. The exterior is richly decorated with sculpture, some of which dismayed Fergusson by its "obscenity". Nonetheless, he admired it; writing: "There is altogether so much consonance in the parts and appropriateness in the details, that the effect of the whole is particularly charming."
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