July 2019

The Konark Sun Temple was built around 1250 CE by king Narasingha Deva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. It is located at Konark, roughly 35 kms north of Puri on the Orissa coastline. The term Konark is derived from the Sanskrit terms Kona (meaning angle) and Arka (meaning sun).

The main spire (bada deul) of the temple once stood 229 feet high, but it collapsed sometime in the 17th or 18th century. It was called the "Black Pagoda" by European sailors as late as 1676, because the massive spire of the temple appeared black when the sailors sailed by the coast. What remains now is the jagamohana or mandapa (assembly hall) which is also an imposing structure with a height of 128 feet.

As per traditional accounts, the inner sanctum (garbagriha) of the temple originally had an idol of the Sun God which was suspended in mid air with the ingenious use of magnetic and diamagnetic (which are repelled by a magnetic field) materials. It is a scientifically established fact that, "diamagnets can be levitated in stable equilibrium in a magnetic field, with no power consumption." Therefore, the traditional accounts could have a grain of truth to it.

The traditional accounts also hold that there used to be a large diamond affixed on the headgear of the Sun God's idol. Since the temple is aligned on a East-West Axis, the first rays of the morning sun used to fall on this diamond and light up the entire sanctum creating a grand spectacle. When Kalapahad, the general of the Sultan of Bengal, destroyed and ransacked the temple in 1568 AD, he took away the diamond and damaged the loadstone. As a result, the main spire began to collapse in stages, and the last standing bit, a small curved section, collapsed in 1848.

The entire temple was conceived of as the chariot of the Sun God, with immense wheels and horses. The monumental design of the temple, along with the highly intricate artwork, is awe-inspiring to say the least. It was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1984. I have visited this temple multiple times, since it is close to the seaside town of Puri with its famous Jagannatha Temple, and each time it has been an enthralling experience.

The Nandi hills are a short drive of 2 hrs from Bangalore. It has a hill fort called Nandidurg, built by Tipu Sultan in the 18th century. While there are many stories regarding the origin of the name Nandi Hills, the locals believe that it got its name from a 1300-year-old Nandi Temple situated on the hill.

It was a pleasant experience trekking on the hill top to visit the places of interest. A guide is recommended for locating some of the off-beat places. The cool air and the scenic views makes it a great day trip from Bangalore.

The Bharhut Stupa was built in the mid-2nd century BCE (c.125 - 100 BCE) in the village of Bharhut, Madhya Pradesh. The stupa dome had collapsed long back, and the torana gateway and stone railings were moved to the Indian Museum in Kolkata.

The stone railings of the Bharhut stupa are unique in the sense that they have been embellished with a profusion of intricate carvings. Moreover, it was quite amazing to see that the carvings on these red sandstone walls have retained their polish and sharp edges even after 2000 years of erosion! 
Earth Ancients radio program with Cliff Dunning where we talk about the possible comet impact in the Indian Ocean at around 3700 BCE that created the Burckle Crater and the chevron dunes off the coast of Madagascar and Western Australia. The tidal waves from this impact may have been responsible for the sinking of the legendary, golden, city of Dwaraka.  

This interview is based on my article: "The Comet Impact in the Indian Ocean that may have submerged Dwaraka".

My discussion with Cliff begins at 51:01 mins into the program.

The Mukteshwar Temple at Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, was built between 960 - 975 AD by the Somavanshi Kings. The term Mukteshwar means "Lord of Freedom", and the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva who grants us freedom from our illusions.

The exquisite carvings on the temple walls, and the unique arched "torana" or gateway, has led this temple to be regarded as the "Gem of Kalinga Architecture". This temple is a must-visit when one is in Bhubaneshwar. The evenings are supposed to be the best time to visit, as the rays of the setting sun falls on the red sandstone walls of the temple.