IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


11th September, 2023 Culture

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  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose a wall depicting the historic Konark Wheel of Odisha’s Sun Temple as the backdrop for his welcome handshake with world leaders at the G20 Summit venue.


  • The Konark Temple, also known as the Sun Temple of Konark, and the Konark Wheel, are two interconnected aspects of a remarkable cultural and architectural legacy in India.

Konark Temple

Historical Background

  • The Konark Temple is located in Konark, a town in the Puri district of Odisha.
  • It was constructed in the 13th century during the reign of King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty.

Architectural Marvel

  • The Konark Temple is renowned for its stunning and intricate architecture. It is designed in the shape of a colossal chariot with 12 pairs of stone-carved wheels, representing the chariot of the Sun God.
  • The temple is built using Khondalite rocks, which are locally available and intricately carved to depict various mythological and religious themes.
  • The temple's main sanctum, originally housing an idol of the Sun God, has partially collapsed over time, but many beautifully carved structures, pillars, and sculptures still stand.

Sun Temple and Astronomy

  • The Konark Temple is dedicated to the Sun God, Surya, and is designed to capture the first rays of the rising sun.
  • It is a significant representation of ancient Indian astronomy and timekeeping. The wheels of the temple served as sundials and timekeepers.
  • The temple is designed in such a way that its main entrance is aligned with the east-west axis, allowing the first rays of the morning sun to fall on the Sun God's idol.

Sculptural Grandeur

  • The temple is adorned with intricate sculptures that depict various aspects of Hindu mythology, daily life, and cultural elements.
  • The erotic sculptures at Konark Temple are famous for their bold and artistic representations, showcasing human passion and sensuality.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • The Konark Temple complex was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, recognizing its cultural and architectural significance.

Konark Wheel

  • The Konark Wheel, also known as the Konark Chakra, is an iconic symbol associated with the Konark Temple.
  • The wheel symbolizes the Sun God's chariot and serves as a representation of the cosmic cycle and the concept of time in Hindu mythology.


  • The Konark Temple is designed in the shape of a massive chariot drawn by seven spirited horses.
  • The temple is adorned with 12 pairs of gorgeously decorated wheels at its base, making a total of 24 wheels.
  • Each wheel has a diameter of 9 feet 9 inches and features 8 wider spokes and 8 thinner spokes.
  • These wheels are positioned in various parts of the temple, with 6 on either side of the main temple, 4 on each side of the Mukhasala (front assembly hall), and 2 on each side of the steps at the eastern front.
  • The Konark Wheel is adorned with intricately carved spokes and other ornamental details.
  • It is a marvel of ancient stone carving and craftsmanship, reflecting the technical and artistic expertise of the artisans of that era.


  • Various theories exist regarding the significance of the Konark Wheel.
  • According to one interpretation, the seven horses represent the days of the week, the 12 pairs of wheels symbolize the 12 months of the year, and the 24 wheels represent the 24 hours of a day, with the 8 major spokes denoting three-hour periods (prahars) of a day.
  • Another interpretation suggests that the wheels symbolize the cycle of creation, preservation, and realization, akin to the "Wheel of Life."
  • Some believe the 12 pairs of wheels may represent the 12 zodiac signs.
  • Others draw parallels between the Konark Wheel and the Dharmachakra, the Wheel of Karma, in Buddhist symbolism.

Carvings and Decorations

  • The 24 wheels of the Konark Temple, though similar in size and architecture, feature unique carvings all over.
  • The thicker spokes are adorned with circular medallions at their centers.
  • The axles of the wheels project about one foot from the surface, also decorated at their ends.
  • The rims of the wheels are intricately carved with foliage designs, along with depictions of various birds and animals.
  • The medallions in the spokes of the wheels showcase figures of women in various poses, often of a sensual nature.


Konark Temple and the Konark Wheel are iconic representations of India's cultural and architectural heritage. The temple's intricate design, dedicated to the Sun God, and the symbolic significance of the wheel continue to captivate visitors and scholars alike, making them important cultural and historical landmarks in India.


Q. Consider the following statements regarding the Konark Wheel (Konark Chakra):

  1. The Konark Sun temple stands on a base of a total of 24 intricately carved wheels, 12 on each side.
  2. It symbolizes the chariot of the Sun God, Surya, and is a representation of the cosmic cycle and time in Hindu mythology.
  3. The Konark Wheel is made of bronze and is known for its intricate carvings.

Which of the statements above are correct?

A) 1 and 2

B) 2 and 3

C) 3 and 4

D) 1 and 4

Answer: A)