October 12, 2009

Temple Visits in Orissa

Filed under: Economics,Leisure,Orissa,Religion — loggers @ 12:52 am

To complete our visit to Orissa, we dedicated a day to visiting the Konark ruins and the Jagannath temple. The ruins of Konark, one of the 4 sun temples in India, are located ~65km outside of Bhubaneshwar on the road to Puri. While a guide is helpful for explaining the history behind the construction/destruction of the temple, this information can also be found easily on Wikipedia. What we found fascinating were the intricate, and graphic, carvings on the temple walls.

The Konark temple ruin

The Konark temple ruin

The enormous wheels that border the temple were geometrically designed as timetables- depicting what people should be doing at different times of the day under social norms. Most of the other 100’s of carvings on the walls had one defining feature in common- they were all depiction of the kama sutra. A barrage of positions will keep you engaged as you stroll around the main structure, and a guide would be able to provide interesting insight as some may be difficult to decipher. The morning, mid-day, and evening sun gods overlook the grounds, and each is given the spotlight during his respective hour while you find the others in the shade. The geometrical precision and cultural boldness in the carvings make for an eye-opening spiritual/historical experience.

Timetable wheel in the midday shadow

Konark wheel in midday shadow



The Jagannath temple, located in the city of Puri[1], is more aligned with what we are used to seeing in Hindu places of worship. We left our cameras and phones in the car, because photography is prohibited, and headed up the 2km road to the temple on rickshaws. The shrewd locals have capitalized on this being one of the most popular religious destinations in the world, erecting dharamsalas lining both sides of the road. Later that evening, the city market was buzzing with a peculiar energy. Fish vendors, local pujas, rickshaw wallahs and snack stalls were all in action, while an old-fashioned cremation was taking place just off the road. Everyone was spending money in some way or another and contributing to the unofficial “C” that is not reflected in India’s GDP. This sparked thoughts on the suffocating grip that religion holds over the Indian economy…

What would happen if a Prime Minister ever announced that s/he was an atheist?

Can the number of religious holidays/occasions ever be curbed in the interest of productivity?

What is the country’s ratio of temples to schools or hospitals?

…Just food for thought

Puri beach- the Goa of the East

Puri- the Goa of East India

[1] Puri is also home to one of India’s cleanest beaches (comparable to Goa), where dolphins are occasionally spotted.


1 Comment »

  1. since you have used word hub ,but i think that kanyakumari-suchidram belt in Tamilnadu is the greatest temple hub of this country . i had just calculated ,a journalistic exercise, that temple , i mean religious places are biggest industry and economy of our country .they also provide empoloyment to roughly 10 crore people . there turnover is around 10000 carore .

    you people must visit greatest place of faith industry tirupati – kanyakumari – rameshwaram . all are overnight journy by train . by the way if you go to rameshwaram ,then go to karaikudi’s places . a traders community village . go to net for karaikudi or chettinad .you are larning fast abt our country .

    Comment by JUGNU SHARDEYA — October 12, 2009 @ 9:50 am | Reply

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