We arrived in Bhubaneshwar early in the morning and went straight to the hotel. This was a Hilton Hotel very much organized with American style and taste and we felt right at home. Bhubaneshwar is the capital of a state called Orissa on the east side of India. The Bay of Bengal is the ocean that hugs the beaches.
This area has a tremendous history for Buddhists. In 240 BC, a mauryan emperor Ashoka fought a very fierce battle 10 kms south of this town, (nearly 150,000 were killed) was very upset with the bloodshed and convertedto Buddhism and helped promote it all over India and abroad. He sent emissaries to Sri Lanka, China, Burma, Japan, Korea and made Buddhism a state religion. His empire overed most of what is modern India. After that empire collapsed several years later, the country was pretty much broken up into smaller kingdoms until the British consolidated it in 1857.
Over the centuries, the rulers of Bhubaneshwar hae brought 10,000 Bramhins and build many temples for Lor Shiva. Over 7000 temples were built in a period of 6 centuries.
About 70 kms from Bhubaneshwar, is the famoue temple built in honor of the sun. This temple at Konarak now declared as a UNESCO heritage site. The entire temple is built in the shape of a horse drawn chariot. There are seven wheels (3.5 m in diameter) named for each day of the week. Each wheel has very intricate carvings and can also be used as a clock by observing the shadow of a element at the center of the wheel.. They said the accuracy is within 3 minutes.
The carvings on the sand stone rocks are spectacular. They cover a wide range of topics including erotica, daily life of the people in the period, animals (I even saw a Giraff – must have had contact with Africa), elephants working, Lions etc. The attention to detail is pretty spectacular. The size of stones used to build the temple is about 10 ft long 3 feet high and 3 feet deep. I have some wonderful pictures to share with you when we return.
After a few hours here, I went to Puri the home of Jagganath (our word Juggernaught comes from here). Every year in June/July period in this famous temple are placed on specially built charriots and pulled down the main street (3 kms), and brought back after a week. The interesting thing is that the charriots are all made of wood, and are built in a 3 month period by the descendents of the families that originally built them. These days they just donate their labor for food and do not accept any salary. The orginal families received land as compensation and this is still owned by the same families. After the procession of the diety (called Ratha Yatra), the charriot is torn down and the wood given away to the poor. The wood is not used again. It is a very unique temple indeed.