Saturday, April 9, 2016

H for Heritage

Welcome to the "Believe it or Not- That's Incredible India!" series. India is home to some of the most astonishing wonders in the world. The rich culture, heritage, food, scriptures, architectural marvels and scores of known and unknown facts come together to create this multicolored melange that is India. Throughout this month, read about the various believe it or not facts about India and know what goes into the making of this incredible country!


The UNESCO has listed 981 world heritage sites in the world. Of these 32 sites are in India. We have heard and probably visited the most famous of these heritage sites like the Khajuraho temples, the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, the Agra Fort, Jantar Mantar, Bodh Gaya, Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, Elephanta, Ajanta and Ellora caves, The stupa at Sanchi, and the temple ruins at Hampi.

A lot of national parks and sanctuaries make it to the list too.  The Great Himalayan national park, Western ghats, Sunderbans national park, Nanda Devi and the Valley of flowers, Keoladeo national park, Manas wildlife sanctuary, and the Kaziranga wildlife sanctuary are the ones that have made it to the list.

And then there are lesser known UNESCO sites like Mahabalipuram, Chola temples at Brihadeshvara, The Churches of Goa , Pattadakal, Rani ki Vav, the Mountain railways of India, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the rock shelters of Bhimbetka, the hill forts of Rajasthan, and the Champaner archeological park.

Each of these places is unique in its own way, displaying stunning architectural details, sculptures that take your breath away and beauty that is unparalleled making every one of these places a worthy member of the prestigious list. Here’s one such UNESCO site that will leave you agape in wonder.

The Konark Sun temple-

The Konark sun temple on the eastern coast of Odisha is nothing short of a marvel! The temple as the name indicates the temple is dedicated to the Sun God – Surya, and is designed in the shape of a massive chariot with twelve pairs of wheels drawn by seven horses. The Kalinga architecture is amazing, but what is truly a scientific marvel are the wheels. Mind you, these are no ordinary wheels, they can tell the time – precisely to the minute! They are Konark’s prestigious Sundials!

How does one tell time at Konark?

The wheel is divided by sixteen spokes, eight thick ones and eight thin ones. The distance between two thick spokes is three hours. And the distance between a thin spoke and a thick spoke is one and a half hour. At the circumference of the wheel are small beads placed closely. Between a thick spoke and a thin spoke, there are 30 beads. So each bead corresponds to 3 minutes. Each bead can be further divided into three parts and that is how you can tell time precisely to the minute!

All you have to do is, place your finger on the center of the wheel and see where the shadow falls. That shows the exact time. The wheel shows time in an anti-clockwise direction.

What’s also amazing is the presence of iron plates between every two stones used to build the main sanctum. A 52-ton magnet was used to create the peak to hold the structure in place.

The temple also had a diamond positioned in the middle of the idol in such a way that the sun’s rays would get reflected by the diamond and fall on the idol. During the colonial rule, the magnets, and the diamond were removed.

Believe it or not - That's Incredible India!

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