Nandankanan Zoological Park, Rajarani Temple and Sun Temple in Konark
Sunday, 17 January, we went to the zoological park of Nandankanan about 18 km outside Bhuvaneswar. Our guide took us first to the bear and tiger sections – and it was impressive to see leopards, tigers – even some white ones – and bears in zoo environment quite near to their natural living conditions. At the elephants’ section our guide called one of the zookeepers to come with an elephant. He mounted one of the animals and came directly to our place – a very impressive view. Later we went on a short safari-tour to 4 sections outside the zoo where we could see some tigers, lions, bears and deers outside the zoo walls – a crash-tour without good impressions.
After the tour to the zoo we went to the Rajarani temple in Bhuvaneswar from the 11th century, where preparations for 3 days of Music Festival were going on (we visited it on the 18th). On the walls of the temple there are so-called “erotic” carvings of women and couples – today’s advertisements are much more sexualised than these statues. Though there are no images of Gods inside the temple it is associated with Shiva due to its form.
The archaeological sites look nice but there is no active spiritual activity going on and they seemed to me like the outer shells, where the spirit has gone away.
The same was the case with the Sun Temple in Konark, where we went in the afternoon. It is a Unesco World Heritage site – and surrounded by a huge amounts of souvenir shops waiting for some tourists to stop. After lunch in the village we had a coconut drink on the way to the temple. Before we could enter a self-styled guide had cramped to our group and followed us insistently. Rosa finally took him as her guide, and while he explained the intricacies of the architecture and the place, I kept away to align with the place and to take some photos. (I had read a bit about the temple before…) We were the only “white skins” I could remark. It was interesting to observe the Indians flocking everywhere to take selfies or group pictures with the temple – particularly on lawns with the sign “Do not enter”.
There were some huge old banyan and neem trees near the temple. For a while I touched a banyan tree to connect to its energy – a feeling of something very stable and grounded, silently spreading into the surroundings. Again, you could feel that there are no active spiritual activities going on at the temple – a beautiful messenger of times gone by. The temple and the scaffolding around the tower shone in a golden evening light, a true sun temple.
Next to the temple there was a Navagraha-Temple, devoted to the 9 planets, where some “ritual quickies” were going on. When none of the priests looked, I quickly deposited my flower from the Dhauli Shanti Stupa at one of the planetary spirit statues…
Afterwards we went to the sea where the glowing Sun God was shedding his red gold over the water and slowly faded into the mist, while people were enjoying the view of the ocean.
On the way home we stopped at a small ashram on the wayside. We went in for our evening meditation – and yes, in this simple building with the images of their line of gurus you could feel the vibrant purity of continuous spiritual aspiration.