With determination running through his veins where he sits in his workshop in Lingipur, Smitesh Mohapatra is chasing a forgotten dream. He has taken it upon himself to complete a mission that his grandfather, eminent sculptor and Rajya Sabha MP Raghunath Mohapatra, had embarked upon before Covid snuffed his life out in May this year —to build a replica of the Sun Temple in Konark. He named it the Aditya Narayan (another name of the sun) Temple.
He is accompanied by 68-year-old Antaryami Mangaraj who is carving out a giant wheel at a brisk pace. His mission is to make up for the lost time during the lockdown and complete his guruji’s mission.
Mohapatra, who passed away at the age of 78, had conceived the idea in 2013, after witnessing the sorry state of the 13th-century temple over the centuries. Since then, till he succumbed to the virus, he acquired 100-acre land near Puri, laid the foundation stone and set up the Raghunath Mohapatra Arts and Crafts Foundation that oversees sculpting work and the Aditya Narayan Trust to carry out construction and other necessary work.
The replica will be built 30 km from the original Sun Temple in Konark, between Sakhigopal and Puri, a site chosen by Mohapatra, a Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awardee whose creations include the six-feet-tall graystone statue of the sun god at Central Hall of Parliament and Rajiv Lochan, lotus sculpted on black granite at Rajiv Gandhi Samadhi, Vir Bhumi, in Delhi.
“The Konark Sun Temple is an architectural marvel but unfortunately, more than 70% of it has been damaged. My grandfather visualised the majestic structure and attempted to recreate it. I will try to complete it,” said Smitesh, a 23-year-old management graduate and a sculptor.
While work on the project slowed down considerably after the pandemic broke, sculptors have already created two wheels and a sidewall. The replica is being built with sandstone and black granite, stones used in the original Sun Temple.
Even if the pandemic has dimmed out the dream a bit, the dream is still strong waiting to see the light of the day.
Courtesy: The Times of India