The Sun Temple is a tourist site in India that Mr. Das and Mrs. Das and their children visit, accompanied by their tour guide Mr. Kapasi. On one hand, the ancient temple symbolizes the cultural heritage that all of these characters share, given that they all have roots in India. On the other hand, the characters’ contrasting relationship to the Sun Temple signals the cultural gulf that exists between Indians and Indian Americans. Although the Das family is of Indian origin, and the temple is therefore a part of its history, the family approaches the site strictly as tourists: Mrs. Das displays a distinct impatience upon learning how far they must drive to reach the temple, suggesting a lack of excitement about or respect for the site, while Mr. Das relies on his guidebook for information about it—information that, in fact, proves inaccurate. Having spent their entire lives in America, the Das family are more American than Indian, and their identity is reflected in their distanced, touristic attitude to the temple.
Mr. Kapasi, however, is much more closely connected to the temple than the family he chaperones. He is intimately familiar with the site, which he refers to as one of his “favorite places,” and readily shares his knowledge about it with the Das family. This, of course, is partly because of his work as a tour guide, yet Lahiri suggests that the connection that Mr. Kapasi feels to the site is not simply because of his work. Unlike the Americanized Das family, Mr. Kapasi has spent his entire life in India and, it follows, identifies much more closely with Indian culture and heritage. As such, the intimacy that he feels is borne out of his physical as well as his cultural proximity to the site, a proximity that, regardless of their ethnic background, the Das family does not share with him.
The Sun Temple Quotes in Interpreter of Maladies
They reached Konarak at two-thirty. The temple, made of sandstone, was a massive pyramid-like structure in the shape of a chariot. It was dedicated to the great master of life, the sun […] “It says the temple occupies about a hundred and seventy acres of land,” Mr. Das said, reading from his book.