Dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Arya, Konark Sun Temple is one of the renowned temples of India. Located about 35km northeast of the city on the coastline in Orissa, this temple is a striking model of ancient artistry. The first rays of the sun fall on the entrance of the stunning chariot shaped temple. There are several other places to visit in Konark, but the place is known by the name of the temple.
If you are planning a visit to this temple or to the state, this guide is going to help you a lot, so make sure you read it till the end before you pack your bags.
A Quick Look at the History of Konark Sun Temple
This age-old structure has a lot of history surrounding it. A quick recap of some of those:
- It was built as early as the 13th century, by king Narasimhadeva of Eastern Ganga dynasty, to commemorate his victory over Muslim ruler Tughar Khan. So the temple is actually a victory memorial.
- The dark color of the temple led to European sailors calling it by the name ‘Black Pagoda’.
- The temple was built by 12,000 artisans and it took them 12 years to complete it.
- The temple suffered extreme damage during the period 1556 to 1800, some called it natural damage while as per some, it was intentionally ruined by Muslim invaders.
What to Expect in Konark Sun Temple?
Konark is a place in Orissa that occupies the top slot for its sun temple. Before you go to visit this awe-inspiring structure, isn’t it better to be well-informed about its architectural brilliance and the Konark tourism?
The temple is shaped like a giant chariot dedicated to Lord Surya, or sun god. 12 pairs of exquisitely carved stone wheels support the chariot from both sides.
A set of seven horses are depicted as pulling the chariot, 4 on the side, and 3 on the other. Wonder why the odd pairing? One reasoning is that the seven horses represent seven colors of rainbow, emanating from the sun, the source of all light. Sounds logical, right?
Konark temple’s magnet is something that has caught the fancy of many enthusiastic explorers. It is believed that while constructing the temple, a 52-ton magnet was placed on top of the main sanctum. This caused the idol which was partly made of iron to float midair, with no support. But the pull of the magnet kept on top was so strong that it caused lots of shipwrecks by disturbing vessels passing along the coast, hence was removed from its place. All this is hearsay and no one knows the current whereabouts of the Konark temple magnet.
The wheels of the chariots in the temple are, in fact, sundials, which can be used to calculate the exact time by seeing the sunlight falling on its spokes. One cannot but marvel at the scientific brilliance of the craftsmen, even in those days!
There are three deities of sun god placed in three different sides of the temple so that they will capture sun rays falling at dawn, noon and dusk.
Though a large portion of the temple has been ruined, structures that are still standing like Nata Mandapa and Bhoga Mandapa tell volumes about the past glory of the temple.
Outer walls of the temple are adorned with sculptures of wars, animals, dancers, and mythical creatures.
How does Konark Sun Temple Look Today?
Presently, the Sun Temple of Konark stands as a marvelous architectural work, telling the story of a bygone era. In Orissa, it is one of the top tourist destinations and is visited round the year by locals as well as foreign tourists; more than 4000 people visit the temple every day.
If you are going there during the month of December, you can get to see the Konark Dance Festival in the backdrop of the Sun Temple. Held for five days, the dance festival witnesses a number of famous dancers from all over the country. The evening is welcomed with a light and sound show at the temple premises.
There are a number of things that you can see at the Sun temple complex:
- The sun temple structure
- Vaishnava temple has the idols of Varaha, Balarama, and Vamana-Trivikrama, Hindu Gods.
- Bhoga Mandapa (the kitchen) having water cisterns, ovens, cooking floor and areas of grinding grains and spices.
- Mayadevi temple
- Giant carved wheels
- Nata Mandir (the dancing hall), carrying carved images of dancers and musicians
- Nine Planets Temple
- Carved figures of elephants, horses, and lions at the entrance
- Images of musicians, dancers, sculptures and mythical creatures.
Rise and shine in Orissa’s Konark Temple
The sunrise at Konark temple is like a jewel in the crown of Orissa. The temple has been built slanting to the east so that the first rays of sun fall at the main entrance. First light at the feet of the deity, a sublime dedication to the sustainer of all creation! It is a magnificent sight to watch the sunrise from Konark.
In olden days, sun rays would fall on Nata Mandapa and reflect through the diamond placed at the center of the idol. Though the idol is not kept in the sanctum any more, sunrise at Konark temple Orissa is still something that attracts tourists from far and wide.
Best Time to Visit Konark Sun Temple
Being the most admired one in the list of famous sun temples in India, Konark is visited almost year-round. But summers can be very hot and humid. The best time would be from September to March when the weather will be pleasant and sun tolerable.
How to reach Konark?
One of the best places to visit in India, Konark does not disappoint tourists in the matter of connectivity.
By air: Bhubaneshwar, at a distance of 60 km, is the nearest airport for reaching Konark. Bhubaneswar airport connects flights to the rest of India.
By rail and road: Puri, the nearest railway station, is a distance of 35 km from Konark. Road travel is also easy as Konark falls on the highway.
Spellbinding Facts about Konark Sun Temple
- Konark is a combination of two Sanskrit words – Kona means the corner and Arka means the Sun.
- Each giant wheel of the temple is a sundial that can help to predict the approximate time.
- The seven horses depict the seven days of the week.
- Watching the Sun Temple from the inland during sunrise and sunset shows the chariot-shaped temple coming out of the sea carrying the divinity.
- The temple was built close to the Chandrabhaga River but at present, the river no longer flows near the temple.
- Konark Sun temple is the part of Odisha’s golden triangle with the Jagannath Temple in Puri and the Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar, the other two sides.
- The ten rupee note issued by RBI in 2018 shows Sun Temple on its one side.
- Aruna Stambha is dedicated to the charioteer of the Sun-god called Aruna.
A trip to the abode of the sun god is the best way to connect with your inner source of energy. Next time you feel exhausted by the hassles of daily life, say goodbye to the trivial and escape to the exotic.