Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century Sun Temple at Konark in Odisha, India. The name Konark derives from the combination of the Sanskrit words, Kona (corner) and Arka (sun), in reference to the temple which was dedicated to the Sun god Surya. It is believed that the temple was built by king Narasimhadeva I of Eastern Ganga Dynasty around 1250 CE. The temple is in the shape of a gigantic chariot elaborately carved stone wheels, pillars and walls.
The main attraction of the temple is its twelve pairs of wheels located at the base of the temple. These wheels are not ordinary wheels but tell time as well – the spokes of the wheels create a sundial. One can calculate the precise time of the day by just looking at the shadow cast by these spokes. The wheels are also elegantly adorned.
Another unique feature of this temple is the presence of an iron plate in between every two stones. Massive iron beams have also been used to construct the higher floors of the temple. A 52-ton magnet was used to create the peak of the main temple. It is said that the entire structure has tolerated the harsh conditions especially of the sea because of this magnet. Previously, the unique arrangement of the main magnet along with the other magnets caused the main idol of the temple to float in air.
Architectural Glory Of The Sun Temple:
The Sun Temple built in the thirteenth century was conveyed as a gigantic chariot of Sun God, with twelve pairs of exquisitely ornamented wheels pulled by seven pairs of horses. Majestic in conception, this Temple is indeed one of the most sublime monuments of India, famous as much for its imposing dimensions and faultless proportions as for the harmonious integration of architectural grandeur with plastic allegiance. It is admittedly the best in Orissa. It’s fine traceries and scroll work, the beautiful and natural cut of animal and human figures, all give it superiority over other temples. The chief quality is its design and architectural details. The Sun temple belongs to the Kalinga School of Indian Temples with characteristic curvilinear towers mounted by Cupolas. In shape, the Temple did not make any major departure from other sikhara temples of Orissa. The main sanctum which (229 ft. high) was constructed along with the auditorium (128 ft. high) having elaborate external projections. The main sanctum which enshrined the presiding deity has fallen off. The auditorium survives in its entirely but of the other two viz., the Dancing Hall(natya Mandir) and the Dining Hall (Bhoga-Mandap), only small portions have survived the vagaries of time. The Temple compound measures 857 ft. by 540 ft.
The alignment of the Sun Temple is on the east-west direction. The Temple is located in natural surroundings, abounding with casuarina plantations and other types of trees, which grow on sandy soil. The environment is by and large unspoiled. Gentle undulating topography around the Sun Temple lends some variation to the landscape.
Konark Dance Festival:
Another colourful festival is the Konark Dance Festival. This is a festival of classical dance. It is held from 1st to 5th December every year in the amphitheater. It is a most exciting dance event of the country. The festival has assumed a kind of distinctive significance and importance for the timely efforts it has made towards the revival, preservation and continuation of unique temple dance tradition of Orissa. The festive nights serve the essential purpose of highlighting an important fact of Indian’s composite culture which offers the audience a lavish feast for the eyes and ears. As a tribute to the majestic monument, eminent classical dancers of India get together every year during this dance festival to present live performance. The dance is performed on the Open Air Auditorium set amidst the casuarinas grave with the Sun Temple, a World Heritage Monument, at the back drop.
When the sun sets in the horizon and the stars appear in the sky, the open-air-auditorium reverberates with the beats of Raga and Tala to fill the air. The classical extravaganza, a journey through eternal ecstasy. The stage for the New Millennium Fete is all set to glow in pristine glory of much admired Odissi, Bharat Natyam, Manipuri, Kathak and Chhow Dance- a lavish feast for the eyes and ears.
Magha Saptami which is also called Chandrabhaga Mela is the most popular festival which falls in the month of February. This is a day specially set aside for the worship of the Sun God at Konark.Although the temple is a ruin, even today thousands of pilgrims flock to Konark every year on the Magha Sukla Saptami, the day of Spring Festivals, to celebrate the new birth of the Sun God. When the Sun has returned on its northern course, they assemble before sunrise to take bathe in the sacred Chandrabhaga River and in the nearby sea. When on that day the Sun God emerges from the ocean in the Agni Kona, the south eastern corner of the horizon, they adore and worship him with silent prayers or yells of joy, and many in their ecstasy imagine they actually see him rising from the water in his luminous chariot drawn by seven fiery horses. After that they walk one and a half miles to the temple to circumambulate the shrine and to worship the Navagraha stone which originally was above the eastern portal and is now set up in a small shed outside the compound. When their religious duties are performed, they pass the rest of the day in cooking, eating and merrymaking and by nightfall that have all dispersed to their homeward journey. Some of these people come on foot from distant place and eventually spend a whole month on the road before reaching their destination. This shows how great is their faith and their love for the Sun God, and how strong are latent memories of ancient traditions.
This is the most popular and colourful festival of the place when lakhs of pilgrims visit Konark to observe the festival. In fact this is the second biggest festival in Orissa, next to Car Festival of Puri.
This temple is located on the banks of the Kusabhadra River, about 5 km from Konark. While some say that the presiding deity is Goddess Ramachandi, others thought it to be the temple of Mayadevi, wife of Surya (Sun god). The graceful goddess is seated on a lotus and among the Sakti Pithas of Puri.
A broken brick temple, said to be the temple of Lord Vishnu, is located behind the Ramachandi temple. The pillar in front of this temple is said to be the seat of Garuda, the cosmic charioteer of Lord Vishnu. Figures of Goddess Lakshmi and Saraswati are found on the temple walls.
This Math (monastery) is situated to the south of the Sun temple. Nirakar Brahma (or void) is worshiped here. It is called as "Samba Ashram" by the local people. Dhuni Kund (fire place) is where the fire has been reserved continuously since the beginning of the Matha.
Tourist Attractions in/around Konark:
- Konark Beach
- Archaeological Museum
City : Konark
Dist. : Puri
State : Odisha
Country : India
PIN : 752111
How To Reach:
The nearest airport is at Bhubaneswar, which is about 64 km from Konark. Bhubaneshwar is connected by regular flights to Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi and Hyderabad.
Puri, which is about 31 km away, is the nearest railway station to Konark
Konark is connected to other cities by Orissa State Public Transport buses.
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