The Sun Temple in Konarak, Orissa is a 13th century Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu Sun God. The spectacular structure got listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1984. Constructed in a shape of a giant chariot, the temple is known for the exquisite stone carvings. The structure is the recreation of the indispensable role of Sun in everyone’s lives. The rare construction and artwork belongs to the Kalinga School of Temple Architecture. Ravaged by time, the temple complex now lies in ruins but its magnificence still shines through.
History of Konark Sun Temple
The Sun Temple at Konarak was built in about 1250 AD by King Narasimhadeva of Eastern Ganga. According to local legend, the temple had great power. Two very powerful magnets existed here built into the tower that allowed the king's throne to hover in mid-air. European seafarers sailing off the coast named it the Black Pagoda. The magnets of the temple affected the tidal pattern and have said to have caused frequent shipwrecks along the coast.
Konark was attacked by the Muslim Yavana army in the 15th century. The Sun temple central statue was smuggled away to Puri by priests, but the exteriors was badly damaged. Nature continued with the destruction. Over the centuries, the sea receded, leaving sand and salty breezes to engulf and eroded the architectural brilliance. Until the early 20th century, the temple has immersed in the sands.
What to See at Sun Temple, Konark
The Konark Sun Temple is structured in the form of a huge chariot for the Hindu Sun God. The chariot is constructed with 12 pairs of stone-carved wheels and a team of seven galloping horses (only one of which survives). The temple symbolizes the passage of time. The seven horses, which pull the sun temple eastwards towards the dawn, represent the days of the week. The 12 pairs of wheels represent the 12 months of the year and the eight spokes in each wheel symbolize the eight stages of a day.
Check out the carved sculptures of musicians and dancers as well as erotic scenes similar to the carvings of Khajuraho. The Shiva Nataraja sculpture performing the cosmic dance is another brilliance.
View the awe-inspiring shrine containing a statue of Surya, the Sun God and also the charioteer, Arun. The beautiful image is carved of high-quality green chlorite stone and is one of the masterpieces of Konarak.
The temple's exteriors are adorned with sculptures of mythical deities, divinely beautiful women (apsaras), animals, floral patterns, beasts and aquatic monsters. The 24 giant wheels are exquisitely carved and each of the eight spokes bears a medallion containing figurative carvings.
How to Reach
To reach Sun Temple, Konark one has to reach Puri. The coastal city of Orissa is the nearest to the magnificent UNESCO heritage site.
By Air: The Bhubaneswar airport is the nearest air connection. The domestic airport is 64 km away, and connects to Kolkata, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai with frequent connections.
By Rail: The nearest railhead is Puri. The city railway station is 31 kilometers away.
By Road: Konark is well-connected by Odisha State Public Transport buses plying on National and State highways linking it to Puri, Bhubaneswar and other cities.