A marvel built by the Hindu King Narasimhadeva I of the Ganga Dynasty in the 13th century, is dedicated to the God of power and strength - Lord Surya or Sun. This masterpiece is located in the city of Puri, Orissa and considered to be a perfect example of scientific and architectural amalgamation in India. Konark temple history is very ancient and interesting. The name of this temple is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘Konark’ which comes from kona (meaning angle) and arka (meaning sun). It’s alternatively also called as the Black Pagoda as it is made from black granite stone. Smitten with the enchanting beauty of the sunrise along with the music of the river Chandrabhaga flowing within a mile to the north, King Narasimhadeva decided to choose the place to build this wonder. Furthermore, the presence of flourishing towns on the banks of the river facilitated the import of building materials through the sea routes for the construction of the temple. Spread across 26 acres of land, Konark was 225 feet tall originally which is now reduced to a height of 100 feet owing to the damage caused over centuries.
The flawless construction of the temple proves how scientifically advanced India was and how expert was its craftsmanship even several centuries ago.
This temple is famous throughout the world for being an architectural wonder and is also recognised as the world Heritage Site by UNESCO. The entire temple is a perfect example of typical Orissa style of Kalinga Architecture and was designed by the architect Bishu Maharana. Konark is uniquely designed in the shape of an enormous chariot with 24 wheels and seven horses intricately carved in stone representing the chariot of the Sun God. It is believed that the temple denotes the passage of time which is ruled by the Sun God. The temple is so much inclined towards the coast that the first rays of the rising sun come straight on the main entry. Three different pictures of Sun God can be seen in three directions to catch the rays of the Sun at dawn, noon and sunset respectively. The wonder lies in the part that the spokes of the wheels of the chariot form a sundial. The exact time of the day till hours and even minutes can be calculated just by looking at the shadow cast by the sundial.
Konark Sun temple is a breathtaking sight when it is viewed from the interiors, at the time of sunrise and sunset, as the chariot appears to be arising from the depths of the sea carrying the deity of the Sun.
As per the legend, 7 horses represent the 7 days of the week and the 12 pairs of wheels represent the 12 months translating into 24 wheels representing 24 hours of a day. Further it’s a popular belief that the seven horses at Konarak represent the seven colours of a rainbow which, as already known, are reflected when the sunlight strikes the water droplets post rain The horses therefore are named after these seven colors: Sahasrara (Violet), Indra-nila (Indigo), Nila (Blue), Haritaha (Green), Pita (Yellow), Kausumbhaha (Orange) and Rakta (Red).
It is said that a 52-ton magnet was earlier installed at the peak of the main temple due to which the temple could not only withstand the severe weather conditions through the centuries but also made the main idol of the deity float in the air. The force of this main magnet along with other magnets was such that it could even pull the sailing ships towards the shores. The whole temple complex is embellished with stone sculptures of animals like elephants, horses, and lions as well as erotic carvings of nude figurines.
The Konark Sun temple symbolises mortality of living beings through its sculptures. Both lion sculptures set on each side of the temple are seen crushing elephants and each elephant in turn is shown crushing a human being. Lion stands for pride and elephant stands for wealth therefore conveying how temporary and destructive pride and wealth in life.
One of the major tourist attractions at the Sun temple is the spectacular lights and sound show held in the evening Popular for being one of the best musical shows in the country it highlights the cultural magnificence of the temple.
In order to celebrate the Sun temple, an elaborate dance festival is held every year from 1st to 5th December in the open air auditorium against the background of the exalted Konark. A sand art exhibition and a crafts fair are also a part of this showcasing a variety of handicrafts and handmade sand statues by sand artists and sumptuous food cuisines that attract tourists from all over the country.
Flight ticket booking from all parts of the country are connected to Bhubaneshwar Airport. Konark temple is 64 kms away from the airport and can be easily reached through local taxis. The Konark is only15 kms away from the Puri Railway Station.
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