Konark Sun Temple

About

The 13th century Sun Temple, Konark, also called the Black Pagoda, is situated in the state of Odisha, India. This gigantic temple, in the midst of a large enclosure, was built around 1250 AD supposedly by a king of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty, Narasimhadeva I.

The magnificent structure resembles the shape of a chariot, with intricately carved wheels, walls and pillars made out of stone. The Sun Temple was recognized by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1984. NDTV and The Times of India also list the temple as one of the Seven Wonders of India. The temple, dedicated to Sun god, derives its name from two Sanskrit words 'kona' and 'arka', meaning corner and Sun respectively. The temple features how Sun moves around on the chariot.

The twelve wheels of the temple are the main attractions, the spokes of which create a sundial. The shadows cast by the spokes help calculate the time of the day. The main entry of the temple catches the first ray of the rising Sun. The figure of a lion crushing an elephant is seen on either side of the entrance. A human body lies under each elephant. The two sculptures depict how two flaws can destroy a human being, where lion portrays pride and elephant symbolizes money. The Sun Temple is one of the most famous tourist attractions not only in Konark but also in the state of Odisha.

History

As per Samba Purana and Bhavishya Purana, the region might have had a Sun Temple other than the present one, dating back to the 9th century. Three Sun temples are mentioned in the books, Kalapriya at Mathura, Multan, and Mundira (possibly the one at Konark). The scriptures say that both the Multan temple and the original Sun temple were accredited to Samba, the son of Krishna. Samba, cursed by leprosy, was advised to worship the Sun god by the sage Kataka to cure his disease. He underwent penance in a place called Mitravana near the Chandrabhaga beach for twelve years.

The present temple is attributed to the Eastern Ganga Dynasty King Narasimhadeva I who ruled from 1238 CE to 1264 CE. Supposedly the temple was built to commemorate his victory against Tughral Tughan Khan. The unfortunate collapse of the main sanctum is associated with different theories, though the date of the incident is not certain. The temple was mentioned to be in proper state by the Kenduli copper plates of Narasimha IV during 1305 CE to 1384 CE, and also by Abu-l-Fazl in Ain-i-Akbari during the 16th century.

Worship ceased in the temple during the last quarter of the 18th century. At this time the Aruna Stambha or the Aruna Pillar was detached from the temple entrance by Goswain, a Maratha Brahmachari, and installed at the Jagannath Temple's Singha Dwar (Lion's Gate). The Aruna Stambha, made out of monolithic chlorites about 10.26 metres in height, is dedicated to the charioteer of the Sun god.

Location

Konark, a village in the state of Orissa, is situated at a distance of 66 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar and around 35 km from the popular sea beach of Puri. The famous Sun Temple located in Konark is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in Orissa. The place can be easily reached from other tourist locations like Bhubaneswar, Puri, Chilka, Gopalpur and Chandrabhaga, among others.

When to Visit

Konark also enjoys its share of changing seasons. While summers are not too hot, with temperature ranging between 25 degrees centigrade to a maximum of 42 degrees centigrade, winters are also not too chilly, when maximum temperature remains under 25 degrees centigrade and minimum does not fall below 8 degrees centigrade. The place enjoys the tempering effect of the Bay of Bengal adjoining the state. In Odisha, especially in Puri, Gopalpur and some other tourist attractions, tourists come round the year. During winters the weather conditions become extremely pleasant, and so the best time to visit this place is from October to March.

Opening Timings

The Sun Temple, Konark, remains open from sunrise to sunset

Entrance Fees

  • Entry fee is Rs. 10 per head for Indian citizens and visitors of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries.
  • Entry fees for others is US$ 5 or INR 250 per head
  • Entry is free for children up to 15 years
Where to Stay

Many tourists make a day-tour to Konark while on a trip to other destinations like Puri, Bhubaneswar, Chilka and Gopalpur, among others. But if the plan is to stay for a day of two, one can avail excellent accommodation at the Orissa Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC)-run Panthanivas, and the Department of Tourism, Govt. of Odisha-run Yatri Nivas. Apart from these, governments-run accommodation 'Konark' also offers a number of good budget as well as posh hotels and resorts.

How to Reach

The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar at a distance of about 64 km. Bhubaneswar has direct flights from places like Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata and Nagpur. The two nearest railway stations are Puri, about 33 km away, and Bhubaneswar. State buses, tourist buses, taxis, private coaches and hired cars are easily available to reach Konark. Kalpana Chhak and Vani Vihar are the two bus stands in Bhubaneswar from where regular buses ply to Konark. The popular Golden Triangle of The East, a virtual triangle formed by the National and State Highways, links Puri and Bhubaneswar with Konark.

Last Updated on : December 30, 2013