Every ancient temple or building tells the saga of India’s rich heritage, scientific and architectural marvel and extreme devotion. The Konark Sun Temple located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal in the small town of Konark of district Puri, Odisha is an outstanding proof of all this.
Based on Brahmin beliefs, this temple was built in the 13th century by King Narasimhadeva I (1238-1250 CE) of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty and dedicated to Sun God Surya. As per legend, the son of Lord Krishna, Samba, got the Konark Sun Temple constructed to honor Surya the Sun God, as the God had cured his leprosy. The Konark Sun Temple has also been added to the UNSECO World Heritage List.
Like most of the ancient words, origin of Konark is also Sanskrit and it has been derived from kona (meaning angle) and arka (meaning sun). In terms of scientific and architectural development, ancient India was much ahead of today’s time. First of all, it is the flawless proportions and impressive dimension of the Konark temple and then is the complete structure of the temple that proves this. The entire temple is in the form of the chariot of Surya that is drawn by seven horses.
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. Isn’t it great? 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.
The temple was so oriented on the shore that the first rays of the rising sun directly fall on the main entry. These sun rays would cross the Nata Mandir and get reflected from the diamond just at the center of the idol. The diamond was positioned in the middle of this idol in the main sanctum. During the colonial period, these magnets were removed by the Britishers to get the magnetic stone.
Moreover, the temple presents a way to teach mortality. The Konark Sun temple has two huge lions on either side of the entrance. Each lion is shown crushing an elephant. Beneath each elephant lies the human body. Lion represents pride and elephant represents money. By looking at them it becomes clear that how both these flaws can crush a human being.
Ancient people loved to adorn their buildings with sculptures and carvings. Every single piece of the Konark Sun Temple is covered with sculpture consisting of deities, dancers, scenes of life at court, etc. To separate these figures are the beautiful carvings of birds and animals along with mythological creatures. Scroll work and neatly carved of human as well animal figures gives the Konark temple a distinctive appeal.
Fall of the Konark Sun Temple
Many theories explain the fall of the temple in their own way.
As per one theory, part of the Konark temple collapsed because of its incomplete structure. The Konark Sum Temple was not completed because of the early death of the king Langula Narasimha Dev who initiated the construction of the temple.
Next is the theory of lodestone (piece of the mineral magnetite that is naturally magnetized) located at the top of the temple. The lodestone’s placement caused a huge damage to the temple as many vessels passing through the Konark Sea were attracted towards it. Also, this magnet used to disturb the compass of almost all the ships in the sea. So, to remove the cause of the trouble, Portuguese voyagers stole the lodestone. The displacement of the lodestone led to total imbalance and so the Konark temple fell down. But there is no historical record either of this event or presence of such a great lodestone at Konark.
As per another very popular theory, the temple was destroyed by Kalapahad (Kalapahad was the title given to a Muslim governor Sultan Sulaiman Karrani of Bengal) who invaded Orissa in 1508. He had also destroyed many other Hindu temples in Orissa along with the Konark Sun Temple. In 1568, Muslims started ruling Orissa and destroyed many Hindu temples.
How to Reach Konark Sun Temple?
Reaching Konark is not difficult as this town is well connected to all the major parts of India by road, rail as well as air. Bhubaneswar airport is the nearest airport that is well linked and has regular flights from all parts of the country. This airport is at a distance of 64 km from Konark.
The railway stations closest to Konark are there in the twin cities of Puri and Bhubaneswar.
An extensive road network connects Konark with the rest of the India via National as well as State Highways.