The Sun temple in Konark in the state of Orissa was
built by King Narasimhadeva in 13th century. This magnificent temple to Surya,
the Sun God, is one of India’s
architectural wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage.
Built on the shores of the Bay of Bengal in
Orissa, its main image is a superb statue of the sun god standing on his
chariot. Twelve superbly carved wheels, each representing a month of the year
and seven stone horses, representing the days of the week, pull the sun god in
his journey across the skies. The temple is covered with exquisite sculptures
of beautiful maidens, erotic couples, dancers, deities and animals. It is a
magnum opus of Orissa’s architectural grandeur. The drive along the seashore
from the temple town of Puri
to Konark is delightful.
The wheels of the chariot at the base of the temple are the main attraction of
the Sun Temple. The shadow created by the spokes
of the wheel act as sundials and gives the exact time of the day. The roof of
the temple which is pyramid shaped is made from sandstone and is about 30m in height.
The temple walls are adorned with floral, geometrical, human, animal, divine
and semi divine figures. Pair of monolithic elephants and horses depicts the
dynamism of medieval sculpture.
This temple is also referred as the Black Pagoda, since it was built in black
granite. The Sun temple looks magnificent even in its ruined state. Only a
personal visit to Konark gives a clear picture of the imposing yet exquisite
locale in the state of Orissa, Konark is renowned for its centuries old Temple, alluring trendy
beach and of course for the much acclaimed dance festival. Konark alias
Arka-Tirtha is in fact a combination of Kona and Arka which means the sun
around the crook. The outstanding monuments of Konark reflect the quintessence
of Oriyan architecture.
The annual Dance Festival of Konark receives accolades from worldwide, where
the enthralling performances of distinguished classical dancers provide a
delightful feast. The Sun Temple, which makes a
magnificient backdrop, adds the charm of this cultural pursuit. This five day
long cultural extravaganza helped this sleepy town to a thriving tourist
destination. Besides this, Konark also holds the Sun Festival, where the
devotees take a holy dip in the sea before the sunrises and offer their prayers
to the sun god.
Craft Mela and Handicraft Exhibition held as a part of this dance festival
allures people with the wide range of artifacts on display. A wide range of
handicrafts on offer makes shopping a blissful experience Commenced under the
auspicious of the Department of Industry from 1991, this fair is a grand
showoff of stylish handicrafts, rural handlooms and potteries, artist’s camps,
where expert artisans and craftsman present their adroitness in rustic
Konark is an excellent combination of traditional architecture and stunning
natural ambiance. A fabulous temple at a sauntering expanse from the beach
bluster the sumptuousness of the conventional Indian architecture and art,
which holds one’s breathe. Prettily situated on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, Konark is a place where the poetry carved
stone temples win ones heart with its majestic charm.
The history of Konark dates back to the rule of King
Narsimhadeva I of the Ganga dynasty which
ruled here during 1236-1264. It was during his reign that most of the temple
structures including the Sun
Temple were built.
Konark also finds its mention in the Puranas where the town was referred as
‘Mundira’ or ‘Mundirasvamin’. During the 12th century, the power of the Muslim
rulers was insuperable. However, after the death of Mohammad Ghori, the then
ruler of the Delhi
sultanate, the Muslim Empire became weak and the Hindu kings took it up as an
opportunity to restrict the advances of the Mulsims.
A ferocious battle was fought between the freshly appointed king Nasiruddin
Muhammad’s governor general Tughan Khan and King Narsimhadeva I in which the
latter won. Thus, to commemorate his victory he built the Sun temple along with
a shrine and a victory memorial.
According to the mythological beliefs, the Sun Temple
at Konark came into being after the cursed son of Lord Krishna underwent twelve
years of penance after being inflicted with leprosy. After the successful
completion of his penance, he was blessed by the Sun God and his health was
restored. Thus, Samba (lord Krishna’s son) built the Sun Temple
in honour of the Sun God.