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Sun Temple Konark: A Travel Guide

Built in 13th Century, The Konark Sun Temple, popularly called as a Black Pagoda, is known for its magnificent architecture. The temple is built in the shape of an enormous chariot with elaborately carved stone pillars, wheels and walls.

Because of its astounding architectural significance, The Sun Temple in Konark in Odisha is included in UNESCO World Heritage Site. NDTV and The Times of India, both, also included the Temple in their popular list of Seven Wonders of India.

Sun Temple at Konark in Odisha
Sun Temple at Konark in Odisha - UNESCO World Heritage Site
Location: Konark, Odisha- 752111

Built by:
King Narasimhadeva I

Built in:
13th century

Highlights:
Architecture, interior and exterior drawings and paintings, Eastern gateway, Decorations, Nata Mandir, Religious processions

How to Reach:
The Sun Temple in Konark is located 63 km from Bhubaneswar Airport. From the airport, you can avail any means of transport to make your way to the Temple. It is situated at a distance of 31 km from Puri Railway Station. From the railway station, the tourists can avail taxis or cabs to reach the sun Temple. The roads are well connected to the Temple.

Best time to visit:
Due to the unbearable heat during the summers in Konark, the best time to visit Sun Temple in Konark is during comparatively cooler months of October to March.

Entry Fee:
Rupees 10 per person for Indians and 250 Rupees per person for foreign tourists (children up to 15 years free).

Timings:
All days of the week 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Introduction
The Sun Temple in Konark depicts Sun god traveling in his Majestic chariot and aims to bring together people from all section of the society just like the Sun God treating each and everyone as equals. The Audience Hall, Dining hall and Dancing Hall are simple glorious sight to watch. While a tourist enters the temple, he/she realizes that the face of the temple is in the East-West direction.

There are numerous trees surrounding the tree including mahogany, rosewood, eel etc. The temple had been ruined by various attacks done during earlier times. The uprooted stones and distorted images are still present inside the walls of the temple today.

Sun Temple, Konark
Sculpted Wheel at the Sun Temple, Konark
The numerous images prescribed on the Temple’s walls present various animals in a pose including giraffe, snakes, elephants etc. Multifarious mythological paintings have also been drawn on the walls of Sun Temple including those of Goddess Shakti , God Vishnu, Lord Shiva etc.

Lots of walls are also covered with erotic paintings putting on display women in extremely seductive poses and each of the paintings tells a story to the tourists.  The tourists can also view the remnants of Mahagayitri temple and Vaishnava Temple.

History
Built in 13th Century by King Narsimhadeva I of the Ganga dynasty, Konark temple is a stunning architectural feat. When the Muslim rule weakened in 13th Century after Mohammad Ghori’s death, Hindu kings fought numerous battles under King Narsimhadeva I. After his victory, to celebrate and remember this feat, the Sun Temple was built.

Konark Sun Temple in Konark, India
Entrance to the Konark Sun Temple in Konark, India
Some myths and legends are also linked with the construction of Sun Temple in Konark. It is believed that Samba, Lord Krishna’s son suffered from leprosy and to get it cured he did penance for continuous 12 years and worshipped the Sun God.

Impressed with his dedication, The Sun God or Surya blessed Samba with the Sun Temple to express his gratitude to him, after he completed his period of penance. He was also healed of his ailment by Surya.
There are also some legends regarding the temple that states that the Sun Temple, under her garb, possesses a magnificent aura of power in and around it.

The aura is supposed to be magnetic in nature, and the aura of power is considered to be due to the presence of two very strong magnets which were used for the tower’s construction. Some legends suggest that the king’s throne hovered in mid-air due to these magnets during king’s court sessions.

Konark Sun Temple,India
Carved Sculptures at the Konark Sun Temple
Other legends state that the magnetic effects pulled the vessels that passed through Konark Sea and caused huge damages. Also, the magnetic compass used to get disturbed by the powerful magnetic effects. The Portuguese sailors, to protect their vessels, carved out the iron columns and lodestones of the temple’s walls.

Because of this, the temple walls were destroyed as they lost their balance and fell down. Though, so far, there are no evidences to support these legends, they are very popular among the masses that visit the temple.
A major portion of the Konark temple was destroyed due to the continuous violent attacks by Kalaphad’s on Odisha. The general worked under the Sultan of Bengal named Sulaiman Khan Karrani.

Some Interesting Facts about Sun Temple
  • The Sun Temple is currently under ruins.
  • Surya, a popular deity in India since the Vedic Civilization, is the one to whom the temple is dedicated.
  • The Temple is of the dimensions 261 m by 160 m (857 ft by 540 ft).
  • The Sun temple is aligned in East-West direction.
  • Twelve pairs of exceptionally designed and beautifully decorated stone wheels are fixed in the temple. 
  • The idea to design the horses was to portray Surya or the Sun God himself driving a chariot. The head of Surya is supposed to be inside the garbhagriha.
  • On East side, facing the sea is the prime entrance of the temple, which is located in front of Hall of Offerings.
  • Traditional dance recitals are performed in the halls due to the presence of dancers and musicians sculptures on the walls.
  • The Sanctuary Tower, on Western side once had a roof in the shape of pyramid and was named as Jaganmohan.
  • There is a sculpture of Nataraja performing an exotic dance on the platform at the base.
  • A magnificent statute of Surya in green colored chlorite stone is carved out in the temple. 
  • There are numerous extremely erotic paintings and sculptures carved on the walls of the vast temple.
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