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The Sun Temple of Konark

Highlights

  • Rabindranath Tagore wrote of Konark: "here the language of stone surpasses the language of man."
  • The Sun Temple of Konark, often called as the Black Pagoda

The Sun Temple of Konark, often called as the Black Pagoda, was constructed in the mid thirteenth century by Raja Narasinghs Deva-I of the Ganga Dynasty. It is an ample testament to the artistic glory of the time. Conceived in the form of a huge chariot drawn by seven spirited horses on 12 pairs of exquisitely decorated wheels--after the mythical seven horse chariot of Sun God--the temple was unique in its architecture and implementation.

An Architecture Marvel of Eastern India and A symbol of India's heritage, Konark Sun Temple, commonly known as Konark is situated in the eastern state of Odisha (earlier known as Orissa), India and is one of the eminent tourist attractions. Konark houses a massive temple dedicated to the Sun God. The word 'Konark' is a combination of two words 'Kona' and 'Arka'. 'Kona' means 'Corner' and 'Arka' means 'Sun', so when combines it becomes 'Sun of the Corner'. Konark Sun Temple is situated on the north eastern corner of Puri and is dedicated to Sun God. Konark is also known as Arka khetra. There are three images of the Sun God at three different sides of the temple, positioned in proper direction to catch the rays of the sun at morning, noon and evening.

Sun Temple of Konark, built in the middle of 13th century, is a massive conception of artistic magnificence and engineering dexterity. King Narasimhadeva I, the great ruler of the Ganga dynasty had built this temple, with the help of 1200 artisans within a period of 12 years (1243-1255 A.D.). Since the ruler used to worship the Sun, the temple was considered as a chariot for the Sun God. Konark Temple was designed in the form of a gorgeously decorated chariot mounted on 24 wheels , each about 10 feet in diameter, and drawn by 7 mighty horses. It is really difficult to understand, how this huge temple, every inch-space of which was so wonderfully carved, could have been completed within such a short time. Whatever that might be, the konark temple even in its present ruined state, still a wonder to the whole world.    Great poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote of Konark: "here the language of stone surpasses the language of man."

Intricate carvings on the walls of the main temple and the Natya Mandap (a separate structure just in front of the temple) are a sight to behold. It is often considered the best among other temples of its kind and that is saying something when you are talking about the golden triangle of Odisha (Orissa) which boasts of Sri Jagannath temple and Lingraj Temple of Puri and Bhubaneswar.
The Sun Temple has lost its many of its original structures to time and disrepair, but the remaining structures and the remainder of the structures confirm till today the infinite imaginative power of the artistes of the time and their inspiring contribution to Vaisnav Culture.

Main Attractions

The main temple structure and the geometrical patterns all around the temple
The carved wheels and the spokes of the wheel which serve as sun dials
Architectural figures including the war horses, the elephants and the guarding lions at the entrance
The Nata Mandir (Dancing Hall)
Three images of Sun God at three direction of the temple to catch the rays of the Sun at dawn, noon and sunset
The various images of dieties, dancers, musicians, elephants and mythical creatures
The second level of the temple structure which showcases the famous erotic sculptures
The Sun temple museum run by Archaelogical Survey of India
The Nava Graha (Nine Planets) Temple

 

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