Our third day in Puri started off by spending some crazy moments at the beach. We went to the beach at around 6 AM, played in water, got photographed and had our breakfast. By 10 AM, we rushed back to the hotel and got freshened up quickly as we had to check out of the hotel by 12. Also, I quickly packed up my stuff which was lying all over the hotel room because we had to catch a train to Bangalore that night. Anyways, we decided to spend our entire third Day in Konark and visit the Konark Temple which is UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Konark Temple is located in Konark town of the Puri District in Odisha. With an approximate driving distance of 37 kms from Swargadwar, generally it takes somewhere around one hour from Swargadwar to reach Konark. But we stopped at many places on the way, and reached Konark around 2 in the afternoon. The first look of the temple left me speechless. It was a beautiful sight to behold and I was literally awe-struck by its enormity and sheer magnificence.
History of the Temple
The Sun Temple of Konark was built by King Narasimhadeva-I of Eastern Ganga Dynasty in the 13th-century. The temple name ‘Konark’ is a combination of Sanskrit words, Kona (which means corner) and Arka (which means the Sun), in reference to the temple which was dedicated to the Sun God. This gigantic temple was built with the help of 1200 artisans over a period of 12 years. Since the entire Sun temple is built in black granite, it was also called the Black Pagoda by the European sailors. This temple is the epitome of highest point of achievement of Kalinga style of architecture. One very surprising and amazing fact about this temple is that it was originally built at the mouth of the river Chandrabhaga, but the waterline has got receded since then and now Chandrabhaga sea is about three kms away from the temple.
Architecture of The Sun Temple
The temple has been built in the form of a giant chariot which symbolizes the carrier of the Sun God. The Chariot has 12 pairs of elaborately carved stone wheels which was pulled by seven horses (out of which 4 were on the right and 3 were on the left). With maximum carvings and artistic work, this chariot is the highlight of the temple. The Konark temple is widely known not only for its architectural grandeur but also for the intricacy and profusion of sculptural work.
The main entrance of the temple is oriented towards the east (which is sea facing side) so that the first rays of sunrise strikes the principal entrance first. The Entrance of the temple is guarded by two big sculptures of lions which shows lions prowling over the elephants and the elephant prowling over the human.
All the walls of the temple has beautiful carvings. The base or the lower part of the temple depicts images of animals, plants, warriors, elephants, while the walls and roof tops have erotic figures carved.This place was so beautiful that we spent close to 5 hours there.
Three Main Structures in Temple
There are three Main Structures inside the Temple which are The Main Sanctum, The Jaganmohana or the pyramid-shaped audience hall, The Natya Mantapa and the dining hall (Bhoga mandapa)
The Main Sanctum and The Jaganmohana:
The original temple had a Main Sanctum Sanctorum or Vimana, which was approximately 229 feet (70 m) tall but the main Vimana fell in 1837 due to the weight of the structure and weak soil of that area.
Jaganmohana, also known as The Audience Hall or front porch is 128 feet (30 m) tall principal structure which survived the ruins and is still there. Pyramidal in shape, Jaganmohana is the front part of the Sanctum Sanctorum covered by the main temple tower or the Vimana. Since the Vimana of the temple fell several centuries ago, the Jaganmohana is now considered the Konark Sun temple.
In front of the Jaganmohana is ‘The Natya Mantapa’ and every part of wall of the Natya Mantapa have carvings in erotic style. The Natya Mandir was constructed in such a way that the first rays of the sun pass through the pillars of Natya Mandir and fall on the idol in the Main Sanctum.
The pillars of the Natya Mantapa is carved with sculptures of artists, musicians and women dancing, dressing up, singing and playing various musical instruments.
SunDial or Time Wheel:
We all know that Time is under the control of Sun God and this temple symbolizes the passage of time. The Sun temple is a giant Sun God’s chariot pulled by 7 horses towards the east and those 7 horses represent 7 days of the week while the wheels of the temple are sundials used to calculate time accurately. There are 12 pairs of wheels/Sundials at the base of Sun Temple which tells accurate time of the day. The twelve pairs of the wheel represents the twelve months of the year. There are 24 wheels around the chariot like temple which signifies 24 hours of the day. The sundial has 8 major spokes that divide 24 hours into 8 equal parts. The time between two major spokes is 3 hours.There are 30 beads between a minor and a major spoke. The spokes of the wheel creates a sun dial and it has been designed in a way you can calculate the precise time by looking at the shadow cast by these spokes. Isn’t it just so much interesting?
The Presiding Diety Sun God:
There are 3 figures of Lord Surya carved on the walls of the main temple/sanctum on the northern, western and southern side of the temple except the Eastern side. These three statues of Sun God are a description of the Sun during dawn, noon and sunset. You can see statue of Sun God in the pic below.
There is an abundance of world class sculptures on the walls of temple (see the pic below). Every inch of the walls is carved with figures of women, men, children, lovers, dancers, musicians and variety of animals as well as military processions, hunting scenes.
Power of Magnets
The temple once had huge magnets placed in such a way that the idol of the Sun God would float in the air because of the magnetic effect. The idol is now placed in the Jagannath Temple in Puri.
- Location of Temple: Konark, Puri District of Odisha, India.
- Timings: The Konark Sun temple is open from 8 AM to 6 PM daily. There is an entrance fee of Rs.10/- for Indians and Rs.250/- for foreign citizens.
- Famous for: Heritage/Architecture
- Camera: Photography is permitted and there are no charges for that.
How to Reach: Distance of Konark Temple from Puri is 35 kms and from Bhubaneswar is 65 kms. You can reach Konark by Air, train or by road.
- By Air:The nearest airport is at Bhubaneswar which is 65 km away from Konark and operates direct flights from major metro cities.
- By Train: The nearest railway stations to Konark are located in Puri and Bhubaneswar and are linked with almost all the major cities.
- By Road: Konark is well connected to Puri and Bhubaneswar by roads.