The Konark Sun Temple is an iconic 13th-century Hindu temple that is dedicated to the Sun God. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its striking artistry. The temple is also known as Surya Devalaya.
It is located about 36 kilometers northeast from Puri on the coast of Bay of Bengal. It is the best-known tourist destination of Odisha. This post offers you Konark Sun Temple History and Facts.
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Konark Sun Temple History
The Konark Sun Temple had been built in the 13th-century CE by the King Narasimha Deva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty between 1238 to 1250 CE.
The Konark Sun Temple is shaped in the form of a giant chariot. It is known for its exquisite stone carvings that cover its entire structure. However, much of the temple has fallen, and what remains of the temple complex is a 100-foot high chariot with immense wheels & horses that are all carved out of stone.
Once, the temple used to be 200 feet high. It had a large shikhara tower over the sanctuary. The structure that has survived is known for its intricate artwork, iconography, and themes.
It also has scenes of erotic Kama and Mithuna. The Konark Sun Temple is an excellent example of Odisha’s style of Architecture, which is Kalinga Architecture.
The destruction of this Konark Sun Temple is unclear and shredded in controversy. There have been several theories that go on to describe the destruction of the Konark Sun Temple.
According to one of the theories, its destruction is attributed to natural damage. However, according to the most popular theory, its destruction was because it was sacked several times by Muslim invaders between the 15th and 17th centuries.
The temple was known as the “Black Pagoda” because of its great tower that appeared black. It served as an important landmark for sailors in the Bay of Bengal. The British-India era archeological teams partially restored it.
It was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. The temple serves as a major pilgrimage site for the Hindus. The Chandrabhaga Mela is organized every year in February.
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The temple is constructed in the form of a huge ornamented chariot that is dedicated to the Sun God, Surya.
According to the Hindu Vedic iconography, Surya or the Sun God rises from the east and travels rapidly through the sky in a chariot that is drawn by seven horses.
He is represented as a resplendent standing person who holds a lotus flower in both of his hands and rides the chariot, which is marshaled by the charioteer named Aruna.
The seven horses have been named as:
The Sun God is flanked by the dawn goddesses, namely Usha and Pratyusha. The goddesses are shown as shooting arrows, which is a symbol of their initiative to challenge the darkness.
The temple architecture is symbolic of the twelve pairs of wheels that correspond to the 12 months of the Hindu calendar.
The Konark Sun Temple represents this iconography on a grand scale. The temple depicts 24 elaborately carved stone wheels that are as wide as 12 feet in diameter. A set of seven horses pulls it. So, the Konark Sun Temple is a chariot-shaped temple that appears to carry the Sun from the depth of the blue sea.
The temple is based on the Kalinga Architecture. It is carved out of a single stone. The monument represents the imposing chariot of the Sun God, Surya.
The original temple included the 230 feet high sanctum, which no longer exists, 128 feet audience hall, as well as dance hall and dining hall, which still survive. It has 24 intricately designed wheels that are drawn by seven horses.
These seven horses go on to represent the week. The wheels signify the 12 months and the day-cycle is represented by the eight spokes in the wheels. This depiction goes on to signify that time is controlled by the Sun that is stated in Hindu mythology.
The temple entrance leads to the shrine of the deity of Lord Surya, which is made out of chlorite stone. The walls of the temple show intricate carvings of various Hindu Gods as well as images of everyday life, birds, animals, and more.
There are also erotic sculptures on its shikhara that belong to the tantric tradition. The wheels of the temple were used as sundials for predicting time accurately.
Beautiful carvings can be seen on the walls of the main temple. There is also a separate structure in front of the temple known as Natya Mandap. Multifarious images of animals (such as snakes, giraffes, and elephants) can be seen posing on the walls of the temple.
Konark Sun Temple Facts
Here, we share with you some interesting facts about Konark Sun Temple:
- The name “Konark” has been derived from the words “Kona” meaning corner and “Arka” meaning Sun.
- It is located on the northeastern corner of Puri
- It’s the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the State of Odisha
- King Narasimhadeva I of Ganga Dynasty built this beautiful and magnificent temple from 1243 to 1255 AD with the help of 1200 artisans
- It has been designed on gorgeous & decorated chariot that is mounted on 24 wheels
- Seven mighty horses draw the chariot
- The temple was originally built on the sea bank. However, now the sea has receded, and the temple is at a little distance from the beach
- The temple is known as “Black Pagoda” because of its dark color
- It had been used as a navigational landmark by ancient sailors who traveled to Odisha
- The temple is dedicated to Lord Surya
- The temple has exquisite stone carvings
- One of the major attractions of the temple is the twelve pairs of wheels that tell time.
- Moreover, the spokes of the wheels go on to create a Sundial
- A heavy magnet has been placed at the temple top
- Iron plates have sandwiched every two stones of this temple
- These magnets cause the main idol of the temple to float in the air
- There are two huge lions on either side of the entrance
- The lions are shown as crushing the elephants and beneath each elephant lies the human body
- Lions represent pride and elephants money
- They are represented to show the problems of human beings
- The Sun’s rays reach the Nata Mandir and are reflected from the diamond that is placed at the center of the idol
- The temple is vividly sculptured with images of deities, dancers and scenes of life, etc.
- The chief architect of this temple was Bisu Mahapatra
- There are the remains of the temple Mayadevi (one of the wives of Lord Surya) near the main temple
- The temple has been made in the Kalinga Style of Architecture
- It has been constructed using Khondalite rocks
- Its main Vimana fell in 1837
- The Konark temple is known for its erotic sculptures
- The Jagamohan Audience Hall (128 feet tall) still stands in the surviving ruins
- The structure represents the passage of time. Each wheel has eight spokes which represent a “Prahar” (3 hour period) making a day of 24 hours
Konark Sun Temple Timings
The Konark Sun Temple is open on all days of the week from 06:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Its address is Konark, Odisha – 752111
The temple is located at Konark, which is a small town in the district of Puri in Odisha. It is about 36 kilometers from Puri and about 60 kilometers from Bhuvaneshwar. It is a famous tourist destination which is well connected to Puri as well as Bhuvaneshwar by buses, trains, and taxis.
So, that’s all we have got for you in this post on Konark Sun Temple. It is an architectural marvel. You should plan a trip to Konark to witness its magnificent beauty.
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