Konark Sun Temple,Orissa
Situated near the sacred city of Puri (Orissa), the Konark Sun Temple is an amalgamation of artistic craftsmanship and human endeavour, and marks the highest point of achievement in Kalingan architecture so much so, that UNESCO has declared it a World Heritage Site.
Though accounts of the temple’s origins remain ambigous, historical sources maintain that the temple was built by King Narasimhadevan in the thirteenth century. It was constructed in the form of a massive chariot with seven horses and twelve wheels on each side, carrying the Sun god ‘Surya’ across the heavens. The Sun god has been worshipped in India as early as the Vedic period. Two lions safeguard the entrance while a flight of steps lead to the to the main temple area. Some believe the wheels to signify 24 hours of the day, while others relate it to the 12 months of a year. The horses are deemed to symbolize the seven days of the week. Sailors once knew the temple as the Black Pagoda and feared its power to cause ship wreaks.
Samba, the son of Lord Krishna took great pride in his beauty. So much that he once committed a mistake of ridiculing a sage called Narada. The sage, bursting with rage, hit upon an idea to teach Samba a lesson. Somehow, the sage lured the boy to a pool where his step mothers, the consorts of Lord Krishna, were having bath. As Krishna got to learn of this immoral activity, he was inflamed and cursed his son with leprosy. However, before long, lord Krishna came to know that it was all a premeditated plan of the mischievous Narada. He suggested to his son that he go and worship the Sun god, the healer of all diseases. Samba followed the advise and spent 12 long years of penance and worship. Eventually, Surya instructed Samba to go and take a dip into the sea at Konark. So did the afflicted boy and surprisingly enough his leprosy was cured. Elated Samba made up his mind to built a temple in honour of Surya at the very spot. And that was how the temple came into being.
Architecture of the Temple
The colossal structure with its though in ruins now, stands ovation to Orissa’s medieval architecture. Its architectural brilliance is displayed in the interesting juxtaposition of intricate and minute sculptural patterns to the free-standing statues of an exceptional size. The wheels of this chariot attract special attention being almost 10m in diameter and covered with intricate displays of creative talent. The spokes of the wheels are used as sundials, with their shadows predicting the exact time of the day. On the walls of this temple one can witness beautiful carvings, sculptures and bas-reliefs (figures projecting from a plain background) depicting images of god, goddesses, men, women and scenes from 13th century social life. The architecture of the temple is typified by its curved towers mounted by cupolas with a pyramidal roof of sandstone ascending to a height of around 30 metres.
The temple stands aligned in the east-west direction exemplifying solitary majesty and splendour in the midst of natural surrounding comprising of casuarinas plantations and other trees native to the sandy soil of this region. The gentle undulating topography of the Bay of Bengal coastline lends distinction to the surrounding landscape.
The Natya Mandir (Dance Hall) within the Sun Temple Complex hosts the Konark Festival of Dances, in celebration of India’s diverse dance forms like Odissi, Bharatnatyam, Manipuri, Kathak and Chau. The festival is usually held in the first week of February and is attended by leading classical dancers, connoisseurs, tourists and locals.
Best Time to Visit
Being close the sea, the climate of Konark is never very harsh. With greenery surrounding the place, rainfall is heavy in Konark. The best season to visit Konark is between October and March; however, one can go there throughout the year.
The city of Konark lies in the eastern state of Orissa, India approximately 65 km from the capital Bhubaneshwar and 35 km from Puri.
Getting there and Around
By Air –
The nearest airport is the Biji Patnaik Airport at Bhubaneshwar, which is well connected to most major cities of the country like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
By Rail –
Nearest railheads are found at Bhubaneshwar and Puri with long-distance trains connecting them to all key cities of the Country.
By Road –
Konark is well linked through private buses as well as those run by the Orissa State Road Transport Corporation to all parts of the State.
Konark offers various government approved accommodations at Panthanivas, Travellers lodge, Inspection Bungalow, yatri Nivas.There are thousands of low budget and luxury Hotels too.
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