Sun Temple (Surya Mandir) Konark-
The Sun Temple of Konark was constructed in around 1250 AD by Raja Narasimhadeva of Eastern Ganga Dynasty in state of Odisha. The Sun temple was conceptualized and created to make a colossal chariot drawn by seven animated looking horses. Hindu Mythology refers that the Sun’s chariot is drawn by seven celestial horses, this is what the temple has implemented in its basic idea and architecture. It is an outstanding exhibition of ancient Indian craftsmanship at its best and therefore finds place in Top 22 religious destinations in India.
European sailors called this temple Black Pagoda while they used to call Jagannath Puri temple white Pagoda. Those sailors used them as landmarks.
In ancient times Sun god (Surya devta) was worshipped as one of the two prime deities. The other used to be mother Earth (Dharti mata). Sun God was the chief deity who was the reason for light, life giving energy and considered biggest healer of diseases. He was accepted as fulfiller of desires in humans. His was the reason people used to pray him more than any deity.
How to reach
Puri is 35 km from Konark and takes you in 35 minutes, regular buses are also available. The nearest railway station is there in Puri. Nearest airport is 65 km away in Bhubaneshwar.
The chariot temple has 12 pairs of magnificently carved huge wheels of 10meter diameter, with seven spritely looking horses in front pulling the chariot of Sun. It’s a huge temple, now ruined at many places. A world heritage site, the temple is being preserved for its outstanding architectural value. The original height is estimated to be 70m (230 feet), though the time has weathered it. The weak soil is also blamed for not bearing the weight of super structure of sanctum sanctorum portion. Among the surviving areas of the temple are Nata Mandira the dance hall, 128 feet (30m) high audience hall Jagamohana and dining hall, Bhoga Mandapa.
Major interest of the tourists is in its carved statues and explicit erotic sculptures of Mithunas.
Konark – what to see besides Sun temple
Two smaller temples have been discovered near the Sun temple from 11th century of one of Sun’s wife Mayadevi and other’s deity is not known yet. The sculptures of Balarama, Varaha and Trivikrama have been discovered there also. There are other strayed fallen sculpture which can be seen in the Archaeological survey of India’s museum.
Konark is renowned for its‘Konark Dance Festival’ held here every year and promotes the ancient classical dance forms like Odissi, Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi and the local Odisha’s Chhau dance. Another festival is held every year with great fanfare at Konark is ‘Magha Saptami Mela’ held on the banks of Chandrabhaga River. Millions of devotees gather here to take a holy dip in this river on the occasion as this dip is believed to keep away all illnesses.
The tourists coming to Konark also visit the Chandrabhaga Beach, one of the most exotic beaches in Odisha (Orissa) offering a picturesque view. The beach is at a short distance from the sun temple adorned by palm and casuarinas.