The Konark Sun Temple is another one of the 7 wonders of India and is located in Konark, Orissa. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has also featured on various lists of Seven Wonders of India. The temple is located 35 km from Puri and 65 km from Bhubaneswar connected by all-weather national highways. There are public bus connectivity from both Bhubaneswar and Puri.
History Legends and Myths of Konark Temple
Konark (Kona means corner or angle + Arka means the Sun) is a place, where the ‘sun appears to be rising at an angle’. As per Puranic literature, Konark is an important place of sun worship: as per Samba Purana, the ‘first Sun Temple’ was built in Konark in the 19th Century BCE, This is said to be the origin of the sun worship tradition in Konark. As per Madala Panji, the next Sun Temple was built in the 9th Century CE by the Keshari Dynasty. The existing Sun temple was built by King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty about 1250 CE. Abdul Fazal (1556-1605 CE) in Ain-E-Akbari says that besides the Sun Temple, there were six other temples inside the compound of the Sun Temple, and 22 other temples in its vicinity. The grand temple we see today is only a part of the original temple complex, which fell to ruin for reasons unknown.
Architecture of Konark Sun Temple
The temple is dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya, what remains of the temple complex has the appearance of a 100-foot (30 m) high chariot with immense wheels and horses, all carved from khondalite stone. Once over 200 feet (61 m) high, much of the temple is now in ruins, in particular the large shikara tower over the sanctuary; at one time this rose much higher than the mandapa that remains. The structures and elements that have survived are famed for their intricate artwork, iconography, and themes, including erotic (kama) and copulation (mithuna) statues. The Sun Temple is a wonderful culmination of all the defining elements of Kalinga architecture and includes a jagmohana (audience hall), shikhara (crown), vimana (tower) and natmandir (dance hall). Legend has it that the temple’s plans were so accurate that the first rays of the rising sun fell on the image of Surya enshrined within the garbha griha or sanctum sanctorum of the main temple
Interesting Facts about Konark
The temple is also called as “Black Pagoda” by the sailors and it served as a navigation reference for them. It is a major pilgrimage site for Hindus, who gather here every year for the Chandrabhaga Mela ( a fair) around the month of February. Konark Sun Temple wheel is depicted on the reverse side of the Indian currency note of Rs. 10 to signify its importance to Indian cultural heritage.
How to Reach Konark
Air: Bhubaneswar is the nearest airport – 65 kms. Indian Airlines has flights from Delhi, Kolkota, Visakhapatnam, Raipur, Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai
Rail: The nearest railheads are Bhubaneswar and Puri. 65 km from Bhubaneswar via pipili and 35 km from Puri on marine drive road
Road: Konark is connected by good all-weather motorable roads. Regular Bus services are operating from Puri and Bhubaneswar. Besides Public transport Private tourist bus services and taxis are also available from Puri and Bhubaneswar. For internal transport, Auto rickshaws and Cycle rickshaws are available near konark temple