Konark – famous Sun temple near Puri

Konark – famous for its 13th century Sun Temple is perhaps the most popular tourist destination of Orissa after Puri, the city of Lord Jagannatha. The temple of the Sun God is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site visited by tourists from around the world throughout the year. The sprawling beach of Konark at a strolling distance from the Sun temple is rated amongst the finest beaches of India on the eastern coastline. The sea-side town of Konark is thronged by tourists who are either here for pilgrimage to the Sun Temple or enjoying the architectural grandeur of the temple or are here to relax in the white sand of the wide beach.


Exquisite view of the Konark Sun Temple

Where is Konark?

Konark is a small town in the Puri district of the state of Orissa, India, on the coast of Bay of Bengal. Konark is just 65 Km from the state capital Bhubaneswar.

About Konark

Konark, at a distance of just 35 Km from the sacred city of Puri offers a unique combination of blue sea, beach having white sand, and temple dedicated to the Sun God. The temple town of Konark (also spelled as Konarak) though famous for the Sun Temple also has a number of other temples dedicated to various Hindu gods and goddesses.
The Sun Temple at Konark was built in about 1250 AD by Narasimhadeva, a king of the East Ganga dynasty to commemorate military success against Muslim invaders. It remained buried under a huge mound of sand until early 20th century, when restoration by the British rechristened the shrine in its present form. However according to Hindu mythology the temple was built by Samba, son of Lord Krishna. Samba was cured from leprosy after a rigorous penance of 12 years by Surya, the Sun God, in whose honour he built the temple.
Description of Konark would probably be incomplete without the mention of famous “Konark Dance Festival” held every year from 1st to 5th December. Classical dance performance on the open-air stage with the floodlit Sun Temple at the backdrop creates an illusion that the images, carved in the Temple become alive to perform on this open-air stage. The accompanying divine music and the breathtaking movements of the performers turn the event into a truly out-of-this-world spectacle.

Sightseeing in and around Konark

The Sun Temple – The entire temple has been designed in the shape of a chariot carrying the Sun God and is made of black stone. The twelve pairs of exquisitely-ornamented wheels of the chariot dragged by seven galloping horses carved around the base are the major attractions of the temple. The spokes of these wheels serve as sundials, and the shadows formed suggests the precise time of the day. The entrance is guarded by two lions, each crushing a war elephant. Each elephant in turn lies on top of a human body. The surfaces of the temple are carved with exquisite stone sculptures with a wide variety of subjects, including many erotic scenes based on the Kama Sutra.
Just beyond the porch is a double staircase that leads to a shrine containing a statue of Surya, the Sun God. The beautiful image is carved of high-quality green chlorite stone and is one of the masterpieces of Konark. Surya is accompanied by a small figure of Aruna, the charioteer, at his feet.
Despite the fact that the temple, also known as Black Pagoda, is in ruins, and has lost many of its original structures, the remaining porch area and the structures of this temple complex represent a pinnacle of the Indian stonework art. The remaining intricate stone sculpture speaks highly of the imaginative power of the artistes of the time.


Natamandira or Dancing hall of Sun temple at Konark

The Konark Sun Temple houses a Natamandira or dancing hall at the entrance of the temple. This is where the temple dancers used to perform dances in homage to the Sun god during rituals. Sculptures of musicians and dancers in its pillars suggest the fact.
Only two subsidiary temples out of the 22 exist today.
Mayadevi Temple – To the west of the main temple are the remains of temple no.2 popularly called the temple of Mayadevi, believed to be one of the wives of Lord Surya. This small shrine was built earlier than the main Sun temple
Vaishnava Temple – The small brick temple facing east in south-west corner of the compound was discovered in 1956 during the sand clearance. Also called temple no.3 the temple is devoid of any exterior decoration. Images of Balarama and two parsvadevatas of Varaha and Trivikrama were unearthed (now displayed in Archaeological Museum, Konark) proving its Vaishnava affiliation.
Nabgrah Temple – There is a Temple containing the nine planets- Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu. It is located to the right of main entrance.
Archaeological Museum – There is an Archaeological Museum Just outside the Sun Temple that contains many sculptures and carvings found during the temple excavations. This is must visit for tourists and students of archaeology.
Sacred Pond – Just beside the Konark beach is the sacred pond where Samba, son of Lord Krishna is believed to have been cured from leprosy. During the the full moon phase of Magha, a big religious festival is held at the Chandrabhaga beach and is known as Magha Saptami Mela.
Ramchandi Temple – 8 Km from Konark, on the confluence of river Kushabhadra, is a religious place of worship where Goddess Ramchandi is worshipped.
Kuruma – At a distance of about 8 Km from Konark, Kuruma is the place where a Buddhist site has been excavated. Antique images of Buddha have been unearthed from here.

Sand art at Chandrabhaga beach of Konark

Chandrabhaga Beach – Just 3 Km from the Sun Temple is the Konark beach, popularly known as Chandrabhaga beach. Famous for providing magnificent view of sunrise and sunset, the long and wide sylvan sand of the beach is an ideal place to relax and rejuvenate. The beach guarantees solitude with the charm of the dense casuarinas grooves, fringing the light house and the orange-red sun mingling with the sea. Apart from soaking in the Sun, strolling on the beach is a pleasant experience.
The shrines of Laxminarayan, Amareswara, and Barahi at Chaursi are good excursions from Konark.

How to reach Konark?

By Air – The nearest airport is Bhubaneshwar at a distance of about 65 Km. Bhubaneshwar is well connected to other major cities of the country.
By Rail – Puri Railway Station at a distance of about 34 Km is the nearest railhead. Puri is well connected by rail to other major Indian cities.
By Road – Being located on NH23, Konark is well connected with other parts of the country through a good network of roads.

Where to stay at Konark?

O.T.D.C. Panthanivas (06758-236831)
O.T.D.C. Yatrinivas (06758-236820)
Royal Lodge (06758-236818)
Konark Lodge (06758-236502)
Travellers Lodge (06758-236820)

Filed Under: BeachesFeatued PostHistorical Places


About the Author: Hi! friends, travelling is my passion and my only hobby. High mountains to deep seas, lush green forests to barren deserts, holy places to sites of historical importance, - every beautiful place attracts me the same way. I want everyone to feel the same and so through my writing I intend to take you all to a virtual trip to all those lovely places that I have visited.

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