Konark is one of the well known tourist attractions of
Orissa. Konark, Konark houses a colossal temple dedicated to the Sun God. Even in its
ruined state it is a magnificient temple reflecting the genius of the architects that
envisioned and built it. Bhubaneshwar, Konark and Puri constitute the Golden triangle of Orissa, visited in large
numbers by pilgrims and tourists.
Konark is also known as Konaditya.
The name Konark is derived form the words Kona - Corner and Arka
- Sun; it is situated on the north eastern corner of Puri or the Chakrakshetra.
Konark is also known as Arkakshetra.
This temple built in 1278 CE by the Ganga
King Narasimha Deva is one of the grandest temples of India and was
referred to as the Black Pagoda. The ruins of this temple were excavated
in late 19th century. The tower over the Garbagriha is missing, however the Jagmohana
is intact, and even in this state, it is awe inspiring.
Legend has it that Samba, the king of
Krishna and Jambavati entered the bathing chamber of Krishna's wifes, and was cursed by
Krishna with leprosy. It was decreed that he would be relieved of the curse by worshipping
the sun God on the sea coast north east of Puri. Accordingly Samba reached Konaditya
Kshetra and discovered an image of Surya seated on the lotus, worshipped him and was
relieved of his curse.
It is said that the temple was not completed as
conceived because the foundation was not strong enough to bear the weight of the heavy
dome. Local beleif has it that it was constructed in entirety, however its magnetic dome
caused ships to crash near the seashore, and that the dome was removed and destroyed and
that the image of the Sun God was taken to Puri.
The Temple: The Konark temple is
widely known not only for its architectural grandeur but also for the intricacy and
profusion of sculptural work. The entire temple has been conceived as a chariot of the sun
god with 24 wheels, each about 10 feet in diameter, with a set of spokes and elaborate
carvings. Seven horses drag the temple. Two lions guard the entrance, crushing elephants.
A flight of steps lead to the main entrance.
The nata mandir in front of the Jagamohana is also
intricately carved. Around the base of the temple, and up the walls and roof, are
carvings in the erotic style. There are images of animals, foliage, men, warriors on
horses and other interesting patterns. There are three images of the Sun God, positioned
to catch the rays of the sun at dawn, noon and sunset.
Shiva temple, built in the form of a chariot
during the age of Kulottunga Chola I (1075-1120), is the
earliest of this kind, and is still in a well preserved state. It is believed that
this temple set the pace for the ratha (chariot) vimana temples in India,
as a distant descendant of Kulottunga I on the female line, and thefamous Eastern Ganga
ruler Narasimha Deva, built the Sun Temple at Konark in the form
of a chariot in the 13th century. Kulottunga Chola is also credited with having built the
Suryanaar temple near Kumbhakonam. Temples dedicated to the Sun are not a common feature
in the Tamil speaking region of the Indian subcontinent.
Orissa Temple History
Sun Temples in India
Dakshinaarka Temple at Gaya
Sun Temple at Modhera
Bhramanya Dev Temple at Unao
Daarasuram Airavateeswarar Temple