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Konark Sun Temple

Abodes of Surya
Temples of Orissa

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.

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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.

The Melakkadambur 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.

See Also:
Orissa Temple History
Sun Temples in India

Dakshinaarka Temple at Gaya
Sun Temple at Modhera
Bhramanya Dev Temple at Unao

Melakkadambur Shiva Temple
Daarasuram Airavateeswarar Temple