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Prateek Majumder
Apr 20, 20224 min read

Konark Sun Temple | History and Significance

The Konark Sun Temple is a well-known Indian temple devoted to Surya, the Hindu sun deity. “Konark” is a combination of two Sanskrit words: “kona,” which means “corner” or “angle,” and “arka,” which means “sun.” The temple is located on the Bay of Bengal coastline in the Indian state of Odisha, 35 kilometres northeast of Puri and 65 kilometres southeast of Bhubaneswar. This sun temple from the thirteenth century was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

Konark Sun Temple

The spectacular temple, constructed as a massive chariot of the Sun God, is a visual feast, a storehouse of art forms, and the pinnacle of the Kalinga School of Temple Architecture. The area is particularly well-known for its peaceful and beautiful Chandrabhaga Beach. Konark joins Bhubaneswar and Puri to form the “Golden Triangle.”


History

Konarak appears in ancient Hindu scriptures of legendary importance, such as the Puranas. Konaditya (Konarak) was thought to be the most sacred location in the whole Odisha area for Surya worship. Samba, one of the deity Krishna’s numerous sons, built a shrine in Surya’s honour in thanks for mending his skin problem. He also imported some Magi (sun-worshippers) from Persia since the local Brahmanas (the Hindu priestly elite) refused to worship Surya’s image. This myth was originally linked with a sun temple in northwestern India, but it was relocated to Konarak in order to increase the holiness of the new centre by making it the location of Samba’s original temple.

Konark Sun Temple Puri

King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga dynasty erected Konark’s sun temple in the thirteenth century in then-Orissa. It was named after the Hindu sun god Surya.
The precise purpose of Narasimhadeva’s construction of the shrine is unknown. Historians believe the monarch did so to express his thanks for a request being granted or to celebrate a conquest. Also, he may have done it just to express his devotion to Surya, but not without including his own viewpoint on life as viewed through the eyes of a king. This is demonstrated by sculptures showing royal pastimes like hunts, processions, and military scenes, emphasising the notion that the Sun Temple is the realisation of a bright dream of an ambitious and great monarch, secular to the core and full of life.
The temple was built with three different types of stone: chlorite, laterite, and chondrite. Khondalite (albeit of low quality) was used throughout the monument, whereas chlorite was limited to doorframes and a few sculptures, and laterite was utilised in the foundation, the platform’s (invisible) core, and the stairs.

Significance:

Konark is an example of Kalinga (or Orissan) architecture. The main sanctum (named rekha deul or bada deul) is flanked by lesser shrines (bhadra deu), as well as the main audience hall (jagamohana), a dancing hall (nata mandira), and the meal hall (bhoga mandapa); the rekha deul no longer exists.

Konark Sun Temple Wheel

The chariot has twelve pairs of wheels, each with a diameter of twelve feet, reflecting the twelve months of the Hindu calendar. The wheel’s eight spokes represent the eight intervals of the day, and the seven horses represent the seven days of the week.
The temple’s walls are adorned with sculptures and reliefs, in addition to the temple’s huge chariot with twenty-four wheels and seven horses. An eleven-foot-tall statue of Surya, several statues of King Narasimhadeva I, relief statues showing scenes of home life, and sensual sculptures are among the works. There are also life-size lions, elephants, and horses on display.
The Konark Sun temple is well-known for its sculptures, which are mostly located on the second level of the porch building. The observer is immediately struck by the subject’s candour, which is mixed with an overpowering tenderness and poetic flow. That same humanistic and indulgent outlook on life can be found in the majority of the sculptures at Konark, where thousands of human, animal and heavenly personages engage in the entire spectrum of the “carnival of life” with an overpowering feeling of compelling realism. Critics regard it as the greatest example of Orissa art, owing to its excellent traceries and scrollwork, as well as the lovely and natural cut of animal and human forms.


How to reach Konark Sun Temple:

Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar is 65 kilometres away.
Bhubaneswar (65 km) and Puri (35 km) are the closest railway stations.
The National Highway connects Bhubaneswar (65 kilometres) through Pipili and Puri (35 kilometres) via Marine Drive.


Entry and Tickets:

Indian people can purchase temple tickets for Rs 40.
If you are a foreign national, it will cost you Rs 600.
For nationals of BIMSTEC and SAARC countries, the entrance cost to Konark Temple is Rs 40.
The temple is open from 8 AM to 5 PM.

Check out some content related to Konark Sun Temple on our Youtube Channel:

Konark Sun Temple | History | Museum Walkthrough Tour 

Konark Sun Temple Walkthrough | Complete View | 13th-century CE Sun Temple at Konark 

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