Watching sunrise in a place dedicated to sun god! A trip to Konark Sun Temple promises this and much more. Located in the eastern state, Orissa in India, the temple is an architectural marvel and is one of the leading places to visit in India. It is listed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to its unique architecture and historic significance.
Konark Sun Temple facts, a quick look into the past
This age-old structure has a lot of history surrounding it. A quick recap of some of those:
It was built as early as 13th century, by king Narasimhadeva of Eastern Ganga dynasty, to commemorate his victory over Muslim ruler Tughar Khan. So the temple is actually a victory memorial!
Originally it was constructed on the banks of River Chandrabhaga, but waters receded later on.
Another notable point among Konark Sun Temple facts is that it is a part of Orissa’s Golden Triangle, the other two being Puri and Bhubaneshwar.
The dark color of the temple led to European sailors calling it by the name ‘Black Pagoda’.
The name Konark also has a significance. It is believed to be coined from two Sanskrit words, ‘Kona’ which means corner and Ark which means Sun. So the literal meaning of the place is ‘Sun of the corner’. Apt for a place which, although located in a corner of India, attracts people from all over!
What to expect in Konark Sun Temple?
Konark is the temple that occupies top slot in the list of sun temples in India. When you view this awe-inspiring structure, isn’t it good to be well-informed about its architectural brilliance?
The temple is shaped like a giant chariot dedicated to Lord Surya, or sun god. 12 pairs of exquisitely carved stone wheels support the chariot from both sides.
A set of seven horses are depicted as pulling the chariot, 4 on side and 3 on the other. Wonder why the odd pairing? One reasoning is that the seven horses represent seven colors of rainbow, emanating from sun, the source of all light. Sounds logical, right?
Konark temple’s magnet is something that has caught the fancy of many enthusiastic explorers. It is believed that while constructing the temple, a 52 ton magnet was placed on top of the main sanctum. This caused the idol which was partly made of iron to float midair, with no support! But the pull of the magnet kept on top was so strong that it caused lots of shipwrecks by disturbing vessels passing along the coast. Hence it was removed from its place. All this is hearsay and no one knows the current whereabouts of Konark temple magnet.
The wheels of the chariots in the temple are, in fact sun dials, which can be used to calculate exact time by seeing the sunlight falling on its spokes. One cannot but marvel at the scientific brilliance of the craftsmen, even in those days!
There are three deities of sun god placed in three different sides of the temple so that they will capture sun rays falling at dawn, noon and dusk.
Though a large portion of the temple has been ruined, structures which are still standing like Nata Mandapa and Bhoga Mandapa tell volumes about the past glory of the temple.
Outer walls of the temple are adorned with sculptures of wars, animals, dancers and mythical creatures.
Rise and shine in Konark
Orissa Konark temple sunrise is like a jewel in the crown of Orissa. The temple has been built slanting to the east, so that the first rays of sun fall at the main entrance. First light at the feet of deity, a sublime dedication to the sustainer of all creation! It is a magnificent sight to watch sunrise from Konark. In olden days, sun rays would fall on Nata Mandapa and reflect through the diamond placed at the center of idol. Though the idol is not kept in the sanctum any more, Orissa Konark temple sunrise is still something that attracts tourists from far and wide.
Best time to visit Konark Sun temple
Being the most admired one in the list of sun temples in India, Konark is visited almost year-round. But summers can be very hot and humid. The best time would be from September to March, when the weather will be pleasant and sun tolerable.
How to reach Konark?
One of the best places to visit in India, Konark does not disappoint tourists in the matter of connectivity.
By air: Bhubaneshwar, at a distance of 60 kms, is the nearest airport for reaching Konark. Bhubaneshwar airport has connecting flights to rest of India.
By rail and road: Puri, the nearest railway station, is a distance of 35 kms from Konark. Road travel is also easy as Konark falls on highway.
A trip to the abode of sun god is the best way to connect with your inner source of energy. Next time you feel exhausted by the hassles of daily life, say goodbye to the trivial and escape to the exotic.
Author: E Jey
Just a passionate traveler who loves scribbling his expeditions @ www.jauntmonkey.com, www.outonroads.com, and www.blogthatall.com