Ideal Time: 2 - 3 hours
Open Time: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Cost: Indian Nationals: INR 30,
Foreign Nationals: INR 500,
Non-commercial photography is free.
Konark Dance Festival Passes: INR 400 per person
Situated on the north eastern corner of Puri, Konark Sun Temple is a World Heritage site and one of the prime tourist attractions of Odisha. Pulled by a set of seven horses, four on the left side and three on the right, this massive temple is built in the form of a giant ornamented chariot of the Sun god. The word 'Konark' comes from the combination of two words 'Kona' and 'Arka'. 'Kona' means corner and 'Arka' means the sun so the temple means 'Sun of the Corner.' This massive temple is understood to be a cosmic chariot of the sun god. It has three deities dedicated to the Sun God on three different sides of the temple which catch the direct rays of sun in the morning, afternoon and evening. There is also a dedicated archaeological museum inside the temple complex. The Konark Dance Festival is held every year usually in the month of February which attracts a lot of foreign and Indian tourists. The Sun Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site dedicated to devotees of the Sun God.
Construction of the Sun Temple is credited to Narsimhadeva, a ruler of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. It is assumed that the temple was built to commemorate the victory over Tughral Tughan Khan in 1255 CE. A common local legend, bound to be heard from your travel guide is the presence of a massive magnetic rod at the centre of the temple which interfered with the compasses of travelling ships causing wrecks which ultimately led to its collapse. The wheels of the Sun Temple are actually sundials which tell the time accurately. It was also known as 'Black Pagoda' because of its colour. The Konark Temple, as seen today was merely an entrance to the main temple back then which has fallen now.
Fascicle No 7 of Madala Panji (The Official Record Book of the Jagannath Temple) of Mukunda Deva (1551-1568 AD) records the cause of demolition as a result of invasion by Muslim Invader named Kala-Pahad (who is also incidentally claimed to be a Hindu Renegade) in 1568 AD, when he removed key structural supports of the monument and damaged the idols but the theory doesn't hold much ground. A later entry of the Madala Panji, in Fascicle No 6 of Raja Narasimha Deva, son of Raja Purusottama Deva (1621-1647), it becomes clear that the temple collapsed. The Fascicle notes that "In the 9th Anka of the reign of this Raja, the big lion, the Gaja Simha, on the eastern side of the Konark Temple fell down towards the east, together with the Eastern Temple Wall. At this time the hands of puja image were broken, whereupon the entire country fell into great affliction." The entry further notes the shifting of the Chalanti Prateema (The portable images) to the Jagannath Temple at Puri.
The Sun Temple built in a traditional Kalinga style of architecture has been made in the form of a massive chariot of the Sun God with twelve pairs of sumptuously engraved stone wheels, pulled by a set of seven horses. The temple is brilliantly slanted to the east so the first rays of sunrise forays the main entrance. The entrance is manned by two huge lions on either side, both crushing a man and an elephant beneath. Erotica, monsters, beasts, warriors, and animals are carved on the outer walls all around the temple. Sculptures are vividly similar to the ones at Khajuraho Temple in Madhya Pradesh. The main sanctum (Vimana) which was a massive seventy meters tall fell back in 1837 due to weak soil and the huge weight of the structure. An audience hall about 30 meters high still stands and is the last of the main surviving structures.
Archeologists have also discovered a couple of other temples from 11th century around the main temple. One of them is known as Mayadevi Temple dedicated to one of the Sun god's wife and the other is assumed to be dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Konark SUn Temple has an abundance of erotic sculptures known as 'Mithuna' sculptures. There are no concrete explanations for the presence of these sculptures on the outer walls of the temple. A common legend is that the sculptures were built after the Kalinga War to promote love making due to the huge loss of lives.
Konark Sun Temple is one of the last standing structures before the fifteenth century in the country. The sun rays reach the Nata Mandir from the coast and reflect through the diamond at the center of the idol. The idol is believed to float mid air due to arrangements of the magnets at the top of the temple but they were later removed due to the disturbance caused to coastal voyages.
Summers in Odisha are really humid and visiting the place during this season is ill-advised. September to March is the best place to visit the place, the temperature is pleasant and cool.
The Dance Festival is usually held in the month of February so you might want to plan your trip accordingly.
The Sun Temple is 35 kilometers away from Puri which is also the nearest railway station. The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar sixty kilometers away which is also the state's capital.
Regular buses and taxis ply from Puri which is an hour drive away. Parking spaces are aplenty if you are planning to come here on your own vehicle. Rates of private taxis range from INR 1000 to INR 1800 depending upon the vehicle you choose. Bus rates range from INR 250 to INR 400 depending upon the attractions you want to cover.
Sightseeing, photography, camel and horse rides on the Konark Beach
Local shops sell handicrafts, paintings, and various wood and stone decorative materials. You'll also find vendors selling temple souvenirs and sea shells on the Konark Beach.
A special local handicraft called 'Chandua' which an applique work of Pipli are available in varieties with prices ranging from INR 600 to INR 1400 depending upon the art, craft and the size.
There are a lot of dining options available in the vicinity of the options. Veg and Non-veg restaurants serve delicious food at affordable rates. One must try the exquisite Odiya delicacy, 'Aloo Dum Dahivada'.
Sun Temple Hotel and Hotel Chandrabhaga are famous restaurants within a kilometer of the temple serving delicious local cuisines. Continental and Chinese cuisines are also available here.
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