Konark Temple is the most popular and major attraction of Konark in Orissa. Konark is located at an approximate distance of 65 kms from Bhubaneshwar and 35 kms from Puri. The term 'Konark' has been derived from 'Kona' and 'Arka' that means 'Corner' and 'Sun' respectively. Konark is actually positioned on the north-east corner of Puri, so this is how it came to be known as Konark. In 1250 AD, Konark temple was built by King Narsingha Deva to commemorate his victory over Muslims. The temple is basically dedicated to Lord Suyra or Sun God. Due to this fact, it is also popular as Sun Temple. The intricate carvings and rich sculpture make this temple truly a sight to behold.
The architecture of the temple makes one to admire the Orissan style of art. The special feature of this temple is that the shrine wholly erected in the form of a huge chariot. This chariot is placed on twelve pairs of splendidly carved wheels and drawn by seven dynamic horses. According to one saying, these 12 pair of wheels symbolizes 24 hours in a day, while the other say, these wheels represent 12 months of the year. Seven days of the week are said to be the representation of seven horses. The wheels of this chariot have an interesting fact behind their formation. Each wheel has a set of eight spokes and these spokes serve as sundials. The shadows made by these sundials give exact time of the day.
On the entrance, one can see two huge lions that appear to be guarding the temple. To reach the main shrine, a flight of steps is required to be taken. On climbing the stairs, two life-size statues of horses are visible on both sides. Inside the temple, walls imprinted with intricate carvings, sculptures and bas-reliefs (figures projecting from a plain background) can enthrall the aesthetic sense of any beholder. The main sanctum represents the regal stride of the Lord Surya. The actual idol of Sun God was removed from here and had been positioned in the Jagannath Temple.
The temple also comprises a 'Nat Mandapa' or Dancing Hall that is profound in its carvings. The images are carved in an erotic style and posture. These carvings depict figures of divine, semi-divine, human and animal figures along with floral and geometric adornment. The beautiful damsels and danseuse are noteworthy for their sensuous appeal. These sculptures appear full of emotions and gestures, which certainly generate a feeling in the heart of the onlooker.
However, the grand structure of this temple is mostly in ruins, still its exceptional architecture attracts people from both far and near. In India, Konark is one of the oldest places of Sun worshipping, mentioned in the ancient scriptures like 'Puranas'. Since the Vedic period, Lord Surya has been a popular deity in India. The Kings used to worship the Sun, seeking his blessings and brightness. The temple was conceived in the form of a chariot as it forms the mount of Lord Surya. The Sun God is shown in three images, which are actually sited in a way, so that they can face the Sun at dawn, noon and sunset.
Sun Temple is accredited for being one of the largest temples of India. Encircled by drifting sands, Sun Temple is a masterpiece shaped as a Chariot, as if, carrying the Sun God from the Heaven. The temple is said to have built in the time span of 16 years with the effort of 1200 masons. In the ancient times, sailors used to call the temple, a 'Black Pagoda', since the magnetic spire lured the ships to the shore causing shipwrecks. The temple was desecrated in the early 18th century by the attacks of Mughal Emperor, Jahangir. In the late 19th century, the remnants of this temple were excavated.
Initially, the temple was comprised of Gajasimha (Main Entrance), Nat Mandir (Dance Hall), Jagamohan (Audience Hall) and Deul (Main Sanctum). In the present day, Deul is not present since it collapsed late back, however Jagmohana is still there. Till date, people come to visit this striking temple of splendid architecture that has gained popularity all over the Globe.
Location : In Konark, at a distance of 35 kms in north-east of Puri, Odisha
Built in : 1250 AD
Dedicated to : Lord Surya / Sun God