Sun God, Konarak Sun Temple

Sun God, Konarak Sun Temple


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Konark. The temple of Sun God

Freedom !! At last..

There’s no denying the fact that the Coronavirus pandemic has changed our worlds, and this is going to last longer than one can imagine. As things start getting back to the so-called new normal and the roads opened, all I wanted badly was to be back on them and feel the sense of freedom that I had been missing for long. Road trips are all about the adrenaline rush and when I’m behind the wheel, I feel free. I feel liberated and alive. In the present circumstances Road trips are perhaps the safest way ahead in the world of travelling. Pack your bags, get your car serviced, and hit the roads, nothing is more liberating than it.

I was planning for this trip for quite some time but didn’t want to do any travel in 2020. Hence the plan was to hit the roads in 2021. Likewise the plan was made to stay at Puri for and just enjoy the nature. I was more exited about the travel part as for last 9 months I couldn’t do any long drive, so wanted badly to enjoy driving on the beautiful stretch of NH-16 and NH-316.

This part of the travelogue is only restricted to my visit to the magnificent Konark Sun Temple.

The road from Puri to Konark is very picturesque, dotted with sand dunes and Casuarina trees. However, due to the tragic effects of Cyclone Fani, hundreds of Casuarinas that once lined the roads, now lie uprooted, by the side of the road. The distance of Konark Sun Temple from Puri is roughly about 50 Kms and the drive took us a little more than an hour.

Beautiful surface to drive on.

There are three entrances to the Sun Temple. In the absence of a dedicated parking lot for private cars, we had to park our car on the road near the temple complex earmarked for parking and walked down to the temple. The multitude of souvenir shops selling traditional gift items inside the temple complex were (qualifying multitude) was a major distraction. I was surprised to see huge crowd at Konark temple. The day being first Sunday of 2021, many tourists visited Konark Sun Temple. I was of the belief that online ticketing was only permitted but surprised to see huge rush at the ticket counter. There was no sign of social distancing, which for once prompted me to think about returning back without even entering the temple complex. Later changed my mind, avoided the rush at the ticket counter and purchased online ticket. But the good thing is that no one is permitted to enter the temple complex without wearing a mask.

Architecture of the Konark Sun Temple:

The Sun temple has been built as a majestic and colossal chariot which is about to make its first flight. The King Narasimhadeva of the Ganga dynasty was the worshipper of the Sun god, and so the temple was made in the praise of the Sun God. The chariot was made in such a way that the Sun God himself was perceived to be driving the chariot, while being seated inside the “Garbagriha” or the inner sanctum. The chariot is drawn by seven horses and twenty four wheels. Each horse denotes a day of the week and each wheel depicted the hours of the day.

First View of the Temple. Angular view of temple. On the right of the frame is Natya Mandapa No Compromise with safety. With the sun setting at the background, it's a photographers delight.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this temple is the perfect example of an era when Kalingan architecture had reached its pinnacle. We marveled at the majestic temple of the 13th century with the geometric precision of its intricate carvings. It is believed to have been built on the edge of the sea–which today has fortunately receded to a respectful distance. The temple was made of three types of stones. The stones were mainly black in colour. The Konark Temple, when built, served as a beacon to the ships in the Bay of Bengal. The sailors could see the temple from the sea and they called the temple as Black Pagoda.

Standing tall. Beauty in ruins.

We realized that from the sides, the temple looks exactly like a chariot, and from the front, a temple. The Sun God idol is said to be floating mid-air inside the main sanctum due to the trick of magnets and metals. Infact, there are stories that go on to say that many ships that sailed the Bay of Bengal when came near the Konark Temple were destroyed due to the pull of the magnet. The main door of the temple is sealed since long. It is said that the magnet too, has been removed and the deities placed elsewhere! The temple would have simply crumbled down to earth had the doors were not sealed. This I learnt from some shopowner outside the temple.

The temple at the back and deul or sanctuary infront (that collapsed over a century ago) is the jagamohana or bhadra deul. Stone sculpture of roaring Simha-Gaja (Lion-Elephant) To the west of main temple is temple Mayadevi. It is said to be reclaimed from sand at the beginning of the20th century and is said to be older then main temple. According to locals, the missing image called Ramachandi, is now worshipped in a temple ,8 kms away from Konarak. South western view of temple.

The main tower no longer exists. The architecture resembles the holy JagannathTemple of Puri. On either side of the main temple are colossal figures of royal elephants and horses.

View of a Wheel. Learnt that 3 types of rock were used i.e. chlorite, laterite and khondalite.The facing stones were smoothly finished and fitted together so finely that the joints are hardly visible. The 8 spokes in each wheel symbolise the 8 prahars (time frames) of the day. View from the northern side of the temple.

The original temple, which had a main sanctum sanctorum, estimated to have been 229 feet tall, is supposed to have collapsed in 1837. The main mandapa or hall (Jagamohana), which is about 128 feet tall, still stands and is the principal structure in the surviving ruins. Among the structures that have survived to the current day are the dance hall (natamandira) and the dining hall (bhogamandapa).

Guarding northern side are two life-sized elephants. From the northern side.

Coming out of the temple, there is an Interpretation Centre opposite the exit gate. The Centre, with its collection of sculpture replicas from the Sun Temple ruins, contains rare documents and fascinating theories regarding the temple architecture, structure, and sculpture, as well as its history endorsed by ASI.

In the trunk of the guarding elephants is a warrior with a shield. Front view of the temple.

Arka Khetra Sun Temple Interpretation centre

There is a interpretation centre set up by the Indian Oil Foundation for an introduction to the world heritage monument - the Konark Sun Temple. The Interpretation Centre is spread across eight acres. It is developed as a new-age museum, it uses different means of communication to aid and stimulate the discovery process while enhancing the visitor’s intellectual and emotional connect to the site. Interested tourists can keep aside 30-45 minutes for this place before enteringthe Sun Temple for enhancing their experience.

This centre tells the story of the construction and the fall of the sun temple with beautiful replicas and a superb audio visual introduction . For adults there are galleries depicting the nuances of the temple architecture in Odisha and India along with several miniature replicas. All halls are air-conditionied and the centre includes a restaurant and clean toilets.

This place is a must visit for etravel enthusiasts who are interested in history of the temple.

When we came out of the temple ,it was already dark, when we concluded our Konark Temple visit and there was no point visiting the Chandrabhaga beach then, we straightway headed back to the hotel.


THE BELIEF

The reason for the building is speculated to be the expression of gratitude to the Sun god by the king for a wish fulfilment or to commemorate a conquest. The Sun Temple is directly associated with the idea and belief of the personification of the Sun God, which is mentioned at many places in India’s ancient and classical texts. The Sun is personified as a divine being with its own history, ancestry, and family, which plays a prominent role in the myths and legends of creation. The temple’s aesthetic and visually staggering sculptural narratives also provide a priceless peek into the economic, political, social, and religious life of the people during the medieval period in India.


History of Sun Temple at Konark, Orissa

This professional YouTube video shares the significant history and amazing artwork of the Sun Temple at Konark in Orissa, India. This Sun Temple took 12 hundred artisans and architects 12 years to construct. Learn also about the curative powers of Suyra, the Hindu Sun god, and the legend of Samba, son of Lord Krishna, who was cured of leprosy by worshiping the sun.

History of Sun Temple at Konark, Orissa

The legend says that King Narasimha Deva-I of the Ganga Dynasty had ordered the temple to be built as a royal proclamation of the political supremacy of his dynasty. A workforce of 12 hundred artisans and architects invested their creative talent, energy and artistic commitment for an exhausting period of 12 years. The king had already spent an amount equivalent to the state’s revenue receipts of 12 years. However, the completion of the construction was nowhere in sight. Then the king issued a final command that the work be completed by a stipulated date. The team of architects headed by Bisu Maharana was at their wit’s end. It was then that Dharmapada, the 12 year old son of the chief architect Bisu Maharana, arrived there as a visiting onlooker. He became aware of the anxiety looming large among the architects. Although he did not have any practical experience of temple construction, he was thorough in his study of the theories of temple architecture. He offered to solve the confounding problem of fixing the last copping stone at the top of the temple. He surprised everyone by doing that himself. But soon after this achievement the dead body of this adolescent prodigy was found on the sea beach at the foot of the temple. Legend says that Dharmapada laid down his life to save his community.

The temple was dedicated to the Sun-God(Arka) popularly called Biranchi-Narayan, and the tract in which it is situated was known as Arka-Kshetra as well as padma-kshetra. According to mythology, Samba, son of Lord Krishna, was smitten with leprosy due to the curse of Lord Krishna. Samba for twelve years underwent severe penance at Mitravana, near the confluence of Chandrabhaga river with the sea at Konark, and ultimately succeeded in pleasing the god Surya, the healer of all skin diseases, and was cured of his illness. In gratitude, he decided to erect a temple in the honour of Surya. The day following his cure, while Samba was bathing in the Chandrabhaga, he discovered an image of the god, which had been fashioned out of Surya’s body by Viswakarma. Samba installed this image in a temple he built in Mitravana, where he propitiated the god. Since then throughout the ages this place has been regarded as sacred.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 8th, 2020 at 6:03 am and is filed under Videos.


Konark Sun Temple – The UNESCO-listed Pride of Orissa

The fascinating history of India is perfectly showcased by the many monuments dotting its map. Many of these have been inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, which testifies to their historical and cultural significance. Among these is Konark Sun Temple, belonging to the 13th century. The name ‘Konark’ comes from joining two Sanskrit words ‘Kona,’ meaning corner and ‘Ark’ meaning the sun, as the shrine is dedicated to the Sun God, Surya.

Konark Sun Temple Architecture

One of the finest examples of Kalinga style of architecture, it is built in the form of the chariot of the Sun God, with twelve pair of wheels. This chariot is drawn by seven giant stone horses. The sheer grandeur and the scale at which Konark Sun Temple has been constructed is enough to leave one spell-bound.

Konark Sun Temple History

The history of Konark Sun Temple is as fascinating as its architecture. It was built by King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. It is believed that around 1200 artisans worked for about 12 years to bring the intricately carved temple to life. The shrine is believed to be a frequented place of worship until the mid-16th century.

Even today, it is estimated that about 4000 people visit the temple every day. In the first week of December, a 5-day dance festival, one of the most popular dance festivals in the world, drawing a large number of tourists and devotees. A major highlight of Konark Sun Temple which takes place in the evening, recounting the historical and cultural significance of the temple.

If you are someone who fancies exploring old edifices and delving into the rich past of India, then you ought to book a hotel and cheap flight tickets to Orissa today and explore this magnificent structure.


Konark Sun Temple – The UNESCO-listed Pride of Orissa

The fascinating history of India is perfectly showcased by the many monuments dotting its map. Many of these have been inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, which testifies to their historical and cultural significance. Among these is Konark Sun Temple, belonging to the 13th century. The name ‘Konark’ comes from joining two Sanskrit words ‘Kona,’ meaning corner and ‘Ark’ meaning the sun, as the shrine is dedicated to the Sun God, Surya.

Konark Sun Temple Architecture

One of the finest examples of Kalinga style of architecture, it is built in the form of the chariot of the Sun God, with twelve pair of wheels. This chariot is drawn by seven giant stone horses. The sheer grandeur and the scale at which Konark Sun Temple has been constructed is enough to leave one spell-bound.

Konark Sun Temple History

The history of Konark Sun Temple is as fascinating as its architecture. It was built by King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. It is believed that around 1200 artisans worked for about 12 years to bring the intricately carved temple to life. The shrine is believed to be a frequented place of worship until the mid-16th century.

Even today, it is estimated that about 4000 people visit the temple every day. In the first week of December, a 5-day dance festival, one of the most popular dance festivals in the world, drawing a large number of tourists and devotees. A major highlight of Konark Sun Temple which takes place in the evening, recounting the historical and cultural significance of the temple.

If you are someone who fancies exploring old edifices and delving into the rich past of India, then you ought to book a hotel and cheap flight tickets to Orissa today and explore this magnificent structure.


Sun Temple, Konârak

On the shores of the Bay of Bengal, bathed in the rays of the rising sun, the temple at Konarak is a monumental representation of the sun god Surya's chariot its 24 wheels are decorated with symbolic designs and it is led by a team of six horses. Built in the 13th century, it is one of India's most famous Brahman sanctuaries.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Temple du Soleil à Konârak

Au bord du golfe du Bengale, dans le prolongement des rayons du soleil levant, le temple de Konarak est une représentation monumentale du char du dieu-soleil Surya, aux vingt-quatre roues abondamment sculptées de motifs symboliques, et de son attelage de six chevaux. Construit au XIII e siècle, c'est l'un des plus célèbres sanctuaires brahmaniques de l'Inde.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

معبد الشمس في كوناراك

يشكّل معبد كوناراك الواقع على تخوم خليج البنغال في امتداد أشعة الشمس البازغة عرضاً تذكارياً لعربة إلهة الشمس ثريا بعجلاتها الأربعة والعشرين المنحوتة بوفرة بزخارف رمزية وبربطها ستة أحصنة. إنّ هذا المعبد الذي شُيّد في القرن الثالث عشر هو من أشهر المعابد البرهمانية في الهند.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

科纳拉克太阳神庙

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Храм Солнца в Конараке

Освещаемый лучами восходящего солнца храм в Конараке на берегу Бенгальского залива &ndash это монументальное воплощение колесницы бога Солнца &ndash Сурьи, увлекаемой упряжкой из шести лошадей. Ее 24 колеса украшены символическими изображениями. Этот храм, воздвигнутый в XIII в., является одним из наиболее известных брахманских святилищ в Индии.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Templo del Sol en Konârak

Situado a orillas del golfo de Bengala y bañado por los rayos del sol naciente, el Templo del Sol es una representación monumental del carro del dios sol, Surya, con sus veinticuatro ruedas esculpidas con un sinfín motivos simbólicos y su tiro de seis caballos. Construido en el siglo XIII, este templo es uno de los más celebres santuarios brahmánicos de la India.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

コナーラクの太陽神寺院
Zonnetempel van Konârak

Langs de kustlijn van de Golf van Bengalen – badend in het licht van de rijzende zon – staat de tempel van Konârak. Het is een monumentale vertegenwoordiging van de triomfwagen van de zonnegod Surya. De 24 wielen van de wagen zijn versierd met symbolische ontwerpen en de kar wordt getrokken door zes paarden. Het is één van India’s meest beroemde brahmaanse heiligdommen en werd gebouwd in de 13e eeuw. Konârak is een bijzondere getuigenis van het 13e-eeuwse koninkrijk van Orissa. Het is direct en materieel verbonden aan het brahmaanse geloof en vormt een onschatbare link in de geschiedenis van de verspreiding van de Surya beweging.

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Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The Sun Temple at Konârak, located on the eastern shores of the Indian subcontinent, is one of the outstanding examples of temple architecture and art as revealed in its conception, scale and proportion, and in the sublime narrative strength of its sculptural embellishment. It is an outstanding testimony to the 13th-century kingdom of Orissa and a monumental example of the personification of divinity, thus forming an invaluable link in the history of the diffusion of the cult of Surya,the Sun God. In this sense, it is directly and materially linked to Brahmanism and tantricbelief systems. The Sun Temple is the culmination of Kalingan temple architecture, with all its defining elements in complete and perfect form. A masterpiece of creative genius in both conception and realisation, the temple represents a chariot of the Sun God, with twelve pairs of wheels drawn by seven horses evoking its movement across the heavens. It is embellished with sophisticated and refined iconographical depictions of contemporary life and activities. On the north and south sides are 24 carved wheels, each about 3 m in diameter, as well as symbolic motifs referring to the cycle of the seasons and the months. These complete the illusionary structure of the temple-chariot. Between the wheels, the plinth of the temple is entirely decorated with reliefs of fantastic lions, musicians and dancers, and erotic groups. Like many Indian temples, the Sun Temple comprises several distinct and well-organized spatial units. The vimana (principal sanctuary) was surmounted by a high tower with a shikhara (crowning cap), which was razed in the 19th century. To the east, the jahamogana (audience hall) dominates the ruins with its pyramidal mass. Farther to the east, the natmandir (dance hall), today unroofed, rises on a high platform. Various subsidiary structures are still to be found within the enclosed area of the rectangular wall, which is punctuated by gates and towers.The Sun Temple is an exceptional testimony, in physical form, to the 13th-century Hindu Kingdom of Orissa, under the reign of Narasimha Deva I (AD 1238-1264). Its scale, refinement and conception represent the strength and stability of the Ganga Empire as well as the value systems of the historic milieu. Its aesthetical and visually overwhelming sculptural narratives are today an invaluable window into the religious, political, social and secular life of the people of that period. The Sun Templeis directly associated with the idea and belief of the personification of the Sun God, which is adumbrated in the Vedas and classical texts. The Sun is personified as a divine being with a history, ancestry, family, wives and progeny, and as such, plays a very prominent role in the myths and legends of creation. Furthermore, it is associated with all the legends of its own artistic creation &ndash the most evocative being its construction over twelve years using 1,200 artisans &ndash and the stories about the deep commitment of its master builder, Bisu Moharana, to the project, in which his son (who was born during this period) later became involved. Konârak&rsquos location and name are important testimonies to all the above associations, and its architectural realisation is associated with the living traditions of Brahmanismand tantricpractices.

Criterion (i): A unique artistic achievement, the temple has raised up those lovely legends which are affiliated everywhere with absolute works of art: its construction caused the mobilization of 1,200 workers for 12 years. The architect, Bisu Moharana, having left his birthplace to devote himself to his work, became the father of a son while he was away. This son, in his turn, became part of the workshop and after having constructed the cupola of the temple, which his father was unable to complete, immolated himself by jumping into space.

Criterion (iii): Konârak is an outstanding testimony to the 13th-century kingdom of Orissa.

Criterion (vi): Directly and materially linked to the Brahman beliefs, Konârak is the invaluable link in the history of the diffusion of the cult of Surya, which originating in Kashmir during the 8th century, finally reached the shores of Eastern India.

The boundaries of the nominated property encompass the attributes necessary to represent the Outstanding Universal Value of the Sun Temple, Konârak. Within the inscribed and protected extent of the property, its surviving structures and sculptures, as well as the dislodged remains preserved in-situ, represent its quintessential qualities of architectural form, design and sculptural relief. Furthermore, the protected zone includes all areas that have the potential to reveal any unexplored archaeological remains that may possibly enhance the understanding of the property&rsquos Outstanding Universal Value. Identified and potential threats to the integrity of the property include development pressure: modernisation and urban growth affecting the environment of the monument environmental pressure: deforestation due to cyclones and human activities, saline breeze and sand blasting, vehicular movements, and microbiological growth tourism pressure: 40% increase in number of tourists natural disasters: flood and cyclones and local population growth. An extension of the site boundaries and the buffer zone around the property by land acquisition has been recommended for the better management of the site. Concerns over the structural integrity of elements of the site have been raised in the past, including the impact of monsoon rains and associated soil erosion. In addition, erosion of metal cramps supporting the structure due to salt air has in the past resulted in some damage.

Authenticity

The Sun Temple&rsquos authenticity of form and design is maintained in full through the surviving edifices, their placement within the complex, structures and the integral link of sculpture to architecture. The various attributes of the Sun Temple, including its structures, sculptures, ornamentation and narratives, are maintained in their original forms and material. Its setting and location are maintained in their original form, near the shore of the Bay of Bengal. In preserving the attributes as stated, the Sun Temple, Konârak repeatedly evokes the strong spirit and feeling associated with the structure, which is manifested today in the living cultural practices related to this property, such as the Chandrabhanga festival.


Designed as colossal chariot on 12 pairs of giant wheels being pulled by seven galloping horses, carrying the Sun god across the heavens, the temple was built by Raja Langula Narasimha Deva of the Ganga dynasty around 1250 AD.

Seven horses pulling the Sun Temple eastwards towards dawn is symbolic of the seven days of the week a dozen pair of wheels represent the 12 months of the year and the eight spokes in each wheel symbolise the eight ideal stages in a woman’s day.

These wheels are not normal wheels but show time as well – the spokes of the wheels make a sundial. One can analyze the exact time of the day by just looking at the shade cast by these spokes.

The beauty and aesthetics of the temple is best summed up by India’s noble laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who wrote about Konark:

“Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man.”

Rabindranath Tagore

The placement of the main temple and the Sun God had been aligned in such a way that the first ray of the Sun from the coast would cross the Nata Mandir (Dancing Hall) and would fall & reflect from the diamond placed at the crown of the Sun God.

The temple consists of a vimana (main temple) for housing the deity, Jagamohana, a prayer and an offering hall for worshippers and a nirtya-mandapa (dancing hall). The main entrance faces the eastern side which faces the sea. Konark Temple is an epitome of Kalinga architecture.

The entrance is guarded by two huge lions, each killing a war elephant and beneath the elephant is a man. While the lions represent pride, elephants represent wealth and both of them consume man akin to the conquest of spiritual power over worldly power and the symbol of ignorance conquered by knowledge.

The surfaces of the temple are carved with exquisite stone sculptures with a wide variety of subjects, including many erotic scenes based on the Kama Sutra. Erotic sculptures are found especially in niches halfway up the porch, along the sides of the platform and around the doorways of the main building.

Other sculptures decorating the temple’s exterior include deities, animals, floral patterns, voluptuous women, mythical beasts and aquatic monsters. The 24 giant wheels are beautifully carved and each of the eight spokes bears a medallion containing figurative carvings.

Originally built on sea shore, the temple is also known as black pagoda due to its dark colour and was used as a navigational landmark by ancient sailors to Odisha.


Where to Stay

If you're not staying in Puri, there are a couple of decent options in the area. The best one is Lotus Eco Resort on Ramchandi Beach, about 10 minutes away from Konark. An auto rickshaw will take you from the resort to the temple for about 250 rupees. If you'd prefer eco-friendly glamping, check out the cheaper Nature Camp Konark Retreat.


History of Konark

Konark is a small Orissan town whose major claim to fame is the reputed Sun Temple that constitutes one of the major Tourist Attractions in Konark. The history of Konark serves as a preface to your Tour to Konark. It is a brilliant way to get yourself acquainted with the place that you might be visiting for the first time.

On delving deep into the historical background of Konark, it is revealed that Konark owes its name to Konarka, the presiding deity of the Sun Temple. It would interest one to know that Konark is actually an amalgamation of two words, "Kona", meaning corner and "Arka" meaning Sun. The two when taken together, implies the sun of the corner. On leafing through the pages of Konark history, you would come to know that Konark was one of the earliest centers that practiced sun worshipping.

The earliest mention of the Konark in the history of Konark is in the Puranans when, the place used to be referred to as Mundira or Mundirasvamin. This name was later replaced by Konaditya or Konarka. One curious fact that one stumbles upon while flipping through the pages of the Puranas and other authentic religious texts is the fact that there already existed a Sun Temple at the place, way before the present temple came into being.

Konark happened to be a busy port that shared mutually beneficial trade relations with the South East Asian countries. The construction of the much renowned Sun Temple that exists now in Konark is credited to King Narashimhadev I belonging to the Ganga dynasty. The construction of this temple was the commemoration of his triumph over the Muslims. The temple later suffered the brunt of neglect and received the final blow when it was deconsecrated by the envoy of Jahangir, the Mughal Emperor.

There is more than one legend associated with the construction of the Sun Temple. According to one popular opinion, the Sun Temple was commissioned by Samba, Lord Krishna's son. Lord Krishna had cursed his son with leprosy. After undergoing a rigorous penance for twelve years, he was restored to health by the blessings of the Sun God and it was in his honor that the temple was constructed.


Watch the video: How Does Konark Temples Sun Dial Work?


Comments:

  1. Yaakov

    Definitely, the quick answer :)

  2. Avarair

    This is a very valuable piece.

  3. Vurisar

    I think you are not right. I can defend my position.



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