Art & Craft India Travel & Hospitality

Konark Sun Temple

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 Hindu sanctuaries. The temple is attributed to king Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty about 1250 CE.

My mother wanted to offer her prayers at the famous temple of Lord Jagannath in Puri (Odisha). My dad arranged for our visit to Puri. We had one day at our disposal and we planned for a visit to Konark. I had visited this temple when I was a kid with my parents. I had a faint memory of this place. My father drove us in our car from Jamshedpur and we had a great time then.

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Konark temple is a place of admirable beauty, historical and cultural heritage and it deservingly finds a place in the World Heritage List of UNESCO. Konark Sun Temple is about 35 kilometres from Puri.

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Dedicated to the Hindu god Surya, what remains of the temple complex has the appearance of a 100-foot (30 m) high chariot with immense wheels and horses, all carved from stone.

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Like every big monument even it has a story — the temple has raised up those lovely legends which are affiliated everywhere with absolute works of art: its construction caused the mobilisation of 1,200 workers for 12 years. 

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According to the legend, it is said that mother of Narasimbadeva prayed to Surya dev (Lord Sun) and gave birth to him, so she asked Narasimha to built a temple for Surya dev at that spot. The King Narasimha ordered 1200 men to work day and night and complete the entire temple in 12 years or else they will be killed. So, they went on work staying away from home and without visiting their families. They had to face a lot of difficulties as in those times as the science and technology wasn’t so developed as it’s today. 

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They had to make sculpture out of each piece of rocks without exception. The major biggest problem was to bring the stones from Udaygiri hill and Khandagiri (the twin hills) to the place of work. They used the wooden rafts for transport. Slowly but working constantly, they completed the building in 12 years. Just two days before the completion of 12 year period, they started facing a problem that how to place a huge magnet above the building to keep it all in balance since in those time there were no cementing materials and the stones they were fixed by clamps. So the magnet would help them be in attracted and more or less fixed and tight. But they engineer could not find a way to place on the top of the monument. 

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The architect Bisu Moharana’s son came in search of his father and asked him for permission to help them to mount the magnet. Finding no other way, he gave the permission and by some means the 12-year old child did the impossible. Everyone praised him but soon the 1200 workers came into threat that if the king came to know that the temple was made with the help a 12-year old child then he might punish them. So the workers said about this to the architect and gave him two proposals either death of 1200 workers or one child. This was a very tough situation for the father. But the wise child heard everything and jumped into the Chandraprabha estuary where the the river and sea met from the top of the Konark temple and that made the whole temple unworthy of worship. When the king came to know about this he got so upset that he ordered that there will be no offerings and prayers in that temple. 

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The temple is divided into 4 parts: in the front, a stage for dancing. next a yajna mandir, next the main mandir and lastly Chhaya devi’s mandir — Chaya Devi is Surya Dev’s wife.

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The literal meaning behind the word ‘Konark’ is kon meaning angle and ark meaning light or sun rays specially in this case. This is so because the temple was made in such a way of perfection that the face of Surya dev could always be sighted from sunrise to sunset. And this was the beauty of the temple is now lost due to our misfortune because of the removal of the magnet because the huge magnet was causing problem in the navigation systems of the sailors. The building started collapsing and thus now we can only find some remains and parts of the temple. The temple was made by keeping in mind the structure of a chariot specifically Surya’s chariot. It has 12 wheels with 8 spokes defining each prahar of 24 hours with dots showing minutes and seconds.

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There are three sculptures of Lord Surya. One facing the east called early sun, next middle sun and last setting sun, with sculptures of all the three ages.

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The temple is a real beauty of art perfectly blended with a sound knowledge of mathematics and astronomy. The sculptures have everything starting from the birth to the death. The Konark temple is a real heritage of art and culture.

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