Konark is also known as Konaditya. The name Konark is derived form the words Kona - Corner and Arka - Sun. This temple built in 1278 CE by the Ganga King Narasimha Deva is one of the grandest temples of India and was referred to as the Black Pagoda. The ruins of this temple were excavated in late 19th century. The Konark temple is widely known not only for its architectural grandeur but also for the intricacy and profusion of sculptural work.
The entire temple has been conceived as a chariot of the sun god with 24 wheels, each about 10 feet in diameter, with a set of spokes and elaborate carvings. Seven horses drag the temple. Two lions guard the entrance, crushing elephants. A flight of steps lead to the main entrance.
The third link in the Orissan Golden Triangle, Konark, 35 km from Puri, is the site of one of the most spectacular examplesof religious architecture in the world. The glorious ruins of the Konark Temple, dedicated to God Surya, has become so renowned, even internationally, that it is now protected under UNESCO's World Heritage Site Project.
The Sun Temple conceived as a massive chariot hauling the Sun God across the heavns by mighty of 7 splendidly carved horses, standing aloft of 24 massive chariot wheels, intricately carved, symbolizing the march of time, lies on partial ruins on Konark Beach. Adjacent to the main temple lies the nata mandira or the dance hall, carved intricately with dancers and musicians in various positions of the original temple dance. Today the amphitheater of the Sun Temple at the back drop is the venue for one of the most exciting dance festivals. The Konark beach offers beautiful sunset, quiter than the Puri Beach, the waters trickier and the tides even stronger. The immense backdrop of the Sun temple looks breathtaking whe illuminated in the evening..
Legends of Konark
There are many legends of Konark that tell us a lot about the construction, existence as well as the origin and history of Konark. The story related to how Dharampada sacrificed his life in order to bring peace and harmony to his community has been narrated many a times. Dharampada, the intelligent son of Bisu Maharana did a great job in providing an appropriate solution for timely completion of the temple work.
Another Konark legend talks about how Lord Krishna’s son Samba was finally saved from the harmful effects of the curse given by his father. It was the mercy of the Sun God that eventually allowed Samba to recover from the disease of leprosy. Samba’s mind then clicked with the thought of building a temple in Mitravana to give love and respect to the Sun god. And due to this legend of Konark, Mitravana has also acquired holy significance.
In addition to the above-mentioned Konark Sun Temple legends, there is another legend associated with it. It is believed that in the proximity of the holy site of Konark Temple, there was a pool in which once a stone was dropped by King Narsimha Deva and it was galloped by the Raghab Fish. On hearing this, the goddess Dhama got disturbed. She gave a suggestion to Sivai Santra to construct a temple by dropping stones from sides. Thus, the Sun temple is believed to have been built in this manner as well.
Things to do in and Around Konark:
The Konark Sea Beach is at a distance of 2 miles from the temple. The Romantic Beach has the distinction of being considered as one of the finest beach in the world. Quiter than Puri beach, it offers beautiful sunrise and sunset. The scene charm in a seclusion has made it the “Lovers Paradise”. The Beach is especially lovely early in the morning, or when it is illuminated during the evenings.
MUSEUM : There is a small Museum outside the temple compound. Run by Archaelogical Survey of India, the Museum has an excellent collection of sculpture from the temple ruins.It remains open from 9.00 A.M. to 5.00 P.M. of Saturday to Thursday. Friday is closed. Entry is free of cost.
RAMACHANDI : To the south west of the Sun temple there is the temple of Goddess Ramachandi. There are, however, difference of opinion about the presiding deity of this temple. It has been surmised by some
KONARK MATHA : One Math (monastery) is situated in south just close to the compound wall of the Sun temple. There is no deity and only Nirakar Brahma (or void) is being worshiped in the Matha. Sunya Sadhana or the contemplation of the Eternal void is associated with the concept of Budhism. Local people identify it as ‘Samba Ashram’, place where Samba had raised his hutment for worshipping the Sun. There is a Dhuni Kund (fire place) where it is said, the fire has been reserved undiscontinued since the beginning of the Matha.
KAKATAPUR : Situated on the Prachi Valley 61 kilometers from Bhubaneswar and 45 kilometers from Konark, Kakatapur is famous for housing the shrine of Goddess Mangala and Ranadurga. Ritualistically, Goddess Mangala is related to Lord Jagannath during the Navakalebar (Renovation Ceremony). The direction for locating the holy log which forms the icon of Lord is believed to come from Her. “Jhamu Yatra”, celebrated in the month of Chaitra (April-May) is the major festival is her.
PURI : Puri, the city by the sea, is a major pilgrim centre in India. Adi Sankara founded one of the Peethas here. Puri is also famous for its golden Beach, idal for swimming and surfing. It is 35 kilometers away from Konark.
BHUBANESWAR : Bhubaneswar, 65 kilometers away from Konark and the modern capital of the state of Orissa, has been a political, religious, and cultural center for more than two millennial. It is the arrival point for most visitors to Orissa, and with its excellent hotels, headquarters Tourist Department offices, and central location, it is an excellent base for visiting other parts of Orissa, as well as an engrossing destination in its own right.
KURUMA : Eight kilometers from the world famous Sun temple at Konark, Kuruma is a small village. Recent excavations here have brought to light the reminiscence of some ancient antiquities like the image of Budha seated in Bhumisparsa Mudra along with the image of Heruka and a 17 meters long brick wall (brick size 22 cm *17 cm). Scholars are of opinion that this was once of the sites containing Budhist stupas described by Hiuen T’Sang. The place is approachable by jeep
CHAURASI : Fourteen kilometers from Kakatapur on the way to Konark one can visit the shrines of Amareswara, Laximinarayana and Barahi at Chaurasi.