Konark Sun temple:
Timings: 6 am to 6 pm on all days. It is open on all seven days.
Address: Konark Sun Temple, Konark, Puri District, Odisha
Konark Sun Temple was declared as UNESCO World Heritage site in the year 1984 is a very important Indian monument. It is located at the Konark which is 35 Km Northeast from Puri on the coastline of Odisha India. The temple is dedicated to Sun god Surya. The name Konark is derived from a Sanskrit word Kona which means corner and Arka means Sun god.
It is believed to have been built in the 13th century by king NarasimhaDeva I of Eastern Ganga Dynasty. Much of the temple is in ruins except the 100 ft high chariot with wheels and horses all of it are carved from stone. The temple is also known as Surya Devalaya and is a classic example of Odisha Architecture.
The temple is famous for its Odisha style of architecture or Kalinga architecture. It is oriented in such a way that the first rays of the sun fall on the main temple. The wheels of the temple are used as sundials which are used to calculate the time accurately up to a minute. The different kinds of stone that were used are Chlorite, laterite and kondalite. Kondalite is used all over the monument while laterite was used core of platform and staircases and Chlorite was used for door intel.
It is believed by kondalite weathers faster as compared to others hence it may have caused erosion and damage to the monument. As none of these stones were available near the place of construction these stones were bought from very far off places by using wooden wheels, and pulleys. The finishing of the monument was so nice that the joints could not be seen.
Other than the dancing Hall and dining Hall most of the structures are in ruins now. Since the temple is divided into five projections it is called as pancha rathas. The temple consisted of Vimana, Jagamohana and Natamandira. The walls of Jagamohana are as high as 100 ft. Jagamohana had three doors each attached with steps . Both the main temple and Jagamohana differ in sizes, themes and design.
On both sides of the main temple is the Nata mandira. It is also known as a dance temple on a high carved platform. The original structure of the temple had a Aruna stambha between the main temple and Nata mandira. Nata Mandira is built on a very high plinth. The pillars and walls are very heavily carved with different dancing poses.
The construction of the temple almost took 12 years and needed close to 12000 artisans.
The original temple had 230 ft high sanctum which is no longer present in the temple. The temple consists of 24 intricately designed stone wheels which are pulled by seven horses. The size of the wheel is 9 feet 9 inches in diameter. There are various theories on the significance of the Wheel According to some, seven horses represent the week and the wheels stand for 12 months while the eight spokes in the wheels represent the day cycle.
Some also say that the 12 pairs of wheels represent the 12 zodiac signs. Some call it as the Dharmachakra of the Buddhists.The walls of the temple are beautifully designed with intricate carvings of Hindu god and goddess. Out of the 24 Wheels, 6 are on either side of the main temple, 4 wheels are on each side of the Mukhasala and 2 wheels are on the steps at eastern front. The Wheel is the major attraction in the temple.
The Konark Wheel has 8 wider spokes and 8 thinner spokes and the distance between each wider spoke is 3 hours and the distance between two thinner spokes is 1.5 hrs. There are beads between wider spoke and thinner spoke and each bead represents 3 minutes.
The temple is famous for its beautiful sculptures all around. Some of the important include Hindu deities, male and female musicians, images of people from daily life, plants, various animals and birds and many more.
An idol of Surya in the Southern niche is very different as this is the one of the few sculptures in India where God is wearing a shoe. It is depicted on a chariot which is pulled by seven horses. The same idol is also shown wearing a lower garment.
The basement of the temple is beautifully decorated with thousands of elephants in different poses. The middle row in the temple is sculpted with different figurines of lions on an elephant, Nagamithunas, male and female figures.
The giant Lion Crushing the elephant sculpture that one can see at the entrance stairs of the temple. Some of the Hindu deities one can see are Vishnu, Shiva, Gajalakshmi and Narasimha with other gods and goddesses. The temple is known for some of the erotic sculptures known as maithunas. These erotic sculptures are found on the Shikara of the temple.
The temple has many subsidiary monuments.
Mayadevi temple: It was discovered during the excavation around 1900. It is a temple dedicated to Mayadevi who is Surya’s wife. The temple has many carvings all around and has a square mandapa. Some of the other deities include the damaged Surya holding lotus, Vayu,Agni, Vishnu, Vayu and the sanctum holds Nataraja.
Vaishnava devi temple: It is located to the southwest of Mayadevi temple. It was excavated in 1956. It is a very small temple with sculptures of Balrama, Varaha, Vamana, trivikrama at the sanctum even though the main deity is missing from the sanctum.
Other than these temples there is a kitchen and well 1 and well 2.
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