Konark Sun Temple, usually known as Konark is an Architecture Marvel of the Eastern India. It is located in Odisha, India and is one of the prominent tourist attractions. Konark consists of a huge temple devoted to the Sun God.
Konark Sun Temple History and Facts
The word Konark is a union of two words known as ‘Kona’ and ‘Arka’.The word ‘kona’ implies ‘Corner’ and the word ‘Arka’ implies ‘Sun’, thus when joined it becomes ‘Sun of the Corner’. This Konark Sun Temple is located on the north eastern corner of Puri. The other name for Konark is Arka Khetra.
At 3 different sides of the temple, there are 3 images of the sun God. These are placed in proper direction to catch the sun rays in the morning, afternoon and evening. The Konark Sun Temple, constructed in the mid 13th century, is a huge conception of engineering dexterity and artistic magnificence.
Konark Sun Temple History
This temple was built by Narasimhadeva 1, the eminent ruler of Ganga dynasty. Within a span of 12 years (1243-1255 A.D.), he built this temple by taking the help of 1200 artisans. As the king used to worship the Sun God, this Konark Sun Temple has been regarded as the Sun God’s chariot.
The Greatness of the Konark Sun Temple
- The Konark Sun Temple was designed in the form of a beautifully decorated chariot and it was mounted on 24 wheels.
- The diameter of each wheel was about 10 feet and it was drawn by seven ferocious horses. It is extremely difficult to understand how this gorgeous temple, every inch of it carved beautifully, could have been finished within such a sport span.
- Even the Konark Sun Temple is in its ruined state today, it is still a great wonder on earth. The eminent poet Rabindranath Tagore had written about Konark: “here the language of stone surpasses the language of man”.
Konark Sun Temple Architecture
- The Konark Sun Temple was earlier constructed on the sea bank but now the sea has been receded and the temple is somewhat away from the beach.
- The temple was also named as ‘BLACK PAGODA’ because of its dark color and has been used as a navigational landmark by the ancient sailors to Odisha.
- The Sun’s rays would reach the Nata Mandir everyday from the coast and reflects from the diamond that has been placed at the center of the idol.
- At the top of the temple, a heavy magnet has been placed and every 2 stones of the temple were sandwiched by the iron plates. Due to the disposition of magnets, the idol was said to have been floating in air.
- The magnet that had been placed at the top is said to be having disturbed compasses for the purpose of voyagers and were removed later on.
- Around the temple’s base, there are images of warriors on horses, foliage, animals and other fabulous structures. On the roof and walls of the temple, the alluring erotic figures are carved.
- The Konark Sun Temple is a masterpiece of the medieval architecture of Orissa. Not only for its architectural greatness, the Konark Sun Temple is also known for its abundance and sophistication of sculptural work.
- The Konark Sun Temple is an extraordinary union of the salient natural beauty, exotic beach, heritage and architecture of this marvelous temple.
Konark Sun Temple Sculptures
- Another interesting fact is that the huge structure of the Konark temple that is visible today is actually the main temple’s entrance.
- The main temple that enshrined the presiding deity has fallen off. This main temple’s remains can be seen there. Even in this ruined state, this is a beautiful temple that reflects the skill of the architects.
- The architectural figures that made the temple very famous, were buried entirely under the sands and debris till the first half of 19th century.
- The existence of these gorgeous Sun God simhasana, elephants, horses, wheels and lions being unknown to many people, those who visited in these days couldn’t even experience half of its charm.
- This desired temple of Narasimhadeva was constructed in the form of a large Ratha (chariot).
- It consists of 12 pairs of wheels beautifully carved out in the southern and northern sides of plinth masonry and drawn by a group of 7 dynamic horses rushing as if through the heaven.
Royal Guard of Konark Sun Temple – Lion Upon Elephant Upon Man
The temple compound’s major entrance is the eastern gateway. It is well-decorated with the images of Gajasimha (Lion upon an elephant), with faces outwards and installed on two high stone-benches on both sides of the passage. at the inner sides, Two high staone benches are also provided that were meant for the guards to sit.
Great Wheel of Konark Sun Temple
- The wheels of the chariot are symbolic and were interpreted as the ‘Wheel of Life’. They depict the achievement of realization, preservation and cycle of creation.
- The diameter of each wheel is 9 (2.73 meters) feet and every wheel has a set eight equal parts. They are carved all over elaborately.
- With their centers on the broadest part of the face, the thicker ones are all carved with circular medallions.
- From the surface, the wheels’ axles project by around 1 foot and have indistinguishable decorations at their ends.
- The drawings of foliage are carved along the rims with numerous animals, and the medallions in the spokes are carved with the figures of women in different luxurious poses, primarily of erotic nature. These wheels may perhaps represent the 12 Zodiacs.
1000 Years Old Sundial at Konark Sun Temple
War Horse of Konark Sun Temple
The 7 horses that have been named in Bhagawat Gita as ‘Jagati’, ‘Tristup’, ‘Pangti’, ‘Vrihati’, ‘Anustuv’, ‘Usnika’ and ‘Gyatri’ stand for the rhythmic representation of the sacred verses of the Vedas.
Elephants of Konark Sun Temple
The statues of elephants which had stood originally on the side walls of flights of the steps at southern and northern sides of Jagamohana, were discovered in the middle of the confused mass of debris. However, facing the main temple, they are installed in the masonry platforms nearer to compound walls but, in fact, they may be facing outwards to welcome the people who are coming inside.
Simhasana (Seat) of the Presiding Deity at Konark Sun Temple
- The Simhasana, which is the place for the presiding deity is built with chlorite stone (a type of volcanic rock) and carved beautifully all over. Within the sanctum, it is still in existence.
- The sides and base of the simhasana are decorated with daily life scenes like women carrying musical instruments, offerings and standing in groups, enclosing rows of elephants and beaded borders.
- The Queen and King are visible sitting in front. The room’s floor is paved with chlorite slabs.
- Though the presiding deity is missing from the place, there are no suspicion that the Sun-God’s image who actually occupied the Simhasana, ruling over the countless devotees who had worshipped for over 400 years with all the glory and pomp, which follows the virtuals of worship traditionally.
- Otherwise, the gorgeous pedestal and the smaller one above it wouldn’t have existed. On the pedestal, a semicircular channel was also provided for the easy flow of water from the body of the image.
Why Sun God is not worshiped at the Konark Sun Temple?
- The Sun God was never worshipped in this beautiful temple of him. There is a story behind this. As stated earlier in this article, in the 13th century A.D, for 12 years, 1200 workers have worked so hard to build this temple.
- For building this temple, they bought the stone from the hills of Udaygiri and Khandgiri which are about 100 kms away from Konark.
- The entire structure of this engineering masterpiece was built with stone and they were interlocked by metals. Huge magnet holds the entire metal skeleton which was around 5 tons in weight.
- The complete structure is about a height of 127 feet but the main temple was about 227 feet high.
- For the completion of the temple, king Narasimhadeva 1 had given a deadline and if the workers failed to complete the construction, they would all be beheaded.
- The temple was completed in stipulated time except for DADHINAUTI (the crown stone). There was a problem occurring when the workers were trying to install it but it fell down every time they tried to do so.
- BISU MAHARANA, the chief architect went into depression on the second last day of the deadline as he realised that the King would kill everyone of them as the construction was not completed and 1200 families would be destroyed in a day.
Konark Sun Temple Magnet
- Suddenly, he had seen a young boy named DHARMPADA, who came in search of him. He came and told BISU MAHARANA that he was his son.
- All this while, Maharana had never seen his son since his son’s age was 12 years and he was there busy in the temple’s work.
- He was extremely happy after seeing his son but told him that he, along with all the workers was going to get killed as they failed to build the temple in time. To the surprise of everyone, the boy went ahead and installed the DADHINAUTI.
- The major problem was solved but everyone present there started discussing that if the king comes to know about this boy installed the DADHINAUTI, the king would kill all of them.
- At that night, DHARMPADA sacrificed his life by jumping into the Chandrabhaga river from the temple’s top and saved all these 1200 workers from getting beheaded.
- As the temple became unholy with DHARMPADA’s death, the Sun God was never worshiped there.
- Myth says that DHARMPADA was Sun God’s Avatar who had come to destroy the King’s ego who was in the illusion that every human being with money and power thinks “HE IS IN CONTROL” of everything that is around him.