Konark – Sun Temple

Konark Sun (Lord Vishnu) Temple is a 13th-century AD Sun Temple at Konark . The temple complex is in the shape of a gigantic chariot, having elaborately carved stone wheels, pillars and walls.

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Konark mean Kona (corner or angle) and Ark (the sun) and the temple is dedicated to the Sun God Surya.

  • The monument is called the Black Pagoda'(Kaala Pagoda) by the European sailors.
  • The Jagannath Temple in Puri was called the White Pagoda.

Tourist Assistance

Temple Address: Konark, Odisha 752111
Phone:06758 236 821

GOVT. OF INDIA, TOURIST OFFICE

India Tourism Bhubaneswar

B/21.B.J.B Nagar, Bhubaneswar-751014

Tel/;Fax 0674) 432203(0). 432203 R

Email. goitobhub[at]ori[dot]nic[dot]in

http://konark.nic.in/tourist_assistance.htm

Tourist Officer
Konark Tourist Office
Yatrinivas
Ph: 91-6758-236821 / 236820
TeleFAX: 236821

3-Konarak- konark-suntemple-sun-murti-british_-museumHow to reach

  • 35 km from Puri
  • 65 km from Bhubaneswar.
  • Konark is well connected.
  • Nearest Railway station, airport is Bhubhaneswar 65 km away
  • Auto rickshaws and Cycle rickshaws are available for internal transport

Architecture

The temple has been built in the form of a giant ornamented chariot of the Sun god, Surya. It has twelve pairs of elaborately carved stone wheels which are 3 meters wide and is pulled by a set of seven horses (4 on the right and 3 on the left. It is carefully oriented towards the east so that the first rays of sunrise strikes the principal entrance.4-downfall-of-konark-tenmple

The Konark temple is also known for its erotic sculptures of maithunas.

  • Two smaller ruined temples have been discovered nearby. One of them is called the Mayadevi Temple and is located southwest from the entrance of the main temple. It is presumed to have been dedicated to Mayadevi, one of the Sun god’s wives.
  • The other one belongs to some unknown Vaishnava Sculptures of Balarama, Varaha and Trivikrama have been found at the site, indicating it to be a Vaishnavite temple. Both temples have their primary idols missing.

A collection of fallen sculptures can be viewed at the Konark Archaeological Museum which is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.

  • According to the scriptures, Samba, the son of Krishna, was cursed with leprosy. He was advised by the sage, Kataka, to worship the sun god to cure his aliment. Samba underwent penance for 12 years in Mitravana near the shores of Chandrabhaga. Both the original Konark temple and the Multan temple have been attributed to Samba.

Sun Dial and Time

  • The wheels of the temple are sundials which can be used to calculate time accurately to a minute including day and night.

Aruna Stambha

In the last quarter of the 18th century, when worship had ceased in the temple, the Aruna stambha (Aruna pillar) was removed from the entrance of Konark temple and placed at the Singha-dwara (Lion’s Gate) of the Jagannath temple in Puri by a Maratha Brahmachari called Goswain (or Goswami). The pillar is made of monolithic chlorite and is 33 feet 8 inches (10.26 m) tall . It is dedicated to Aruna, the charioteer of the Sun god.

Architectural glory

The Sun Temple built in the thirteenth century was  conceived as a gigantic chariot of Sun God, with twelve pairs of exquisitely ornamented wheels pulled by seven pairs of horses. Majestic in conception, this Temple is indeed one of the most sublime monuments of India, famous as much for its imposing dimensions and faultless proportions as for the  harmonious integration of of architectural grandeur with plastic allegiance. It is admittedly the best in Orissa. Its fine traceries and scroll work , the beautiful and natural cut of animal and human figures, all give it a superiority over other temples. The chief quality is its design and architectural details. The Sun temple belongs to the Kalinga School of Indian Temples with characteristic curvilinear towers mounted by Cupolas. In shape, the Temple  did not make  any major departure from other sikhara temples of Orissa. The main sanctum which (229 ft. high) was constructed along with the  audience hall (128 ft. high) having elaborate external projections. The main sanctum which enshrined the presiding deity has fallen off. The  Audience Hall survives  in its entirely but of the other two viz the Dancing Hall(nata Mandir) and the Dining Hall (Bhoga-Mandap), only small portions have survived the vagaries of time. The Temple compound measures 857 ft. by 540 ft.

2-ratha-chakra-Chariot-wheel-of-Konark-temple

The alignment of the Sun Temple is on the east-west direction. The Temple is located in natural surroundings, abounding with casuarina plantations and other types of trees, which grow on sandy soil. The environment is by and large unspoiled. Gentle undulating topography around the Sun Temple lends some variation  to the  landscape

The area of the whole compound is about one thousand, eighty-one acres, out of which the sun temple alone occupies an area of about two hundred acres of land. The temple was built in the form of huge chariot of the Sun god fitted with 24 wheels i.e. 12 wheels in both the sides and 7 horses in front of the temple. The wheels probably represent the 12 months of a year and the horses, seven days of the week. This temple consists of a Vimana ( main temple ) intended for housing the deity, Jagamohana ( hall in front of Vimana ) from where the worshippers could have a glimpse of the deity and a Nritya-mandapa ( dancing hall ), but a separate Bhoga-mandapa (offering hall ), was not built at this place. Dancing and offering both were probably done in the same building. In Konark while the Viman (main temple) and Mukhasala (porch) are built on one platform, the Naata Mandir (Hall of Dance) is in a separate platform although on similar line.Except the Pitha (platform) the shape of the temple is similar to those at Puri and Bhubaneswar.The eastern gateway which is the main entrance to the temple compound, is decorated with Gajasimha ( lion upon an elephant ) images, with outward faces, installed on two high stone-benches are also provided at the inner sides, possibly meant for the guards to sit. A regular stone pavement has been discovered within the passage, which is about 3 feet ( 0.91 metre ) lower than that of the stone around the main temple. It is therefore, not likely that the original level of the temple compound was same, as that of the said pavement.

The  main temple is a rekha deul (also called as Viman) characterized by a curvilinear tower, while the frontal porch, which is called as Mukhasala or Jagamohana, where the devotees assemble, is a pidha deul, the roof of which is made of pidhas or horizontal stages. Both main temple and porch are square internally. But the exterior parts are broken by five small projections to produce an effect of light and shade on the surface and also to create an impression of one continuous vertical line called Rekha. In the Orissan architecture this type of temple is known as Pancharath-Rekha deul. The central projection is called as raha, while next two, both on one plane but projecting forward beyond the extreme ends, called kanika or kanika-paga and anuratha. These projections are carried up to the base of the crowning elements. Besides these major projections, there are numerous inconspicuous offsets and recesses.
Both the sanctuary and the porch are divided into four broad parts
along the vertical plane, namely pitha (platform), bada (vertical wall), gandi (‘trunk of a body’; the curvilinear tower in the case of a rekha deul and the pyramidal roof in the case of a pidha deul) and mastaka (‘head’; crowning elements). While the mastaka is circular in cross-section, the bada and gandi are square internally in horizontal sections. Three of the four divisions again are composed of several elements. All these components are in perfect symphony with one another and combine harmoniously in a masterly architectural conception as a whole. Some of these elements are named after human limbs. It has been suggested on the basis of these terms that the temple was linked to the human body. The rekha deul has sometimes been conceived by the Orissan architecture as a male temple and the Jagamohana as a female.
Up to the top of the Bada there is a hardly any difference between the sanctuary and the porch except in the matter of relative proportions, but with the gandi they assume their individuality. Both the Badas are thus composed of five components, namely, pabhaga (‘foot’) consisting of a set of five broad mouldings at the base, tala jangha (‘lower shin’), bandhana (‘bond’; a set of mouldings which divides jangha into two, tala and upara), upara jangha (‘upper shin’) and veranda, again a set of mouldings, numbering ten in the porch.
The  roof of the porch is in the form of a stepped pyramid truncated near the top and is made up of pidhas, arranged into three tiers, called patalas, separated from one another by a recessed vertical wall called kanthi or kanti. Over the roof is the mastaka, which is a succession of a beki or beka (‘neck’), sri (ribbed bellshaped member) or ghanta, amla-beki, amla (gadrooned or fluted oblate spheroid resembling an amalak fruit), khapuri (‘skull’ ; flattish bell-shaped member), kalasa (‘water-pot’) and ayudha (sacred weapon or emblem), the last two now missing. The crowning elements are arranged effectively in such a way that they complete the shape of the truncated pyramid.

The Platform

The main temple along with the Mukhasala of the Sun temple are built in the form of a chariot on a platform (Pitha). The height of this platform from the ground is 16′.6” (5.029 m.). It is divided into some division or parts. The first part just on the ground level is of one feet in height . In this part a panel of elephants numberings about 2000 has been carved out. Besides one can see the marching of royal armies, hunting pictures, palanquin with their bearers. On the platform (pitha) the wheels stand and above the wheels there is another upper pitha having similar architecture as in the lower part of the pitha.

Wheels And Horse

The Sun temple, as stated earlier, was constructed as a chariot of the Sun. Twenty-four wheels and seven horses have been affixed on the platform. 12 wheels on both sides of the main temple, 8 wheels on the sides of Mukhasala and 4 wheels on the both sides of the flight of steps of the eastern front. The diameter of each of these wheels is about nine feet ( 2.73 meters ) and each of them has a set of eight thick and eight thin spokes, dividing the day into eight equal parts. They are elaborately carved all over. The thicker ones are all carved with circular medallions at their centers on the widest part of the face. The axles of the wheels project by about one foot from the surface, having similar decorations at their ends. The rims are carved with designs of foliages with various luxurious poses, mostly of exotic nature. These wheels may also possibly represent the twelve Zodiacs. The entire wheel is full of fine art works. The seven spirited horses seems as if they are speeding the chariot through the heaven. Those seven horses, have been named in Bhagabat Gita as ‘Gayatri’ ,’Ushika’ ,’Anustuv’ ,’Vrihati’, ‘Pangti’ , ‘Tristup’ and ‘Jagati’, which possibly stand for the rhythmic representation of the secret verses of the vedas.

Mythologically the Sun god moves in the sky with his chariot. The chariot of the Sun god has only one wheel and drawn by 7 horses. Since building a huge temple on a single wheel is not at all possible on the earth the artisans of Konark made the number of wheels as 24. This 24 wheels signify 24 hours of the day and the 7 horses stand for 7 days of a week. Some also say that this 24 wheels stand for 24 fortnights of the year and 7 horses represent 7 colours of the Sun ray. The 8 spokes in the wheel symbolize 8 Praharas of the day and the entire wheel has been worked out as a Sun-clock to know time according to the position of the Sun during the day time. All the wheels are decorated with scroll-work, floral motifs creepers and beaded strings, besides figures of various gods and goddesses

FAME OF THE SUN TEMPLE

Sculptures

JAGAMOHANA (Porch) (Mukhasala)

The Jagamohana(Porch) or the Mukhasala is the  audience hall of the Sun Temple.

Height: Now it is estimated that the present height of the Mukhasala is 130 feet. The upper portion consisting of Kalasa and Khwajapadma has been broken. And this broken portion is stated to be of 20 feet in height. So the original height of the Mukhasala was about 150 feet (45 meters

TheMainTemple       (Viman)

The main temple has been completely collapsed leaving its broken walls of 227 feet (64 m) high. They are found to be of 20 to 25 feet thick. Since the main temple has been crumbled down, now it is difficult to give a correct and detailed account of it.

Height: Since the temple has been broken it is not possible to measure its height. But according to various estimation its height was of about 230 feet (70 meters). Generally according to Silpa Sastra, the height of the wall of the main temple is 13/3 times of the lower pitha (platform). Similarly the height of the Rekha is double than the wall

Surya murti

Prabhat Surya

As the plan of the temple slightly makes an angle with the cardinal directions, the image of the south, is flooded with rays of morning-sun and is therefore significant for its expression of youth and activity, justifying the description of Prabhat-Surya (morning sun). It is decorated with typical set of ornaments on the arms, neck and in the ears. The head-dress is also typical. The waist-band is provided with tassels hanging down from it. This is called avyana (waist band), The drapery, reaching upto the knee, is wonderfully carved. The hands of the statue holds  two full bloomed lotuses, one of which still exists, above the right hand of the figure. The bottom of the pedestal is decorated with figures of women in various poses.

Some are playing on musical instruments and some are in dancing poses. It is also decorated with the figures of seven horses driven by Aruna, the charioteer of Surya, sitting near the feet of the statue with the reins of the horses in his hands. The King and the Queen are sitting on the pedestal with folded hands and the work is lying nearby . In the panel two standing figures of male in their hands. His four wives:- Rajani, Rikshubha, Chayya and Suvarsasa are seen just above the two attendants. Brahma and Vishnu are sitting at a little higher levell. At the top most corners of the panel, Vidyadharas are seen offering garlands of flowers from the heaven. The figures of Kirthi-mukha (lion-face) is also carved at the center, from the mouth of which chains of pearl beads are coming out. The artistic traditions of Guptas present here, make one feel that the beauty of the Gupta art was still alive in the minds of the Konark sculptors.

Madhyanna Surya

The figures in the western side may be taken as Midhyanna-Surya (midday-sun), standing with full vigor and personality. Decoration of the panel ornaments and drapery  used, the presence of King and Queen, the seven horses and the figure of Aruna are almost similar to the Prabhata-Surya (morning-sun), who also wears upnat (boot). Some describe the sun with Upanat pinaddha-padayugalam (wearing boots in his both legs) .

Astachala Surya

The third figure on the northern wall is the Astachala-Surya (setting-sun) the figure brings out beautifully the tired express ion which is the result of a hard days work, while the other horses are completely tired, he is anyhow completing his journey by riding on the back of the last horse who is also found to be stopping with its folded legs.

Of these three, the image of southern side is comparatively in good condition while the other two have been broken to a greater extent. The height of the Sun god in southern side is 8′.3” (2.514 m.) while that of western side is 9′.6” (2.895 m.). The height of the entire sculptures of northern side is 3.58 m. For these three side gods there are three side temples on three sides of the main temple which have also been collapsed along with the main temple.

As described by some scholars there were 4 statues of big lions each rampant on an elephant, had been projected on the higher parts of the temple wall just above the height of the porch in four directions. Among them the eastern one was largest of all which is now found lying in the compound in three pieces. The local guides call it as Flying Lion.

Beauty of Carvings

The Konark temple with its beautiful carvings in abundance and symmetry of design is rightly regard as one of the best specimens of Human skill and genius in the field of art and architecture. These arts of Konark can be broadly categorized as Decorative, social, religious, conventional and erotic. There are life-like figures of various kinds. On the three sides there are the images of the Sun god on niches. These images are superb works of art. Tools as fine as needless were used for chiseling out such works in all delicacy and accuracy.

There are numerous figures of amorous couple on the temple walls. Liberal representation of such erotic figures was a fashion of the age. Not only in Hindu temple, but also in Jain and Budhist monuments such erotic sculptures were being used in decorating the monuments. It is believed that erotic sculptures are helpful in warding off the anger of natural calamities. It is also said that these erotic figures are regarded as specimens of perverse taste. It is also described that the obscene sculptures were meant to rouse in the minds of the visitors, a sense of what is sensual, therefore, avoidable and a sense of what is spiritual therefore desirable, before he was entitled to worship the god

Eroticism is a theme that lavishly occupies almost all segments of the Konark temple. The life size amorous couple, the lascivious Sadhus, the perfect female figures in seductive poses and their bewitching smiles have made Konark a sumptuous feast for the eyes of the visitors. The delight of the flesh in abundance mixed with the bluish supermundane, Konark ranks unrivalled in the domain of romantic art

From peace and agriculture, to war and struggle, men , women and children- an almost endless variety of animals are carved in this temple. The spell of this endless rhapsody of sculptures is so great that the visitor is unable to view the work with a critical eye. Replete with erotic and amorous figures the monument as it is, brings a sensuous beauty and celestial sublimity to happy union.

Konark, is, indeed, a magnificent lyrical epic in stone, narrating the uninhibited joys of love and victory, dedicated to the Master of life, the Sun. Konark is truly a living testimony to speculative, daring and artistic sensibility of the race that one knew how to live, love, worship and create in heroic preparations.

During its life time Konark had won prominence all over the country and many dignitaries like Sri Chaitanya, the Great Vaishnava saint visited the place.

Now Black Pagoda, Konark, preserved by Government of India, stands as a shinning monument of medieval Orissan architecture and is one of the most outstanding architectures of artistic skill. The delight of the flesh in abundance mixed with the bluish superabundance Konark ranks unrivalled in the domain of romantic art. No nicer dream can be dreamt and no better execution than it can be carved out in ivory like precision of hard grained chlorite. As has been rightly described- “Konark is a living testimony to the speculative, daring and the artistic sensibility of a race that once knew how to live, love, worship and create in heroic proportions”. Though Konark is now in a state of ruin, still the magnificence of its architecture draws more foreign tourists than any other place in Orissa

ART AND CRAFTS

The local market in Konark has a variety of exquisite handicrafts. Pata
paintings, stone carvings, terracotta, papiermache, lacquer ware, paddy corn-
crafts, bamboo articles as well as hand woven textiles and fabrics can be
picked up. Among all these articles stone carvings and appique work of Piple
(43 kilometers from Konark) are more popular

Carvings

Applique Work 

Konark is not only an ideal choice for monument, beach and scenic beauties but also for her colourful festivals. The Konark Festival held every year is a great attraction for cultural connoisseurs.

The most popular and colourful festival of Konark, an occasion for a grand congregation of Indian pilgrims and enthusiasts from abroad, falls on the seventh day of the new moon of Magha

Chandrabhaga Mela

Magha Saptami which is also called Chandrabhaga Mela is the most popular festival which fall in the month of February. This is a day specially set aside for the worship of the Sun God at Konark.Although the temple is a ruin, even today thousands of pilgrims flock to Konark every year on the Magha Sukla Saptami, the day of Spring Festivals, to celebrate the new birth of the Sun God. When the Sun has returned on its northern course, they assemble before sunrise to take bathe in the sacred Chandrabhaga river and in the nearby sea. When on that day the Sun God emerges from the ocean in the Agni Kona, the south eastern corner of the horizon, they adore and worship him with silent prayers or yells of joy, and many in their ecstasy imagine they actually see him rising from the water in his luminous chariot drawn by seven fiery horses. After that they walk one and a half miles to the temple to circumambulate the shrine and to worship the Navagraha stone which originally was above the eastern portal and is now set up in a small shed outside the compound. When their religious duties are performed, they pass the rest of the day in cooking, eating and merrymaking and by nightfall they have all dispersed to their homeward journey. Some of these people come on foot from distant place and eventually spend a whole month on the road before reaching their destination. This shows how great is their faith and their love for the Sun God, and how strong are latent memories of ancient traditions.

This is the most popular and colourful festival of the place when lakhs of pilgrims visit Konark to observe the festival. In fact this is the second biggest festival in Orissa, next to Car Festival of Puri

Konark Dance Festival

Another colourful festival is the Konark Dance Festival. This is a festival of classical dance. It is held from 1st to 5th December every year in the amphitheater. It is a most exciting dance events of the country. The festival has assumed a kind of distinctive significance and importance for the timely efforts it has made to wards the revival, preservation and continuation of unique temple dance tradition of Orissa. The festive nights serve the essential purpose of highlighting an important facet of Indian’s composite culture and offers the audience a lavish feast for the eyes and ears.. As a tribute to the majestic monument, eminent classical dancers of India get together every year during this dance festival to present live performance. The dance is performed on the Open Air Auditorium set amidst the casuarinas grave with the Sun Temple, a World Heritage Monument, at the back drop.

When the sun sets in the horizon and the stars appear in the sky, the open-air-auditorium reverberates with the beats of Raga and Tala to fill the air. The classical extravaganza a journey through eternal ecstasy. The stage for the New Millennium Fete is all set to glow in pristine glory of much admired Odissi, Bharat Natyam, Manipuri, Kathak and Chhow Dance- a lavish feast for the eyes and ears

Navagraha

The Sun temple also has a huge Navagraha slab richly ornamented, placed over the front door of the Mukhasala (Jagamohan), at a height of about 18 feet. This huge stone made up of chlorite had 19′.10” (6.045 m) length, 4′.9” (1.45 m) breadth and 3′.9” (1.43 m) height. Originally it weighted 26.27 tons.

In carving out the images their attributes are not correctly attended to. They are made mostly alike in form, except a few in the group. Most of them are holding rosary and Kamandalu in their hands, wearing high pointed crowns and sitting on lotuses, whereas the descriptions in the Puranas symbolize as follows:

Surya (Sun) stands on vehicle of seven horses and holds two lotuses in his both hands.

Chandra (Moon) rides in a swan and carries discs of moon in his left and right hands.

Mangala (Mars) being the warlords, holds a Kattara (Cutter) in his right hand and in the left, several human heads, in the act of devouring. His vehicle is a goat.

Budha (Mercury) sits on a lotus and he is to hold in his two hands the bow and arrow.

Vrihaspati (Jupitor) being the high priest of Devatas (god), has a flowing beard and holds a rosary and Kamandalu in his two hands, but he has to be seated either on a frog or on a skull, instead of lotus.

Sukra (Venus) is said to be the priest of the Ashuras (demons). Excepting the blindness of one eye, his iron is more or less correctly shown.

Sani (Saturn) rides on a tortoise and holds a rod in his hand, instead of sitting on a lotus.

Rahu (Ascending god) has only the upper half of the body. Two of his canine teeth are projecting from the upper jaw, to represent him as a monster and a fierce aspect of the sun and the moon. He is found holding the sun in one hand and the moon on the other hand.

Ketu (Descending node) is the last one in the group. His upper part is similar to others, but the lower is formed of the body of a serpent coiling round. He is to hold the noose of the snake of one hand and with the other, a sword.

On each and every Sankrati and Saturday many people gather at Konark to worship the Navagraha to offer Bhoga and perform Homa.

Fall of Konark

In the course of time, Konark along with its temples and sacred spots have lost their glories.

The various speculations made as to the possible cause of the fall of this magnificent temple are given below.

  • Incomplete Temple
  • Insanctity
  • Curse Of Sumanyu
  • Engineering Defects
  • Hasty Completion Of The Temple

Other interesting places in Konark

Sea Beach – 2km
Museum –
houses collections of great carved images, broken images as well of worth preserving.
Ramchandi
Vishnu temple
Astaranga – 91 km from Puri
Konark Matha
Belesore –
Balasore port is 214 kilometers away from Bhubaneswar
Balighai
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
Pipli – 45 km from KonarkPuri – 8km from 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 – 65 km from Konark
Kuruma – 8km
Chaurasi –
Fourteen kilometers from Kakatapur on the way to Konark one can visit the shrines of Amareswara, Laximinarayana and Barahi at Chaurasi.

Balidokan                                   10 km

Bhagabati                                   1.5 km

Beleswar                                    23 km

Since the entire Konark area is surrounded with lush forest growth, there are many spots which can be  a venue for picnic at the choice of the visitors

RAMACHANDI

To the south west of the Sun temple there is the temple of Goddess. It has been surmised by some that this was the temple of Mayadevi, wife of Surya (Sun god) while others opine that it was the earlier Sun temple in which Sun was being worshipped

God of sun is giver of good health, pray for God sun,

Do Surya namaskarams daily and have some sunshine also daily.

More info on Arasavilli Sun god temple

More info on Vishnu temples.

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