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Amazing 13th Century Konark Sun Temple of Orissa

This temple is dedicated to Surya, the sun god, as well as Lord Brahma. Located at the Konark village of Orissa in India, this temple is listed as the World Heritage site since 1984.

The History

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It is said to be built by East Ganga King Narasimhadeva in order to pride the military successes against Muslim invaders in 1250 AD. The locals believe that the power of the temple lies in the two powerful magnets built in the tower, with which the king’s throne hung in mid-air. European mariners dubbed it as the “Black Pagoda” because the magnet was so powerful that it changed the tidal patterns, according to some legends.

During the 15th century, the Muslim Yavana army sacked Konarak. The central statue of the temple was also smuggled away to Puri by priests since the temple was badly damaged to the attack. Following that, the temple has been under harsh conditions with nature destroying much of its parts. The sea receded, the sand engulfed the building and salty breezes eroded the stone. Until 20th century, it had been buried under the sand when British started restoring it. The British archaeologists found the remainings and restored what was possible of the ruins. They also planted some trees to protect it from the damaging winds.

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According to Earl of Ronaldshay, “the temple is one of the most stupendous buildings in India which rears itself aloft, a pile of overwhelming grandeur even in its decay.”

Things to see at Konark Sun Temple

There is huge chariot for the sun god Surya that has 12 pairs of stone-carved wheels and a team of seven galloping horses. But only one has survived time.

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The temple shows the passage of time through the spokes and wheels.

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The 12 pairs of wheels represent 12 months of the year, and each spoke in each wheel symbolize eight ideal stages of a woman’s day. The seven horses, on the other hand, shows days of the week.

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One of wheels of the chariot design of Konark temple. Photo by James Dugan on 500px.com

The entrance is on the east side that faces the sea, the front has Hall of Offerings, which was later added. There is a sanctuary tower in the center and a pyramidal roof. The roof has three tiers covered in statues, mostly musicians and dancers. Beyond the porch lies the statue of Surya, which has been carved of green chlorite stone, and is also a masterpiece of Konarak. The sculpture seems to be that of Surya wearing tall riding boots, along with Aruna, the charioteer at his feet.

Photo by Abhishek Jain on 500px.com

There are also many erotic scenes Kamasutra carved along the walls and porches. Apart from that, one can see deities, animals, floral patterns, voluptuous women, mythical beasts, and aquatic monsters.

How to get there

You can either take the regular bus or a jeep to Konark from Puri. It’s 33km drive and takes about an hour. The last bus leaves at 6.30 pm.

Or, you can also take an auto-rickshaw that costs for Rs. 250-300 round trip.