Visiting Konark Sun Temple, India.
About Konark Sun Temple - The Black Pagoda - Konark, Odisha (Orissa) in India.
Konark is around 35kms via the NH203 from Puri
and is 80kms (via the SH60) or 65kms (via the SH13) from Bhubaneshwar - the latter is also where the nearest airport to Konark is located.
Entrance to the Konark Sun Temple costs 250 rupees for non-Indians and of course as with most such sites in India it's virtually free for Indians
- however children under 15 can go in free apparently.
The Sun Temple is open every day from sunrise to sunset. The area around Konark Sun Temple (which is also known as the
Black Pagoda) is within quite nice grounds with plenty of grass areas as well as a plentiful amount of trees growing which offers some useful shade.
The large and impressive Konark Hindu Sun Temple was constructed during the reign of King Narasimha Dev (Eastern Ganga Dynasty) around 1250 A.D. to enshrine the image of Arka (Surya or Sun God) who is the patron deity of the temple. Aligned in an East-West direction and designed to look like a huge chariot with it's twelve sets of beautifully carved wheels, the
"chariot" was originally pulled by seven boisterous horses.[ Click the thumbnails for a larger picture - use the back button to return to this page. ]
Apart from the profusion of carvings and sometimes explicit carvings which adorn the Sun Temple one of the features has to be the massive carved wheels carved into the base of the structure. The wheels vary in condition from excellent to being somewhat worn due to weathering - each wheel has different
carvings and behind the wheels there are many more carvings. The chariot wheel's spokes are aligned to the cardinal points and also act as sundials as they do reflect the correct time of day. Just below the wheels and going right round most of the temple there are 100s of miniature carvings of war elephants - above the wheels were presumably more miniature elephant carvings but many of these have since "disappeared".
The Temple entrance is guarded by two huge simha gajas with each of the lions shown to be crushing a war elephant. Parts of Konark Sun Temple have now collapsed - notably the original pyramid-shaped roof-tower (vimana) however the mandapa (outer pavilion) and jagamohana (assembly hall) are in a somewhat better
condition - though there is plenty of external bamboo scaffolding holding these up.
The lower walls of the temple are heavily carved with divine and semi divine animal and human sculptures with floral backgrounds. The variety of dancers, kanyas (Indian astrological signs) and other sculptures have sometimes been carved in a typically quite explicit way. They are very similar in their depictions to the many carvings which can be seen at
the Khajuraho Jain Temples
site (Madhya Pradesh). However the condition of Konark's sculptures is far more worn (probably due to the proximity of the Bay of Bengal) compared with those to be seen at Khajuraho and because Konark Sun Temple fell into misuse and finally abandoned during the mid 1700s and soon became inundated with heavy foliage and sand. Interestingly
the temple is also known as the Black Pagoda - so-named by sailors passing by the coast who used the visible black mandap as a navigation aid. The Temple area was gradually
recovered during the early 1900s and in 1984 was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Situated in a grassy area just a little to the southwest of the main Sun Temple are the ruins of
Mayadevi Temple - this temple also has various carvings around it's remains which are quite interesting to look at. Generally around the Sun Temple area a variety of reclaimed temple insets as well as some statues such as of war elephants and mythical beasts have been
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