Located on the sea-shore at a distance of 33 kms from Puri and about 64 kms from Bhubaneswar, Konark is also known as Konaditya. The name Konark has been derived from the words Kona and Arka, meaning corner of the sun. This 13th century Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu Sun God. The spectacular structure got listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1984. Constructed in a shape of a giant chariot, the temple is known for the exquisite stone carvings. The structure is the recreation of the indispensable role of Sun in everyone’s lives. The rare construction and artwork belongs to the Kalinga School of Temple Architecture. Ravaged by time, the temple complex now lies in ruins but its magnificence still shines through.
Konark is best known for the Sun temple dedicated to the Sun God. The temple was constructed in the mid thirteenth century by Raja Narasinghs Deva-I of the Ganga Dynasty. It is a testament to the artistic glory of the time. The temple is structured in the form of a huge chariot for the Hindu Sun God. The chariot is constructed with 12 pairs of stone-carved wheels and a team of seven galloping horses (only one of which survives). The temple symbolizes the passage of time. The seven horses, which pull the sun temple eastwards towards the dawn, represent the days of the week. The 12 pairs of wheels represent the 12 months of the year and the eight spokes in each wheel symbolize the eight stages of a day.
The awe-inspiring shrine containing a statue of Surya, the Sun God and also the charioteer, Arun. The beautiful image is carved of high-quality green chlorite stone and is one of the masterpieces of Konarak.
The 24 giant wheels are exquisitely carved and each of the eight spokes bears a medallion containing figurative carvings. The temple's exteriors are adorned with sculptures of mythical deities, divinely beautiful women (apsaras), animals, floral patterns, beasts and aquatic monsters. Temple is also carved with the sculptures of musicians and dancers as well as erotic scenes similar to the carvings of Khajuraho. The Shiva Nataraja sculpture performing the cosmic dance is another brilliance.
Another temple resembling the Sun temple is Melakkadambur Shiva temple. This temple too is in the form of a chariot and is one of the oldest temples of Konark. Built during the period 1075-1120 by Kulottunga Chola I, this temple is believed to have set the pace for other chariot temples in India.
The archaeological museum at Konark has a good collection of the various pieces of loose sculptures from the remnants of the Sun temple complex. The gallery contains a number of antiquities which are displayed in 4 different galleries. The antiquities include various sculptures, paintings, manuscripts and various fallen of parts from the Konark Sun Temple.
The Konark city is also known world over for its fairs and festivals. The Konark Dance Festival held here comes as a true rejuvenator of the ancient classical dance forms like Odissi, Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi and the local Chhau dance. Another festivity observed with a great fanfare at Konark is the Magha Saptami Mela held on the banks of Chandrabhaga River. Millions of devotees gather here to take a holy dip in this river on the occasion as this dip is believed to be a sure cure for all illnesses.
Best time to visit
July - April