The Sun Temple, Konark Beach and the rich ethos and legacy make Konark one of the most popular tourist attractions of Odisha. Although one would not need any persuasion to take a trip to Konark, here are a few reasons why the Konark Sun Temple is a destination you cannot miss.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site
The 700-year-old Sun Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an architectural genius. It was built during the rule of King Narsimhadeva I (1236-1264) of the Ganga dynasty. Located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, the temple is a colossal illustration of the Sun God Surya’s chariot; its 24 wheels are adorned with emblematic designs and it is led by a horde of seven horses. Constructed in the 13th century, it is one of India’s most celebrated Brahman sanctuaries.
An Architectural Marvel
The Sun Temple is the finest example of Kalingan Temple architecture. With all its significant fundamentals, it is splendid work in both conception and realisation. The Sun Temple illustrates the chariot of Surya Dev (Sun God), with twelve pairs of wheels drawn by seven horses. It is embroidered with urbane and polished iconographical portrayals of contemporary life and activities. On the north and south sides there are 24 carved wheels, each about 3 metres in diameter, referring to the cycle of the seasons and the months. Between the wheels, the pedestal of the temple is decorated with relics of dancers, musicians, and lions. It is also connected to all the legends of its own artistic creation – the most redolent being its construction over twelve years using 1200 artisans and the stories about the deep commitment of Bisu Moharana, the master builder of the temple, in which his son who was then born, also got involved in its creation.
Rich in Mythology
The 13th-century Hindu temple is dedicated to the Sun God, Surya. In mythology, it is stated that Lord Krishna’s son, Samba was diagnosed with leprosy due to his father’s curse. The former underwent severe atonement for 12 years at Mitravana near the meeting point of Chandrabhaga River with the sea at Konark and eventually succeeded in pleasing Surya Dev who in return cured his disease. As a token of appreciation, Samba had decided to erect a temple in the honour of Surya. While bathing in the river the next day, Samba discovered an image fashioned out of Surya’s body by Lord Viswakarma. Samba installed this image in a temple built by him in Mitravana, where he appeased the Sun God. Since then, this place has been observed as sacred.
Since Mahammad Ghori’s reign, Odisha had been raided several times by the Muslims. By the middle of the 13th century, Muslims had occupied almost the whole of northern India and most parts of neighbouring Bengal. That led Narasimhadeva I, the monarch and warrior of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty of medieval Odisha to rise against them. Sultan Iltutmish passed away in 1236 A.D. and the throne of Delhi was succeeded by Nasiruddin Mahammad who appointed Tughral Tughan Khan the Governor of Bengal. What followed was a war, ordered of Tughral Tughan Khan, between the Muslim army and Narasimhadeva I, at Katasin, in 1243 A.D. The Muslims were defeated. Narasimhadeva’s victory in this war earned him immense respect from the contemporary Hindu Kings and he wanted to build a temple. He wanted the temple to represent a shrine and his Kirti-Stambha (victory-memorial).
A Great Science Behind the Floating Idol
A massive magnet weighing about 52 tons was placed at the temple top. Also, between every two stone pieces, there lies an iron plate. Due to this unique arrangement, the main idol was believed to float in air. The settlement of the temple had been lined up in a way such that the first rays of the Sun falling on the coast should pass through the Nata Mandir and would reflect from the diamond placed at the centre of this idol in the Main Sanctum. This phenomenon would last for a couple of minutes during the early morning. This magnet was the reason the entire structure tolerated the harsh conditions for centuries without being affected. However, the magnets were unfortunately taken away by the Britishers.
The Sun Temple at Konark is undeniably a must-visit destination and with plenty of hotels in Puri, a trip to Konark, your trip will be a memorable one!