Konark

The crowning glory of Oriya temple architecture, the 13th century Sun temple also known as ' the Black Pagoda', comes with a baggage of centuries - old myths and legends. Legends say that Samba, the son of Lord Krishna, was afflicted by leprosy, brought about by his father's curse on him. After 12 years of penance, he was cured by Surya, the Sun God, in whose honour he built this temple.

The Sun Temple

The Sun Temple

Built by Raja Narsimhadeva of the Ganga dynasty, in the 13th century AD, the temple is a pageant of human grandeur, in its perception, and in the execution of even the finest details. It resembles a colossal chariot, with 24 wheels, pulled by seven straining horses, and has a three-tiered pyramidal roof topped off by a fine spire. The Sun - God's chariot, also represents the seven days of the week, and the 24 hours of the day, in its concept. The temple is a brilliant chronicle in stone, with impressive sculptures. Every aspect of life is represented here, and the erotic imagery, depicts the sublimation of human love manifested in countless forms. Scenes from court, civic life and war are also done with great precision.

Unlike the other temples of the Bhubaneswar-Konark-Puri region, the Konark temple had two smaller outer halls, completely separate from the main structure. The assembly-hall and the tower were built on an imposing platform, which were carved into meticulously crafted twelve pairs of decorated wheels, each 10 feet in diameter. The entrance is reached by a broad flight of steps, flanked on either side by prancing horses, the whole representing the chariot, in which the Sun-God rides across the heavens. The court of the temple, was decorated with large free-standing sculptures of great strength and beauty. Now protected under the World Heritage List, the temple's interior was filled - up in 1903 A.D., by the then British Lt. Governor of Bengal, to save it from deterioration.

Sightseeing

Other sights at Konark are :

The Museum Of Archaeological Survey Of India

The museum which is just outside the temple enclosure, houses sculptures and carvings from the ruins of the Sun Temple. The stone architrave inside it, bearing images of nine planet dieties, the Navagrahas, originally sat above one of the temple's ornamental doorways, and is now kept as a living shrine.

Konark Beach

The beach, 3 kms away from the temple along the Puri road, is very picturesque and you can get the glimpses of the local fishing fleet at work. The sunrise at this beach is a feast for the eyes. Also an ideal site for a spot of sun-bathing.

Balighai Beach - a secluded silver stretch, girdled by casuarina forests.

Kuruma

Approachable by jeeps, Kuruma, a site of Buddhist archaeological discoveries, is only 8 kms from Konark. Recent excavations have thrust this little village into the limelight with the discovery of antique images of the Buddha seated in Bhumisparsa Mudra alongwith the image of Heruka.

Chaurasi

Chaurasi is the site of the shrines dedicated to Laxminarayanan, Amareshras and Barahi. Barahi is a deity dating back to the 9th century AD, worshipped according to tantrik practices. She is a mother goddess with the face of a boar and is depicted holding a fish in one hand and a cup in another.

Pipli

On the way to Konark is Pipli, famous for its exquisite applique work, which depict the essence of Oriya culture. It is also the home of the most colourful and original awnings, canopies, garden and beach umbrellas, shoulder and hand bags etc. The cocktail effect of the colours is certainly a feast for the eyes.

Ramachandi

A beautiful spot, 7 kms from Konark, Ramachandi is located at the confluence of the river Kusabhadra and the Bay of Bengal. The deity of Konark, Goddess Ramachandi, is worshipped here.

Kakatapur

45 kms from Konark, Kakatapur is located in the Prachi valley and is famous for its shrines of Goddess Mangala and Banadurga. legend has it that the directions for reaching the holy log from which is created Lord Jagannath's icon comes from her. The famous 'Jhamu Yatra' is held in April-May when devotees walk over a narrow trench strewn with embers.

Astranga

A famous fishing harbour, Astranga lies 55 kms from Konark. Washed by the waters of the Bay of Bengal, with its magnificent sunsets, the place really lives upto its name.

Festivals

The Chandrabhaga Mela or Magha Saptami mela in the month of February, is a grand religious festival. Thousands of pilgrims converge on the pool, on this day to take a holy dip in its curative waters, and then shuffle off to the beach where, in accordance with an age-old custom mentioned in the puranas, they watch the sun rise over the sea. The event is followed by the puja of the Navagraha.

Those interested in attending the Konark Dance Festival, held in the Open air Auditorium north of the Sun Temple, should visit during the first week of December.

Access

Konark is connected by road to Bhubaneswar (65km) and Puri (35 km). The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar and the nearest railhead is Puri.

Accomodation

Panthaniwas, Ashok Travellers Lodge(ITDC), Labanya Lodge.

Orissa