Konark. The temple of Sun God

4th Jan 2021

It's good to be back on the roads again.

Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 1/18 by Sujoy
Freedom !! At last..

There’s no denying the fact that the Coronavirus pandemic has changed our worlds, and this is going to last longer than one can imagine. As things start getting back to the so-called new normal and the roads opened, all I wanted badly was to be back on them and feel the sense of freedom that I had been missing for long. Road trips are all about the adrenaline rush and when I’m behind the wheel, I feel free. I feel liberated and alive. In the present circumstances Road trips are perhaps the safest way ahead in the world of travelling. Pack your bags, get your car serviced, and hit the roads, nothing is more liberating than it.

I was planning for this trip for quite some time but didn’t want to do any travel in 2020. Hence the plan was to hit the roads in 2021. Likewise the plan was made to stay at Puri for  and just enjoy the nature. I was more exited about the travel part as for last 9 months I couldn’t do any long drive, so wanted badly to enjoy driving on the beautiful stretch of NH-16 and NH-316.

This part of the travelogue is only restricted to my visit to the magnificent Konark Sun Temple. 

The road from Puri to Konark is very picturesque, dotted with sand dunes and Casuarina trees. However, due to the tragic effects of Cyclone Fani, hundreds of Casuarinas that once lined the roads, now lie uprooted, by the side of the road. The distance of Konark Sun Temple from Puri is roughly about 50 Kms and the drive took us a little more than an hour. 

Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 2/18 by Sujoy
Beautiful surface to drive on.

There are three entrances to the Sun Temple. In the absence of a dedicated parking lot for private cars, we had to park our car on the road near the temple complex earmarked for parking and walked down to the temple. The multitude of souvenir shops selling traditional gift items inside the temple complex were (qualifying multitude) was a major distraction. I was surprised to see huge crowd at Konark temple. The day being first Sunday of 2021, many tourists visited Konark Sun Temple. I was of the belief that online ticketing was only permitted but surprised to see huge rush at the ticket counter. There was no sign of social distancing, which for once prompted me to think about returning back without even entering the temple complex. Later changed my mind, avoided the rush at the ticket counter and purchased online ticket. But the good thing is that no one is permitted to enter the temple complex without wearing a mask.

Architecture of the Konark Sun Temple:

The Sun temple has been built as a majestic and colossal chariot which is about to make its first flight. The King Narasimhadeva of the Ganga dynasty was the worshipper of the Sun god, and so the temple was made in the praise of the Sun God. The chariot was made in such a way that the Sun God himself was perceived to be driving the chariot, while being seated inside the “Garbagriha” or the inner sanctum. The chariot is drawn by seven horses and twenty four wheels. Each horse denotes a day of the week and each wheel depicted the hours of the day.

Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 3/18 by Sujoy
First View of the Temple.
Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 4/18 by Sujoy
Angular view of temple. On the right of the frame is Natya Mandapa
Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 5/18 by Sujoy
No Compromise with safety.
Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 6/18 by Sujoy
With the sun setting at the background, it's a photographers delight.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this temple is the perfect example of an era when Kalingan architecture had reached its pinnacle. We marveled at the majestic temple of the 13th century with the geometric precision of its intricate carvings. It is believed to have been built on the edge of the sea–which today has fortunately receded to a respectful distance. The temple was made of three types of stones. The stones were mainly black in colour. The Konark Temple, when built, served as a beacon to the ships in the Bay of Bengal. The sailors could see the temple from the sea and they called the temple as Black Pagoda.

Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 7/18 by Sujoy
Standing tall.
Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 8/18 by Sujoy
Beauty in ruins.

We realized that from the sides, the temple looks exactly like a chariot, and from the front, a temple. The Sun God idol is said to be floating mid-air inside the main sanctum due to the trick of magnets and metals. Infact, there are stories that go on to say that many ships that sailed the Bay of Bengal when came near the Konark Temple were destroyed due to the pull of the magnet. The main door of the temple is sealed since long. It is said that the magnet too, has been removed and the deities placed elsewhere! The temple would have simply crumbled down to earth had the doors were not sealed. This I learnt from some shopowner outside the temple.

Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 9/18 by Sujoy
The temple at the back and deul or sanctuary infront (that collapsed over a century ago) is the jagamohana or bhadra deul.
Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 10/18 by Sujoy
Stone sculpture of roaring Simha-Gaja (Lion-Elephant)
Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 11/18 by Sujoy
To the west of main temple is temple Mayadevi. It is said to be reclaimed from sand at the beginning of the20th century and is said to be older then main temple. According to locals, the missing image called Ramachandi, is now worshipped in a temple ,8 kms away from Konarak.
Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 12/18 by Sujoy
South western view of temple.

The main tower no longer exists. The architecture resembles the holy JagannathTemple of Puri. On either side of the main temple are colossal figures of royal elephants and horses.

Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 13/18 by Sujoy
View of a Wheel. Learnt that 3 types of rock were used i.e. chlorite, laterite and khondalite.The facing stones were smoothly finished and fitted together so finely that the joints are hardly visible. The 8 spokes in each wheel symbolise the 8 prahars (time frames) of the day.
Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 14/18 by Sujoy
View from the northern side of the temple.

The original temple, which had a main sanctum sanctorum, estimated to have been 229 feet tall, is supposed to have collapsed in 1837. The main mandapa or hall (Jagamohana), which is about 128 feet tall, still stands and is the principal structure in the surviving ruins. Among the structures that have survived to the current day are the dance hall (natamandira) and the dining hall (bhogamandapa).

Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 15/18 by Sujoy
Guarding northern side are two life-sized elephants.
Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 16/18 by Sujoy
From the northern side.

Coming out of the temple, there is an Interpretation Centre opposite the exit gate. The Centre, with its collection of sculpture replicas from the Sun Temple ruins, contains rare documents and fascinating theories regarding the temple architecture, structure, and sculpture, as well as its history endorsed by ASI.

Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 17/18 by Sujoy
In the trunk of the guarding elephants is a warrior with a shield.
Photo of Konark. The temple of Sun God 18/18 by Sujoy
Front view of the temple.

Arka Khetra Sun Temple Interpretation centre

There is a interpretation centre set up by the Indian Oil Foundation for an introduction to the world heritage monument - the Konark Sun Temple. The Interpretation Centre is spread across eight acres. It is developed as a new-age museum, it uses different means of communication to aid and stimulate the discovery process while enhancing the visitor’s intellectual and emotional connect to the site. Interested  tourists can keep aside 30-45 minutes for this place  before enteringthe Sun Temple for enhancing their experience.

This centre tells the story of the construction and the fall of the sun temple with beautiful replicas and a superb audio visual introduction .  For adults there are galleries depicting the nuances of the temple architecture in Odisha and India along with several miniature replicas. All halls are air-conditionied and the centre includes a restaurant and clean toilets.

This place is a must visit for etravel enthusiasts who are interested in history of the temple. 

When we came out of the temple ,it was already dark, when we concluded our Konark Temple visit and there was no point visiting the Chandrabhaga beach then, we straightway headed back to the hotel.

Konark to Puri, A mesmerizing drive throuh Marine Drive.