Sun Temple - The Chariot of Sun
Sun Temple, located in Konark, is probably the best known attraction that is there in Orissa. The temple was build by King Narasimhadeo in the 13th century. Sun Temple is also referred to as 'Black Pagoda' as it is build of black granite. The temple dedicated to Sun God was build as a chariot to him with wheels on all sides of the temple. It is one of the earliest places where Sun God was worshiped. Although few sections of the temple are now in ruins, but still the aura and the elegance of the temple is retained. Konark was once a busy port and many ships came and went. To Europeans, it served as a landmark who started calling the temple Black Pagoda. Sun Temple is considered a marvel among other temples and has been the inspiration for many writers and poets. Numerous books and articles related to its history and architecture have been written. Looking at the temple. Rabindranath Tagore, once said, "Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man".
History of Sun Temple
It is said that Sun Temple is built on the place where Samba, the son of Lord Krishna worshiped Sun God for liberation from a curse put upon him by his father. Legend has it that Samba was arrogant about his beauty and once made fun of a great sage Narada. Sage Narada planned to take revenge. He once lured Samba to the side of the lake where his step mothers were taking bath. Lord Krishna came to know of this unacceptable act by his son. Infuriated, he cursed his son with Leprosy. When Lord Krishna realized that his son was tricked by Sage Narada, he asked Samba to worship Sun God, who is the healer of all diseases. Samba Worshiped Lord Surya on the sea coast. He spent 12 years of penance worshiping Sun God. After long, Surya God appeared and asked Samba to take a holy dip in Konark. As soon as he was relieved of Leprosy, he planned to built a temple dedicated to Sun God at the very same place where he appeared.
Architecture of Sun Temple
Few sections of the temple are now in ruins, but still major portions are still intact. The temple is an unparalleled example of medieval temple architecture. Sun Temple is a form of Vahana (vehicle) style as it is in the shape of a chariot. There are many such temples in India, however none come close to the magnificence of Sun Temple. The main temple structure stands on a platform. There are 12 wheels carved on the two sides of the platform. Each wheels is more than 10 feet in height. The spokes of the wheels work as sundials predicting the exact time of the day. Just stand under one of the wheels and feel the grandness of them. To complete the chariot, there are structures of 7 galloping horses at the entrance of the temple. These seven life size horses are a major attraction of the temple. Once you are close to the walls of the temple, notice the intricate carvings that have been done on the walls. There are images of God and Goddesses, men, women, warriors and scenes from day to day life. It is said that the temple was not build how it was envisioned. But some say that it was build exactly the way it was planned. The magnetic dome was removed from the top as it was causing many ships to crash around the shores. It is kept in the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) museum for display.
Sun Temple in Konark is close to both Bhubaneswar (64 Km) and Puri (35 Km). So it makes a easy reach to the temple by any mode of transportation. Closest airport is at Bhubaneswar whereas nearest railhead is in Puri. And if you are visiting Konark around December, do not forget to be a spectator at the electrifying Konark Dance Festival which showcases all Indian classical dances like Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi and many more. They are performed by dancers who have earned great appreciation for their work from around the world. You can visit Konark any time of the year, as it has a favorable climate throughout the 12 month period.
Sun Temple is one of the most celebrated temples in India. It has been the pride of Orissa since the day it was constructed. Considered as a marvel in temple architecture, Sun Temple is the most stunning structure on the shores of Orissa.
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