Konark Sun Temple, a World Heritage site as recognized by UNESCO is considered a jewel in the crown of Indian architecture and is the finest example of temple architecture in Orissa. Konark is a Sanskrit term, formed with the combination of “Kon” which means “angle” and “Ark” which means “the sun”.
Konark Sun Temple Facts-
|Temple Name||Konark Sun Temple|
|Deity||Lord Surya / Sun God|
|Location||Kasia-Tamkuhi Road, Konark, India|
|Built by||King Narsingha Deva|
|Best Time to Visit||October – March|
|Spiritual Significance||Hinduism and Buddhism|
|Significance among Devotees||Boon to become parents for the couples who are childless.|
|Sun Temple Festivals||Chandrabhag Mela, Magh Saptami, Konark Dance Festival|
|Internet Facilities||Free WIFI|
|Tour Guides||Guides for specific sculptures and for the whole complex is available.|
|Closed on public holidays||No|
|Seasonal Feature||5 December for 1-week of Konark beach festival.|
Konark Sun Temple Timetable –
|Temple Opening Time||10:00 AM|
|Temple Closing Time||05:00 PM|
|Light and Sound Show||07:00 PM to 8:00 PM|
|The Konark Archaeological Museum||09:00AM to 05:00 PM | Friday Closed|
Konark Sun Temple Entry Fees
|Citizens of India||Rs. 40 per head|
|Visitors of SAARC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives, and Afghanistan)||Rs. 40 per head|
|Visitors of BIMSTEC Countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Myanmar)||Rs. 40 per head|
|Foreigner||Rs. 600 per head|
|Children up to 15 years||Free|
|Light and Sound Show||Rs. 30 per head|
|The Konark Archaeological Museum||Rs. 5 per head|
Significance of Konark Sun Temple –
- The Sun Temple complex consists of two main parts, a dance pavilion Natya mandapa, and an assembly hall Jaganmohan with Pidha Deula roof on the same platform as the remains of the shrine’s Rekha Deula tower.
- The audience hall is the most well-preserved structure, and it dominates the temple complex. Its entrance has been sealed and the interior filled with sand to prevent it from collapsing.
- A collection of sculptures from the temple is displayed at the Konark Sun Temple Museum, operated by the Archaeological Survey of India.
- The sprawling, world-class Konark Interpretation Center has five galleries with interactive exhibits and multimedia displays. The galleries are devoted to the history, culture, and architecture of Odisha, as well as sun temples across the world.
- An interesting film about the Konark Sun Temple is also screened in the auditorium.
- Every evening at the front of the temple complex, except when it’s raining, a sound and light show narrates the historical and religious significance of the Sun Temple.
- You’ll be provided with wireless headphones and can choose whether you want to hear the narration in English, Hindi, or Odia.
- High-definition projectors, with state-of-the-art 3D projection mapping technology, are used to project images onto the monument.
- If you’re interested in classical Odissi dance, don’t miss the Konark Festival, which is held at the temple during the first week of December each year.
- The International Sand Art Festival takes place at Chandrabhaga beach, near the temple, at the same time as this festival.
- There are another classical music and dance festival in Konark in late February.
- The Nava Graha (Nine Planets) Temple.
Legends attached to Konark Sun Temple
The first legend is attached to the ages of Mahabharatha –
- According to it, Samba, son of Lord Krishna has incurred a curse by Narad and became a leper.
- Samba practiced austere penance for 12 years to please Lord Surya.
- Once while bathing in the river Chandrabhag he found an image of Surya on lotus pedestal holding fully bloomed lotuses in both hands.
- This image was consecrated in the temple and with the blessing of Sun God, he was cured of his leprosy.
Another famous legend that describes the construction of Konark Temple is that of Dharmpad a 12 yr old boy who sacrificed his life to save twelve thousand craftsmen. The legend goes as –
- Dharmpad grew up with his mother in a small unknown village in Orissa in the 12th century. Right from his childhood, he was interested in architecture and crafts and being the son of a great temple architect, Bisu Maharana.
- Dharmpad had access to all the manuscripts describing the details of temple construction. By the time he turned 12, he had mastered the art of Odiya temple architecture.
- But he was eager to see his father who was away since his birth and therefore went out in search of his father. After a long and arduous journey, he reached a lonely beach where a magnificent but incomplete construction was going on.
- He realized that this was the place where his father was building the Konark Sun temple. He rushed on to meet his father, wept and kissed him, but immediately knew that something was troubling his father.
- King Narsingdeva had already announced that if Konark Sun Temple was not ready till the next morning all the craftsmen would be beheaded. Bisu maharana felt responsible for the upcoming deaths.
- Although Konark Temple had already taken 12 years to be built, it was still incomplete. The final stone or the Kalash was yet to be installed at the topmost part of the Konark Temple. All the efforts of the crew were in vain.
- Dharmpad who had studied temple architecture immediately perceived where the fault lay and knew how to surmount the problem.
- By midnight, as the moon shone bright, the Kalash was finally put in the place and lives of the 12000 craftsmen were saved.
- But Dharmpad had to sacrifice his life, for if the king got to know of the failure of the craftsmen and their defeat at the hands of a mere 12-year-old, he would surely kill them all.
- He made his way up to Konark Temple top which has had completed and jumped into the sea as the first ray of light shone.
The History of Konark Sun Temple
- Built-in 13th CE by king Narsimhadeva I of Eastern Ganga Dynasty, Konark Temples history is concealed in myths and legends that give us reasons for the construction and destruction of the temple.
- It is believed that Narsimdeva wanted to build this temple to commemorate his victory over Tughan Khan, a governor of Bengal appointed by Nasiruddin Mahmud ( A Delhi sultan) in the year 1243 AD.
- Dedicated to Surya the Sun God, it was made as his colossal cosmic chariot with 12 pairs of wheels pulled by seven horses but sadly in present only one of the horses remains.
- The temple is believed to celebrate the glory of the Ganga Dynasty and the king’s triumph over Muslim rulers of Bengal. Its many sculptures depicting war scenes and the king’s activities support this.
- 200 years later, during the reign of the Marathas in Odisha in the 18th century, a Maratha holy man found the temple abandoned and covered in overgrowth.
The Marathas relocated the temple’s Aruna Stambha pillar with Aruna the charioteer seated atop it to the Lion’s Gate entrance of the Jagannath Temple in Puri.
- British archeologists became interested in the temple in the 19th century, and they excavated and restored sections of it in the 20th century.
- However, it remained a mystery as to how the temple was built until the 1960s when an old palm-leaf manuscript was discovered. Its full set of 73 leaves comprehensively chronicled the temple’s planning and 12 years of construction from 1246 to 1258.
- The temple was last documented as being intact in the 16th century by Abul Fazal in his account of Emperor Akbar’s administration, Ain-i-Akbari.
- The information is documented in a book, published in 1972, called New Light on Sun Temple of Konarka by Alice Boner, S. R. Sarma, and R. P. Das.
The Unique Architecture of Konark Sun Temple
The brilliance of Konark Sun Temple lies in its architecture, ornamental decoration, and sculptural elements. These are concentrated on the exterior wall. The interior is generally plain and featureless.
- Konark Temple is the pride of the Orissan style of architecture. It is in the shape of the gigantic chariot in which the Sun God rides across heaven.
- The chariot has twelve pairs of wheels, each about 10 ft in diameter with a set of spokes elaborately carved.
- Seven prancing horses are shown on either side of the steps to reach the entrance of Konark Temple.
- The horses are conceived in a way to give the appearance of the Sun God himself driving the chariot while being in the garbgrih the sanctum sanctorum.
- The wheels of Konark Temple are sundials. The shadows of the spokes can be used to calculate the time of the day and night accurately.
- The alignment of the Konark Temple is east-west. It consists of sanctum sanctorum (Garba Graha).The tower of which is called Rekha -Deul( curvilinear Shikhar or tower) rising to a height of 229ft. This tower was struck by lightning, hence, it is now in dilapidated condition.
- In front of sanctum sanctorum is Jagmohan (frontal porch, maha mandap) with the pyramidal roof (Pidha-Deul). The height of Pidha-Deul is 128ft.
- The top of Rekha-Deul and Pidha-Deul were crowned by Amalek and Stupi (a ribbed disc-shaped stone). Located in front of Jagmohan is the Natyamandap. Bhog Mandap detached from the main complex has been aligned with the main temple.
- Konark Temple proper stands on huge platforms depicting richly embellished stone chariot.
- Konark Temple was originally built of Khondalite stone since it was a locally available pink colored stone with yellow streaks.
- Another unique feature of Konark Temple is the use of iron plates in between every two stones. Massive iron beams have beams used to construct higher floors of Konark Temple.
- A 52-ton magnet was used to create the peak of the main temple. It is said that the entire structure has tolerated the harsh conditions, especially of the sea because of this magnet.
- It is believed that due to the attraction of the magnet the main idol of the temple remained suspended in the air. The magnet and idol do not exist anymore. There are various theories about the removal of the magnet and about the missing idol.
- The architecture of Konark Temple was such that the early rays of morning sun illuminated the image of Sun god in the sanctum sanctorum.
- The entrance of Konark Temple is guarded by two lions crushing elephants, each elephant, in turn, lies on top of a human body.
- The lion symbolizes pride and elephants symbolize wealth. Symbolically this represents that the human being is crushed by pride and wealth.
- Thousands of images adorn the temple’s exterior wall. These images include deities, celestial figures, and human musicians, dancers and lovers.
- The base of Konark Temple wall and the roof also depicts human, divine and semi-divine figures, often in sensuous poses and postures.
- There are also images of animals, birds, foliage, warriors on horseback as well as geometrical patterns depicted in relief and also in image-in-the-round.
Archaeological Value and Preservation of Konark Sun Temple –
- The Sun Temple, Konark is protected under the National Framework of India by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act (1958) and its Rules (1959).
- The Archeological Survey of India continued the works after it took over responsibility for the temple in 1932.
- The temple was subsequently listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Another round of extensive restoration works commenced in 2012 and is ongoing.
- Other relevant protective legislation includes the Forest Act, Konârak Development Act and the notified the Council Area Act.
- Under the AMASR Act, a zone 100 meters outside the property and a further zone 200 meters outside the property constitute, respectively, prohibited and regulated zones for development or other similar activity that may have adverse effects on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.
- All conservation programs are undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India through its national, regional and local representatives.
- There are five management-related plans: safety, environment, master planning, environmental development, and tourism.
- World Heritage funding was received to carry out an assessment of structural stability.
Fall of the Konark Sun Temple
There are various theories and speculations that give reasons for the fall of this magnificent monument.
- Some believe that due to the early death of King Narasimhadeva, the builder of the Konark Temple, the construction was left half done. As a result, it remained incomplete and collapsed in the due course of time.
- Others opine that Konark Temple had lost its sanctity because Dharmpad, son of the chief architect, committed suicide just after placing the crowing stone on the top of the temple tower.
- Earthquake and thunderstruck may also be the reason for the fall of this magnificent structure.
- Another theory relates to the removal of load stone. It is believed that due to the magnetic effects of the magnet in the temple the compass of the ships was showing deflected directions to the vessels passing through the Konark sea.
- This resulted in heavy damage to the ships. So to make the shipping safe the Muslim voyagers removed the loadstone from Konark Temple. This stone worked as the central stone keeping all other stones of the temple wall in balance. Subsequent to the displacement of the load-stone, the structure weakened and the temple walls fell down in due course of time.
- Invasion by Kalapahad, a Muslim ruler in 1508 is also given as the reason for the destruction of Konark temple. Kalapahad managed to displace Dadhinauti (arch stone) and hence the temple collapsed.
Festivals Celebrated in Konark Sun Temple
Chandrabhag Mela: celebrated on Magh Saptami in February is the most popular festival of Konark temple.
- This festival celebrates the Birth of Sun God.
- A stone thrown from Konark beach lies in a sacred magical pond where Samba was cured of leprosy. For this reason, every year during the full moon phase of Magha a big religious festival is celebrated that is popularly known as Chandrabhaga Mela or Magha Saptami Mela.
- Though Konark Temple is in ruins, thousands of people flock on this day to see the rising sun and pay their venerations to the Sun God.
- During this day thousands of pilgrims join in the pool and take a holy dip in medicinal water as mentioned in Puranas and watch the sunrise over the sea.
- The event is followed by the worship of Navagraha.
Konark Dance Festival: The festival of Indian classical dance – The Konark dance festival is held between 1st -5th December every year.
- This festival has helped revive the unique dance tradition of Orissa.
- The sole aim is to bring many artists into its cultural community and creating international cultural brotherhood.
- Reputed artists participate and perform Odissi, Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Mohiniattam and other classical, folk & tribal dances/music of our country on the enchanting stage of the Natyashala in the monumental Sun Temple, Konark.
- When the sun sets in the horizon and the stars appear in the sky, the open-air-auditorium reverberates with the beats of Raga and Tala to fill the air.
How to reach Konark Sun Temple by Road, Rail, Air
Konark Temple is situated 35 km away from Puri and 64 km from Bhuvaneshwar and can be reached by bus or taxi.
- By Rail: The nearest railhead is Puri, 31 km away. There are two trains Puri express and Purushottam express that can take you to Konark.
- By Air: Bhubaneswar Airport or Biju Patnaik International Airport is 65 km and around an hour-long drive from the Konark Sun Temple.
- By Bus: Konark is well-connected by Odisha State Public Transport buses plying on National and State highways linking it to Puri, Bhuvaneswar and other cities. Comfortable Volvo buses can be boarded from Puri as well as from Bhuvaneshvar.
Where to Stay near Konark Sun Temple
A wide range of hotels is available in and around Konark for all pockets.
Lotus Resort Konark,
Rating * * *
Lotus Eco Village
Nature Camp Konark Retreat
Rating * *
Village Khatakata Patan,
Marine Drive Road,
Near Canara Bank
Sun Temple Hotel
Near Bus Stand
SH 13 at Post Konark
Marwadi Hotel and Lodge
Near Bus Stand
Where to Eat near Konark Sun Temple
Restaurants catering to different tastes are found in Konark’s main market area. Local Dhabas and small restaurants near the beach serve vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies. Marwari Bhojnalayas are there for non-vegetarians. Traveler lodges also have in-house restaurants. Visit Panthnivas Yatrinivas run by Govt. of Orissa.
- Geetanjali Restaurant
- Kamat Restaurant
- Santoshi Restaurant
Nearby Temples to Konark Sun Temple
- Mayadevi Temple: Discovered in 1909 during the excavations, it lies to the west of the Sun temple. An important temple in the complex this is dedicated to Mayadevi – the wife of Surya, the temple is older than the Sun temple built around the 11th century.
- Ramachandi Temple: This temple is located on the banks of the Kusabhadra River, about 5 km from Konark. While some say that the presiding deity is Goddess Ramachandi. The graceful goddess is seated on a lotus and among the Sakti Pithas of Puri.
- Vishnu Temple: A broken brick temple said to be the temple of Lord Vishnu, is located behind the Ramachandi temple. The pillar in front of this temple is said to be the seat of Garuda, the cosmic charioteer of Lord Vishnu. Figures of Goddess Lakshmi and Saraswati are found on the temple walls.
- Konark Matha: This Math (monastery) is situated to the south of the Sun temple. Nirakar Brahma (or void) is worshipped here. It is called “Samba Ashram” by the local people. Dhuni Kund (fireplace) is where the fire has been reserved continuously since the beginning of the Matha.
- Kuruma Temple: A relatively unknown Buddhist site, Kuruma is located 8 kilometers from the famous Sun Temple. Kuruma is one of the major archaeological excavation sites in Orrisa and is mentioned in several Buddhist texts from Asoka and Ceylon and also appears in the writings of the Chinese traveler Hieun Tsang. The origin of the site is dated to be between 8th-9th century AD and is a must-visit for everyone who likes to explore the history of India.
- Astanga (a Picnic spot): Located at a distance of 19 kilometers from Konark, and is a famous picnic spot and fishing village near Konark. The best time to visit the place is during the sunset when one can experience the panoramic and multi-hued horizon. The place is great for photographers and is a major center for fishing and salt production in Konark.
Frequently Asked Questions on Konark Sun Temple
Konark is a famous tourist destination owing to the Sun Temple and thus it is well-connected to Puri and Bhubaneswar by trains, buses, and taxis.
Konark Sun Temple is situated in Konark, a town in the district of Puri in Odisha. It is approximately 60 km from the capital Bhubaneswar and 35 km from Puri.
Yes, online tickets are available through various sites and portals to get an advance booking before you visit Konark Sun Temple.
There are several interesting things to do in Konark such as visiting Chandrabhaga Beach, offering prayers at Varahi Devi Temple and watching Konark Natya Mandap.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Konark Sun Temple is famous for its unique architecture. Its geometrical patterns and carved wheels used to serve as sundials.
The summer months in Konark from March to May experience high humidity and maximum temperatures touch almost 40° C.
Winters in Konark are far more pleasant, with temperatures falling to 15° C in December and January.
The best season to visit is between October to February when the climate is mild.
The rituals practiced in Konark Sun Temple is of the basic Hindu Rites with Pradakshina done by the devotees.