The Konark Sun Temple –An Incredible Masterpiece of Architecture
Situated on the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal, the Konark Sun Temple is one of the most spectacular destinations in Odisha. The 13th-century temple complex is designed as a huge ornate stone chariot led by seven stone horses and is dedicated to Surya, the Sun God. Also known as the Black Pagoda, the temple is an incredible masterpiece of architecture that attracts tourists, historians, and archaeologists from all over the world. It is located a few hours drive from some of the major cities of Odisha like Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.
About the Konark Sun Temple
The Konark Sun Temple was built in the 13th century by the great King Narasimhadeva I of the Ganga dynasty. Its shape is like that of a huge chariot of the great Sun God with 12 pairs of wheels made with great artistry. This chariot is shown being pulled by seven horses. Konark Sun Temple is a perfect example of Kalinga architecture. It is near the beach. Here the natural beauty of the beach is made on sight.
Odisha is known for its three great temples and together they are called the Golden Triangle. There are two other temples falling within this triangle – the Jagannath Temple of Puri and the Lingaraja Temple of Bhubaneswar. The color of the Konark temple is black. Therefore, it is also called Black Pagoda. Be aware that another name for Jagannath temple is also White Pagoda.
The Konark Sun Temple has been a landmark for the sailors who came to Odisha for centuries. Konark is also a big pilgrimage for Hindus where people come every year in February to visit the Chandrabhaga fair.
The Konark Sun Temple included in the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1984 for its great architecture, subtle artifacts, and abundant sculptures.
Also, the Konark Sun Temple protected as the National Framework of India by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act) and its rules (1959).
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History of Building of The Konark Sun Temple
In ancient times ships used to start from the ports of Orissa, crossing the Bay of Bengal to voyage across the Central & Indian oceans for the distant lands of Burma and Java. This maritime land called Kalinga and Utkal and its name indelibly linked to that of the Mauryan king Ashoka.
It was his war to conquer Kalinga that made Ashoka face a moral transformation as he watched the carnage he had caused on the battlefield. A penitent Ashoka gave up wars of aggression and became a Buddhist and Kalinga too embraced the new religion. On a rock in Dhulia near Bhubaneswar, Ashoka engraved the story of his conversion. Later, with the rule of King Kharavela, one of the greatest Oriya kings, Jainism became the leading religion of the region.
With the rule of the Kesari kings, Brahmanism returned to Orissa and during the rule of the Kesari and Ganga dynasties that the famous temples built at Bhubaneswar, Puri, and Konarak. Orissa evolved a distinct style of religious architecture that carried echoes of its Buddhist and Jain past.
Built between the 8th and 12th centuries, temples like the Lingaraja, Jagannath, and Surya Deul at Konarak are among the greatest architectural creations in the country. In medieval times Orissa saw a time of great confusion with the rule of Afghans followed by the conquest of the Mughals and the invasion of the Marathas till the 19th century when it became a part of the British Raj.
Architecture of Oriya Temples and The Konark Sun Temple
The state of Orissa curves along the Bay of Bengal with its long shoreline of golden beaches and turbulent seas. The tropical climate makes this a land of palm trees, mango groves, jute, and paddy fields. There is a large tribal population in the forests of sal, teak, and sandalwood and some of their forest deities become Brahmanism and included in the Hindu pantheon. Here on the seaside, by the groves of bamboo and casuarina trees, they built temples with high curving towers and walls vibrant with sculpture.
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Orissa evolved its own school of temple architecture with its local terminology. The style follows the Nagara school of the north but with some beautiful variations. The sanctum with the tower called the deul or Rekha deul. The tower also has a distinctive shape, rising in straight lines from the square sanctum and then curving gently inwards to the apex.
At the summit the wide fluted disk of the amalaka topped by the finial called the Kalash. The shikharas of the Orissa temples among the tallest in the country The exterior of the temples profusely decorated with carvings while the interiors, unlike Khajuraho, left severely plain. With the passage of time embellishments became richer and by the time of the last temple of the period Konarak, was nearly ostentatious.
The mandapa or main assembly hall attached to the sanctum called the Jaganmohan. The other mandapa often added in large temples the bhoga mandir, the hall of offerings, and the natya mandir, the hall of dance These two were at times attached to the main structure and at other times built at a distance.
The mandapas of the earlier temples have flat roofs but later they wen given a many-tiered pyramidal roof; the tiers were referred to as pidas. Also, the large temples have an enclosing wall and other structures like subsidiary shrines and kitchens that were placed within the courtyard. The important temples like the Jagannath temple at Puri and Bhubaneswar’s Lingaraj have many enclosing walls and a multitude of structures, creating a complete world within their sprawling courtyards.
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How to reach The Konark Sun Temple
The Konark Sun Temple is easily accessible by any transport route. This temple is at a distance of about 68 km from Bhubaneswar.
Rail Route to Reach the Konark Sun Temple
The nearest rail route to Konark Temple is Bhubaneswar. Bhubaneswar station connects to all major railway stations in India.
Road Route to Reach the Konark Sun Temple
NH 16 to reach Konark Temple. This national highway connects the country from West Bengal to Tamil Nadu.
The Konark Sun Temple is located in the state of Odisha, it is about 68 km from Bhubaneswar.
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