Home to the iconic 13th century Sun Temple is a small town in the eastern state of Odisha in India. Located on the northeast end of Puri and can be easily be easily covered as a day trip from the religious city in a drive of maximum 40 minutes. Konark is known throughout the country and abroad because of the historical significance of the Sun Temple. But the town located on the Bay of Bengal also have a coastal line and beach which I found far better the Puri’s Sea Beach. Before you plan the trip to Odisha, I would like to include these things to do in Konark so that you don’t miss the highlights from the town!
While entering the town, we crossed our paths with the Chandrabhaga Beach first and enjoying fresh coconut water at the small beach market, we progressed towards the Sun Temple – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also listed under ‘Seven Wonders of India‘. The Konark temple history dates back to the thirteenth century and thus having a huge historical significance attracts millions of tourists worldwide. Dedicated to Hindu God Sun, the temple is claimed to be built in the thirteenth century by Narasimhadeva I of Eastern Ganga Dynasty, fabricated in shape of a chariot mounted on giant wheels with marvelous stone carvings.
The Konark temple is built for the dedication towards the Sun God as in ancient times there were known to be two prime Gods – Earth and Sun. The grandeur of the temple is evidently visible from the entry point itself. The temple has various sections including the main temple know as Deul, which was kept as the main shrine for the Hindu God Surya or the Sun. The premises also has a Dance Temple which is known as Nata Mandira.
The temple is designed in a way of Chariot being pulled by 7 horses. These horses are metamorphically pulling the 24 stone beautifully carved wheels. The wheels not only have the aesthetic significance but also show exact time of the day by looking at the shade casts of these spokes.
The entrance of the temple is guided by two giant lions ~ representing pride, each one killing an elephant ~ representing wealth and both killing a man lying underneath. The temple was believed to built on sea shore originally, to be used as the landmark for sea travelers because of its dull black color(also known as ‘Black Pagoda‘). The temple was an important landmark for European sailors who had given the temple the name of Black Pagoda as opposed to White Pagoda to the Jagannath temple in Puri.
Have you read Things to do in Puri? Read here!
The temple has various carvings of animal and human figures including voluptuous women & erotic carvings based on the works of ‘Kama Sutra’ and some deities as well, although major portions of the temple now are in ruins and are being restored.
There are various stories about the collapse of the temple, but none is verified. Some stories mention that the temple could never be completed because of the early death of King Narasimhadeva, while others say it was destroyed by Kalapahad, a Muslim governor on his invasion of Odisha in 1508. There are other stories about earthquake and lightning and others predict the magnetic effects of the lodestone on the top of the temple caused various issues. The premises of the temple is huge and some ancient temples are also maintained here just like the Chhaya Devi Temple which was built around 1100AD.
Quick Tips –
- As it is an archaeological site, so no need to remove shoes outside, unlike other Hindu Temples.
- Buy a visitor’s ticket from outside, no ticket counters once you enter the market complex. The place is usually crowded ~ be careful not to miss the ticket counters.
- No food/snacks allowed inside.
- Visit the temple early morning(opens at 06h00), the temple can be visited best in tranquility.
- If going via Puri, take a bus/taxi, only 40mins drive.
- If going via Bhubaneswar, take a bus/taxi, 1-hour drive.
- If you wish to learn more about the history of the shrine, hire a guide!
As we headed out for Konark early morning to cover both Sun Temple and Chandrabhaga Beach in a single day. Despite a short distance of 36kms, the drive from Puri to Konark usually falls under top 5 road trips in India. I don’t think a road trip is an appropriate term because even a round-trip to my office takes 4hrs Although a drive that will take you through the scenic beauty of the Eastern state and the Marine drive while entering the town is definitely not to be missed. The drive was enjoyable, but I found it a little exaggerated in various articles. As we touched the outskirts of Konark, the Marine drive was just parallel to the state road – don’t fall for the post on Konark stating the entire route is parallel to the sea, it isn’t!! We made a quick stop at the Beach before heading to the main temple shrine. The beach was gorgeous with golden sand literally shining into the white color in the morning sun. The most astonishing part of the beach was that it much cleaner and quieter than Puri Beach. We stayed there merely for merely half an hour because of soaring temperature, clicked some wonderful images and headed to Sun temple.
#Konark Dance Festival
Every year in the month of February, the Sun Temple hosts one of the biggest dance festivals of the country. The festival is organized by Odisha tourism department and Odissi Research Center jointly and attracts dancers from all over the country. The temple has a special Dance Temple and being an architectural wonder in itself, hosts the festival. Although we couldn’t attend the festival it is recommended to attend the festival to have an experience of the famous Odissi dance amongst others.
Next time you plan a trip to India, do include Odisha in the itinerary, sometimes it is better to go off beat. Have you visited Odisha?? Do share your experience with me.
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– The Wanderer