Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple

In the words of Rabindranath Tagore, ‘’Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man’’, about the iconic Sun Temple at Konark. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and an opulent structure, Konark Sun Temple is a stunning specimen of ancient artistry, fluidity of ideas, and a scholastic treasury. Devoted to Sun god, Surya, the breathtaking temple looks even more mesmerizing when the first rays of the rising sun fall on the entrance of the temple while the rest of the structure glows in the shadow of the crimson and golden hues. Although the major portion of the temple is now in ruins, what remains of it still hold enough charm to mesmerize and captivate the beholder.

Konark Sun Temple is believed to have been built by King Narasimhadeva I from the Eastern Ganga dynasty during the 13th century CE between 1238-1250 CE. While the temple was commissioned by the king, its architect was Samantaraya Mahapatra. The name ‘Konark’ translates to the sun and its four corners. The temple was also known as Black Pagoda because of its dark façade by the Europeans who used the magnetic radiations from it to navigate their ships. It is said that the magnetic powers of the temple were so strong that it used to draw ships to the shore. The Konark Sun temple Orissa has seen kingdoms rise and fall, identities washed away and yet it appeals to our senses even today.

Konark Sun Temple History

The name Konark is an amalgam of two Sanskrit words – ‘kona’ means corner and ‘ark’ means sun. The town gets its name because of its geographical location which appears as if the sun is rising at a certain angle. The history of sun worship goes along way back and the Konark Sun temple was built in the 13th century. What is present day’s Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, and West Bengal, was once the historic region of Kalinga and was governed by the rulers of the Eastern Ganga dynasty from the 5th century AD to 15th century AD. This was one of the most powerful and strong dynasties of India and gave birth to magnificent temples like Konark Sun Temple and Puri Jagannath temple. Konark Sun Temple was built by King Narasimha Deva I in 1244 to worship Surya, the Sun God and Konark was chosen as the place to build the temple as it has been described as the seat of Surya in various ancient texts.

The temple was a major pilgrimage site and a center of worship for centuries. However, the temple was abandoned in the 17th century after it was repeatedly attacked and looted by Muslim invaders. The temple was also damaged in a major cyclone that hit the region in 1837. In the early 20th century, restoration work was undertaken by the British archaeologist, J.A.B. van Heekeren, who conducted extensive research on the temple's architecture and history. Heekeren's work helped to raise awareness about the importance of preserving the temple, and efforts were made to protect the temple from further damage. Today, the Konark Sun Temple is recognized as one of the finest examples of ancient Indian architecture and is a major tourist attraction in India.

Konark Temple Story

There are some early references which tell us the reason behind the construction of the Sun temple. Author Balram Mishra has listed down some legends in his book ‘’The Sun Temple Konark’’ which led Narasimha Deva to build this temple. One of the legends says that King Anangabhima Deva revered Surya for a long time which gifted him the longed-for son in the family who was named Narasimha Deva. King Narasimha Deva I constructed this temple as an act of gratitude towards his father and Surya. Another legend, a copper plate impression of Narasimha Deva II in 1295 AD says Narasimha Deva I obeyed the promise of his father of expanding the Jagannath Temple in Puri, which was constructed by King Anantvarman Chodaganga.


The breathtaking and magnificent architecture of sun temple features Kalinga style of architecture which depicts a 100 feet high chariot being hauled by horses and wheels sculpted out of a single stone. The opulent chariot in question is that of sun god. Constructed of Khondalite rocks, the original structure has a 230 feet high sanctum which is not there anymore, along with 128 feet high audience hall, dance hall, and dining hall which still survives.

The structure has 24 detailed designed wheels which are 12 feet in diameter and can be seen pulled by 7 horses. These seven horses signify a week, the wheels stand for 24 fortnights in a year and 24 hours of a day, while the day cycle is depicted by the eight spokes in the wheels. This whole interpretation portrays how the time is regulated by the sun – being the human form of sun in the Hindu mythology traveling from east to west in his chariot escorted by his charioteer, Aruna, the wind god.

Upon entering, the doorway leads to the shrine of the idol of Surya made of chlorite stone. The walls inside the sun temple are decorated with reliefs and carvings consisting of intricate carvings of several figures including Hindu gods, pictures of everyday mortal life, birds, animals, etc. The exterior façade of the temple also has some erotic sculptures on its shikhara fitting to the tantra tradition while the wheels of the temple can be used as sundials and can acutely tell the time. The most stunning feature of the temple is that there is no shadow of the temple at any given time of the day.

Mayadevi Temple : Excavated in 1909, the temple is dedicated to Mayadevi – the wife of Surya, and is older than the Sun temple itself, built around the 11th century. It lies to the west of the main temple and is a small yet significant temple in the complex. The main sanctum of the temple houses Nataraja and other chambers of the temple houses idols of Surya with Vishnu, Vayu, and Agni. Some people believe that the temple was just another temple made to worship the sun god, but many people believe it to be the temple devoted to the wife of Surya.

Things to See in Konark Sun Temple Complex

The Nav Graha (nine planets) Temple.

Remains of the Chhayadevi temple, which is thought to be the ancient Sun temple.

Remains of the Vaishnava temple that comprises the figures of different Hindu Deities like Varaha, Balarama, and Vamana-Trivikrama

Interesting Facts About Konark Sun Temple
Konark Wheel

The Konark Wheels, also known as the Sun Wheels, are a set of 24 intricately carved stone wheels located at the base of the Konark Sun Temple. Each wheel is about 10 feet in diameter and weighs several tons. The wheels are arranged in a unique manner such that they represent the 24 hours of a day, with each wheel denoting an hour. They are positioned in such a way that the sun's rays fall on them at different times of the day, creating a natural timepiece. One can tell the accurate time of the day by noticing the shadow of the axel falling on the rest of the wheel. This natural sundial was used to determine the time of the day, which was important for performing daily rituals and ceremonies in the temple.

The carvings on the wheels depict different stories from Hindu mythology, including scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The carvings also include depictions of animals, birds, and mythological figures, and are a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the artisans who built the temple. The Konark Wheels are a unique feature of the Konark Sun Temple and are one of the reasons why the temple is considered a masterpiece of ancient Indian architecture. The wheels have also become a symbol of India's rich cultural heritage and are a popular attraction for tourists visiting the temple. Konark Wheels were an innovative way to tell time and keep track of the day, without the use of modern instruments. It is a testament to the advanced scientific and technological knowledge of ancient India, and the temple's ingenious design continues to captivate and fascinate visitors to this day.

Other Attractions
Konark Sun Temple Timings and Fees

Timings: The temple is open on all days from 6am to 8pm.

Entry Fees: INR40 for Indians, BIMSTEC, and SAARC citizens, INR600 for Foreigners.

Light and Sound Show: There will be two shows – one at 6:30pm and other at 7:30pm with 200 seating capacity. The price for light and sound show is INR50.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Konark Sun Temple is during the winter season, between the months of November and February. During this time, the weather is cool and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 25°C, making it ideal for sightseeing and outdoor activities. You can visit during summers as well but keep in mind to wear sunscreen all the time as it gets scorching hot. Monsoons bring in heavy rainfall and many nearby places gets flooded. It is advisable not to visit Konark during the monsoons.

How to Reach
Nearby Attractions

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Who built Sun temple?

Konark Sun Temple was built in the 13th century by King Narasimha Deva I of the Eastern Ganga dynasty and is dedicated to sun god, Surya.

Why is Konark Sun temple famous?

Konark Sun temple is a UNESCO heritage site and is known for its stunning architecture with geometrical patterns and carved wheels used to serve as sun dials.

Who destroyed Konark temple?

As believed, Konark temple was destroyed by Kalapahad, a Muslim governor of Sultan SulaimanKarrani who invaded Orissa in 1508.

Where is Sun temple located?

Konark Sun temple is in the Konark region of Odisha.

What is the height of Konark Sun Temple?

Konark Sun Temple is 229 feet (70m) tall.

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