States of India
The Sun Temple in Konark, Orissa, is often called as the Black Pagoda. It was constructed in the mid 13th century by Maharaja Narasinghs Deva-I of the Ganga Dynasty. Located 35 Km North of Puri, this temple is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Orissa.
The Sun Temple is a witness to the artistic glory of the time of Ganga Dynasty. Built in the form of a huge chariot drawn by seven spirited horses on twelve pairs of exquisitely decorated wheels, the Sun Temple is unique in its architecture and execution. Today, of these seven horses only one remains intact. Construction of this huge edifice is believed to have taken twelve year's revenues of the then ruling kingdom.
The architecture of Sun Temple represents the passage of time. This passage of time is considered to be under the control of sun god according to Hindu dharma. The seven horses which can be seen pulling the temple towards the East into the dawn represent days of a week. The twelve pairs of wheels below the main structure of the temple represent the twelve months of a year. The eight spokes in each of the wheels stand for the eight stages in a Hindu woman's day.
Intricate designs that of musicians and dancers are carved on the walls of the main temple and the Natya Mandap (a separate building just in front of the main temple). These are a sight to watch. The main entrance of the Sun Temple is situated in front of this Natya Mandap also known as the hall of offering and the Bhogamandapa.
Though the Sun Temple has lost its original structures today due to natural calamities and human activities, the leftover structure still confirm today about the infinite imaginative power and the inspiring contribution of the artistes of yesteryears to the Vaisnav Culture.
Acting as the crowning glory for the state of Orissa, the Sun Temple at Konark plays host to the annual Odissi dance festival. Other traditional dance festivals are also held here as the open air stage against the background of the floodlit Sun Temple creates a great ambiance.
How To Reach Konark - The best way to get to Konark is to drive either from Puri (35 Km) or from Bhubaneswar (65 Km). The journey from Puri lasts for an hour but from Bhubaneswar it lasts for 3 to 4 hour. Buses as well taxis are freely available from Puri however from Bhubaneswar the bus services are less frequent.
Just why this amazing structure was built here is a mystery. Konark was an important port from early times, and was known to the geographer Ptolemy in the second century AD. A popular legend explains that one son of the god Krishna, the vain and handsome Samba, once ridiculed a holy, although ugly, sage. The sage took his revenge by luring Samba to a pool where Krishna's consorts were bathing. While Samba stared, the sage slipped away and summoned Krishna to the site. Enraged by his son's seeming impropriety with his stepmothers, Krishna cursed the boy with leprosy. Later he realized that Samba had been tricked, but it was too late to withdraw the curse. Samba then travelled to the seashore, where he performed 12 years penance to Surya who, pleased with his devotion, cured him of the dreaded disease. In thanksgiving, Samba erected a temple at the spot.
Approach : By air to Bhubaneswar, Konark is 65 km from Bhubaneswar by road.