Famous for its sun temple, Konark has always been a magnet for tourists from all around the globe. The sheer magnificence of Konark Sun temple makes this coastal city one of the must visit destinations in India. Konark, in Odisha, is a true culmination of sand and architecture and once you visit its most famous landmark (aka the Surya temple), you are bound to be left lost for words! Though there is always a religious undertone associated with any temple visit, but Konark Sun temple’s architecture and history is so attractive that it can mesmerize even the atheists! If you are planning a visit to Konark temple (or Surya Mandir) here are some important things you should know.
- Temple Timings: 6 AM – 8 PM
- Entry fees: INR 30 per person for Indians, INR 250 per person for foreign tourists.
- Must see: Light & Sound show held after sunset at the temple premises is a treat for the eyes. It tells about the history of this temple in an interactive manner.
- Light & Sound Show: 7-8 PM daily
How to reach?
By Train: Konark is located just 35 KM away from Puri and 65 KM away from the capital city of Bhubaneswar. So you can book tickets on trains to Puri or Bhubaneswar.
By Road: Buses from Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and other major cities of India are available to Konark. To reach Konark you have to pass through the beautiful Marine Drive on the Puri-Konark stretch.
Konark Temple history
Built way back in the 13th century by King Narasimhadeva, Konark Sun temple is a fabulous example of the Kalinga style of temple architecture. Konark temple was strategically built at the confluence of River Chandrabhaga and the sea at Konark. It is said that the construction of the temple was so costly that it took 12 years of the kingdom’s revenues to raise this marvelous temple! This temple was constructed towards the end of Odisha’s glorious temple building phase and has over the years become the most famous sun temple in India! The temple is popular for its unique chariot-like structure consisting of seven horses and twelve wheels depicting the chariot of sun god, Surya. If you thought that the exteriors of the Sun temple were beautiful, wait until you venture inside. The stone walls of the temple are decorated with intricate engravings depicting thousands of images of deities, people, birds, animals, and mythological creatures.
Mythological significance of Konark Sun temple
Konark Sun temple is among the most popular pilgrimage destinations in India. And it is believed that the temple was built by Lord Krishna as a gratitude to Lord Surya, the Sun God. When Lord Krishna’s son Samba was smitten with leprosy, due to his father’s curse, Lord Krishna decided to go through a severe penance for 12 long years at Mitravana near the Chandrabhaga River. He ultimately succeeded in appeasing the Sun God Surya, the healer of skin diseases and Samba was cured of his illness. Another legend states that Lord Vishnu, after killing the demon Gyasur, kept his belongings at several sites to commemorate his victory. He kept his Conch at Puri, Mace at Jajapur, Disc at Bhubaneswar and his beloved Lotus at Konark.
Architectural Marvels of Konark Sun Temple
The Konark temple can be broadly classified into five projections and hence it is called Pancha Ratha. The main temple is called Vimana. The temple also consists of a dancing hall (Nirtya Mandapa) and a gathering hall (Jagamohana) which was built for offering Aarati Nrityas (dances) by the Devadashis (dancing girls) during the worship of the Sun God. The Sun temple has a pyramidal roof, which is divided into three tiers. Each of these tiers depict a number of life-size women standing in different dance poses.
The temple has four broad doors on four sides. The Western door leads you to the inner sanctum called Antarala while the others mainly act as an exit from the main temple. The temple has huge pillars, decorated with intricately engraved with pictures from the ancient times. The entrances of the interior have beautiful paintings. All the paintings on the walls of the temple string together mythological tales, which keep you entertained through the temple tour.
The basement of the temple has carvings of 1452 elephants in various poses. There are also pictures of attendants holding the royal umbrella for the king, of warriors holding swords and shields who are ready for an upcoming war. There are also paintings of hunters chasing beers in the forest. The most heart whelming depiction is of an old lady going on pilgrimage who is seen blessing her son. The middle row is decorated with imaginary figures like Gajasardula (lion upon an elephant), Naravyala (lion upon a man) and Nagamithunas (half-human and half-serpent couples) who live in deep waters of the sea where they hide their treasures. Finally, the upper structure of the Konark Sun temple is built with colorful sandstone blocks, giving a vibrant feel to the entire temple.
Other tourist attractions of Konark
Apart from the Sun temple, Konark is visited by many tourists to enjoy the beaches of Puri. There are some great beaches you can visit during your stay near Konark temple.
Chandrabhaga Beach: Situated some 5 KM away from the Konark Sun temple, Chandrabhaga Beach is considered to be one of the finest beaches in Odisha. This beach is situated at the confluence of the Chandrabhaga River with the Bay of Bengal. It is also known as the Konark Beach. When the blue sea rushes in on the golden sands, it is a sight to behold. Chandrabhaga Beach is a great destination to go surfing or sunbathing. But, it is not safe to swim here as the currents are too strong.
Ramachandi Temple and Beach: Situated on the Marine Drive Road, between Konark and Puri, Ramachandi temple is one of the most sacred Shakti Peethas of Odisha. The temple is half hidden by the casuarinas and offers a solacing ambiance to the tourists. Once you have seen the temple, it is time to visit the Ramachandi Beach. The beach is situated at the merging point of Kushabhadra River with Bay of Bengal. As you walk into the beach you will come across huge palm trees. The golden sands blend perfectly with the blue waters. There are many water activities on offers at this beach such as sailing, boating and sun bathing. This is a safe beach to go swimming as well.
A visit to the grand Konark Sun temple should be in your bucket-list. If you are planning a visit , do care to check out RailYatri’s services for a smooth and hassle free trip experience.