Konark Sun Temple-An Enduring Enigma on the Sands of Time

Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple

History of Konark Sun Temple – A World Heritage Site

The wind howled across the desolate beach. The waves of the Bay of Bengal seemed to have gone berserk as they rose high to crash against the beach in a ceaseless cacophony of sound. The sky was overcast and a pall of black gloom seemed to be moving in on the distant horizon. It was afternoon, but the sun was nowhere to be seen. I was at the Chandrabhaga Beach, a few kilometres away from the famous World Heritage Site, the Konark Sun Temple.

Konark Sun Temple

As I watched the howling wind blowing away the sand violently from the surface of the beach, time itself seemed to have come to a standstill. It was as if the shifting sands had blown away the very dimension of time itself and I was able to travel back in time at my own sweet will!

Sometime in the beginning of the 20th Century

A sombre looking British gentleman follows his son who leads him around a corner and stretches out his hand excitedly pointing out at something. The British gentleman is flabbergasted at what he is seeing. Stretched out before him is a massive and magnificent structure, inlaid with exquisite carvings and sculptures. It is apparently a temple, but unlike any temple, he has seen in his life.

Konark Sun Temple

The temple stood, in front of him standing in grandiose style, rising to the blue skies as if in triumphant obeisance. What was really astounding was that there had been only huge mounds of sand at the place where the temple now stood revealed. He had known that a team of archaeologists had been working in the area, but had never expected that their find would be of such a gargantuan and exquisite nature. The Konark Sun Temple had been literally unearthed from the sands of time under which it had been buried for centuries.

Sometime in the 9th Century or earlier

Legend has it that Samba who was the son of Krishna, the popular Hindu God once fell victim to a curse and was afflicted with the dreaded disease of Leprosy. He did penance on the banks of what was then Chandrabhaga river for 12 long years and worshipped the Sun and became free from his disease. The original Konark Sun Temple is supposed to have been built by Samba near the mouth of the river.

Sometime in the 13th Century or earlier

A young man called  Bisu Maharana makes his way to the court of King Narasimha Deva I deep in thought. The man who looks ordinary is actually an extraordinary architect well versed in the nuances of stone as well as a scientist who knew the secrets of esoteric sciences like electromagnetism and astronomy. The King makes his wish, crystal clear to Bisu Maharana. He has 12 years to build a temple dedicated to the Sun God near the banks of the Chandrabhaga. He can use the services of 1200 labourers to complete his labour of love, which has to be something that the World has never seen before. Bisu Maharana leaves the King’s court, his mind whirring with ideas, his heart beats pulsating with excitement and the adrenalin coursing through his veins, a vague image of the finished temple already forming in his mind’s eye.

A couple of days were left for the 12 year period given by King Narasimha Deva I to elapse. Bisu Maharana gazed lovingly at the creation that he had conceived of and 1200 artisans had sweated for 12 long years to give shape to. The structure glittered like a giant diamond against the dark night. The temple, in the shape of a mammoth chariot, pulled by 12 exquisite wheels on either side stood as if ready to take off into the sky. The structure shone brilliantly, embellished by magnificent sculptures and carvings meticulously given shape by the expert hands of the artisans. Bisu Maharana should be happy, one would have thought, but his brow was furrowed with lines of worry. The temple was not yet complete. One final piece was yet to be clicked into place to complete the complex puzzle that he had taken 12 long years to put in place. A gigantic magnet weighing 52 tonnes remained to be placed at the top of the 229 feet tall roof of the sanctum sanctorum. This magnet along with other magnets in the temple would not only hold the rock structure reinforced with iron plates together, but in what was to be the most brilliant of Bisu Maharana’s innovations, it would also ensure that the main idol of the Sun God which had iron constituents, would float in the sanctum sanctorum. What was worrying Bisu Maharana was the fact that he had still not been able to come up with a way to hoist the huge magnet to the roof and time was ticking away. He and his army of artisans faced the prospect of death at the hands of the King if the structure remained incomplete after the 12 year period had elapsed.

Konark Sun Temple

A miracle happens. A 12-year-old boy called Dharmapada, who is none other than Bisu Maharana son, whom he has never seen as he left home when his wife was pregnant to devote his time to building the Konark Sun Temple, arrives on the scene. The young boy does what his father and his 1200 artisans could not do, he hoists the magnet to the top of the roof. He then jumps into the swirling waters of the Chandrabhaga and gives up his life. After all the King should not know that one more person than the prescribed 1200 men had been involved in the construction of the temple or it would have spelt their death. So Dharmapada sacrifices his life to save the life of his father Bisu Maharana and his 1200 strong contingent of workers.

Back to the Present-2017

Konark Sun Temple

The myths and legends surrounding the Konark Sun Temple are many and each one of them is more intriguing and fascinating than the other. Though it is impossible to sift fact from fiction, what is clear is the fact that the builders of the Konark Sun Temple were not only blessed with the genius of artistry in sculpture and architectural design, but they were equally well versed in the sciences of astronomy and electromagnetism.

Konark Sun Temple

A major part of the Konark Sun Temple is in ruins today, but what survives is enough to give one a glimpse of what the structure must have looked like in the past.

Konark Sun Temple

Today the stones of Konark Sun Temple sing a melodious tune in stone. The surviving Nata Mandir or Dance hall with its exquisitely carved pillars strike a mellifluous note and transport the visitor to a time when the hall stood proudly in all its glory and graceful danseuses moved to lilting music that enthralled the audiences.

Konark Sun Temple

Even today the Konark Sun temple comes alive to vibrant color, music, and dance during the Konark Dance Festival which is an annual event. Konark Sun Temple is considered as one of the seven wonders of India.

Konark Sun Temple

The entrance to the temple has an intriguing pair of statues, a lion can be seen trampling an elephant and a man can be seen lying below the elephant.

Konark Sun Temple

The main and dominating surviving structure today is the Jagamohana or audience hall which itself is closed and filled with sand and stone to prevent it from collapsing. The Sanctum Sanctorum which housed the Sun God, once stood proudly behind the Jagamohana before it met its end and fell to dust.

Konark Sun Temple

One of the most enduring pieces of sculpture which combine art and science is the famous Konark Wheel. These can be found around the temple one either sides and seem in perfect condition.

Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple

The wheels can still tell the time of the day today and stand as mute witness to the inexorable march of time. A silent and circular mark on the sands of time.

Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple

The other unique facet of the Konark Sun Temple are the exquisite carvings and sculptures that grace its precincts. Musicians, Dancers, Warriors, Gods, Goddesses, Demons, Animals all seem to jump to life, lovingly created in stone by unknown and unsung masters.

Konark Sun Temple

Even the ravages of time and nature have failed to dull the spark of life that the artists have captured in their stone creations. A walk around the temple precincts is sure to leave you enthralled as you see the expressive faces of the men and women, frozen in stone.

Konark Sun Temple
Konark Sun Temple
Konark Sun Temple
Konark Sun Temple
Konark Sun Temple
Konark Sun Temple
Konark Sun Temple
DSC_0218

One another aspect that is usually highlighted about the Konark Sun Temple, are the erotic sculptures that sing a ballad of love on the temple walls. These are similar to those found in the temple of Khajuraho and also many others in India.

Konark Sun Temple

Though there are various theories for the occurrence of these erotic sculptures on the outer walls of the temples, suffice to say that what is represented is the romance of love in stone in all its purity and innocence. A part of everyday life that seems to be represented on the walls of the temples that account for less than 20 % of the total sculptures that grace the temple.

Konark Sun Temple

After losing myself amongst the historic stone structures that still stand of the Konark Sun Temple, the darkness compelled me to make my way out, questions still whirring in my mind, questions that still remained unanswered. Would all my questions be answered on my 12th visit, I wondered, as I thought of the coincidental significance and association of the number 12 with the Konark Sun Temple.

Konark Sun Temple

Some Unanswered Questions of Konark Sun Temple

  • Where is the mammoth magnet that is supposed to have been part of the temple before the collapse of the Sanctum Sanctorum, some stories suggest that the magnet is somewhere in Bermuda and is responsible for the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle!
  • How and why was the temple actually destroyed?
  • Where is the original idol of the Sun God, though the idol in the National Museum of Delhi is claimed to be the original?
  • What special or divine skills did the architects and builders possess that they were able to build such huge structures?

Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple – A Ready Reckoner

  • Konark Sun Temple is situated about 36 kilometers from the temple city of Puri and 72 kilometers from Bhubaneswar, the capital city of the Indian state of Orissa
  • The nearest airport is the Biju Patnaik International Airport situated in Bhubaneswar and connected to all major cities of India
  • One can stay in Bhubaneswar or Puri and visit the Konark Sun Temple, there is a range of accommodation from budget to luxury, both in Bhubaneswar and Puri. Odisha Tourism has accommodation available at Konark itself too
  • The best time to visit Konark Sun Temple is during the winter months between October to March as the weather is pleasant. During the summers the place tends to get a little too hot for comfort
  • The Konark Sun Temple is open from Sunrise to Sunset
  • The fees for entry to the Konark Sun Temple is Rs.30 for Indian citizens and Rs.500 for foreign nationals. There is no fees for still cameras and one can photograph to yourheart’ss content
  • When in Konark also visit the Chandrabhaga Beach and the Archaeological Museum which are nearby

Watch our video on the Konark Sun Temple:

A visit to the Konark Sun Temple is like a walk down the intriguing and fascinating pages of history that seem to spell bind you with the mystery and romance of the unknown and unanswered. The Konark Sun Temple is sure to leave one awestruck and contemplative, a place that has more questions than answers, a place that takes you beyond the frontiers of your own imagination!

Konark Sun Temple

Indeed Konark Sun Temple, the World Heritage Site is an architecture marvel. It is a stunning masterpiece and a symbol of Incredible India’s heritage.

 

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87 thoughts on “Konark Sun Temple-An Enduring Enigma on the Sands of Time

  1. Bee Reply

    wow! I’m pretty much blown away on reading this! There’s so much to this world to discover and learn about. Loved this post and liked how you included the myths and origins!

  2. Una-Minh Reply

    Love the storytelling style of your post, I really felt like I was at the sun temple. Sounds like a place that’s both very intriguing and mysterious. You could stare it at in awe for hours!

  3. Eddy Harteneck Reply

    Very nicely written article of a temple that seems to be a must-see once in India… only once had the pleasure to travel in that country and – unfortunately – not in that region. Will try to change… Cheers, Eddy

  4. Hang Around The World Reply

    We love exploring places like this one! We have heard of this temple thanks to one of our friends and now we understand why he said that it’s so wonderful. Have to visit Sun Temple 🙂

  5. Rajkumar G Reply

    This article is very nice and has lots of useful information. However, there’s one error. Konark is on the coast of Bay of Bengal and not the Arabian Sea.

  6. Danik Reply

    OMG! This temple looks amazing! I never seen anything like this and now I want to check it out. I would love to explore this area.

  7. robin rue Reply

    That temple sounds like a must-see! It is absolutely gorgeous and the history of it is so impressive.

  8. Jeanette Reply

    This is very cool! I love exploring places that are like this. It has so much history is just rich with history. If they were going down that way I will be excited to see this.

  9. Sarah Bailey Reply

    My goodness that temple is absolutely beautiful! I adore history and this is most definitely somewhere I would love to explore for myself.

  10. Franc Ramon Reply

    The structures looks ancient and I really appreciate how you shared the myths and stories of the temple. You really get to learn a lot with temple visits.

  11. Patricia Reply

    The stories you reveal about the Konark Sun Temple are fascinating, and you are right, of course, that separating the fact from the fiction would be impossible. Plus, the stories just lend to the magnificence of the place. And it is incredible — I can’t stop staring at the photos of all the details. I can’t imagine creating something like that. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Kimberly Reply

    This is unbelievably fascinating and I am blown away at how intricate all the details are in the structures. I could only imagine what this would look like in person. The fact that it can still tell time today….unreal. Love this post so much.

  13. Kim Reply

    The details of that temple are unbelievable and the fact that it was made so long ago makes it even more exquisite. It’s too bad that that kind of detail isn’t put into modern buildings.

  14. Pam Reply

    What an amazing temple, even though it’s in ruins it still looks amazing. I would love to see this in
    person.

  15. Marysa Reply

    This is an incredible temple. The size and attention to detail is amazing. We have been to some temples in South America, and this would be interesting to check out.

  16. Stephanie Reply

    These carvings are so intricate. I have never seen anything like it. The wheels are incredibly interesting as well. It’s impressive how intelligent and creative people were so many years ago. I love exploring historical sites. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Anosa Reply

    The temple is truly breathtaking and your pictures just makes me want to visit some day. I love your narration too, quite captivating

  18. TIm B Reply

    The intricate details of those carvings are amazing. I would really like to see them in person some day.

  19. neha Reply

    I have heard a lot about the architecture and other details of Konark sun temple since childhood days. it’s high on my bucket list. Thanks for the detailed walkthrough, the temple is indeed very beautiful. I will soon plan a trip here

  20. Betty Boiron Reply

    This is a great post with incredible pictures! I’d never heard of the Konark sun temple before but the details are incredible.

  21. Neha Saini Reply

    The best place to expand time. Conceived in the form of a huge chariot drawn by seven spirited horses on 12 pairs of exquisitely decorated wheels–after the mythical seven horse chariot of Sun God–the temple was unique in its architecture and implementation. History lovers must visit this place.

  22. Claire Summers Reply

    really interesting and informative post. I love to read about the history of a place before I visit so this has really helped me. Thank you.

  23. Joe Reply

    I can tell you that flabbergasted British gentlemen coming across a sublime feat of Indian architecture is a phenomenon that lives on to this day, hahaha! 😉 A beautifully written piece, with sumptuous photos to match; enigmatic indeed, with such spell-binding surroundings. There really is a treasure trove of attractions for one to seek out in India!

  24. Vibeke Johannessen Reply

    I love your writing style. Such great information. You would be a good travel guide for the Konark sun temple. It sounds so interesting and the architecture looks incredible. I really hope I get to see this in my lifetime. 😀

  25. Andrea Reply

    This reminds me a lot of Angkor Wat and some of the surrounding temples in Cambodia! The carvings are so intricate and beautiful. It’s a shame they had all the scaffolding up while you were there but it’s easy to pretend it’s not there and get lost in the amazigness of it all! LOVE IT!

  26. candy Reply

    This temple is absolutely stunning. I couldn’t stop staring at the intricate details in the photos. I can only imagine all the stories that come along with this temple. Wish we could go back in time and find out the real story 🙂

  27. Paige W Reply

    I love all of the great details you add with your writing skills. The detail of these temples is absolutely stunning! I’d love to visit!

  28. shannon Reply

    I am in awe. I love temples, anything historic really especially when it’s in a unique setting like this. Amazing pics, thanks for sharing!

  29. Dogvills Reply

    What a breath taking sight. I cannot imagine how difficult it was for the workers to come up with such intricate details using only crude tools! It must just amazing what people can do with the resources given them.

  30. Maureen Reply

    I am so blown away by the rich histories behind the temple and the myths surrounding it as you eloquently described here. Must be more magnificent to see and explore this in real life 🙂

  31. Jojo Reply

    I look at pictures of these places online but I can tell it is something that is indescribable when you see it for yourself in person. It’s one of those places with so much history, beauty and detail.

  32. Jo Reply

    I spend part of my childhood in Orissa but obviously don’t remember a think. This makes me want to go back and explore properly. Your blog really inspires me to see more of my home country. Thanks for this amazing history lesson 🙂

  33. Ada Reply

    Wow The Konark Sun Temple looks like one of the best temples I’ve seen so far ( on photos obviously )! I would love to visit it one day! Love that story and the way you were writing it!

  34. Susan Reply

    I hadn’t heard of the Konark Sun Temple, what an amazing architectural feat! I’m particularly intrigued by the giant magnet and the story of the architect’s son. As for the wheels telling the time, that’s impressive too.

  35. Janna Reply

    I can’t help but wonder how they were able to do this? I was just in Cambodia recently and had the same thoughts when I visited Angkor Wat. It was insanely gorgeous! I also love the history behind the temples. Can’t wait to see more in the future!

  36. Jessica A Reply

    Wow, what an amazingly beautiful temple with a great history. I love the way you told the story, it made me feel like I was there! I can’t believe it only took them 12 years to build all that. They must have been working on it non-stop!

  37. meg Reply

    These carvings are incredible! Truly works of art. It’s amazing to see that someone took the dedication and time to make such a magnificent place.

  38. Tracy Reply

    What an amazing place! Really enjoyed reading your post – absolutely fascinating site!

  39. Katie Reply

    This is a great post! Thanks for including so much detail about the temples, I find places like this fascinating, and this is a perfect guide for anyone planing a trip here.

  40. Christina Reply

    Konark Temple sounds like a gem. It looks a bit like the temples in Angkor Wat but I like the fact that it’s not as well known. I sounds like exactly the kind of place I’d enjoy exploring.

  41. Karla Reply

    This was definitely a good read and those details… I mean the photos. You make me want to jump on a plane and bok a ticket now.

  42. Rhiannon Reply

    This was so interesting to read, and I absolutely love how descriptive your writing style is! I’d never heard of Konark Sun Temple before but now I’m itching to visit – will definitely have to try and get to Bhubaneswar on my next visit to India. Like another commenter already said, it is quite reminiscent of Angkor Wat, which is interesting given their different geographical locations and history behind them!

  43. Garth Reply

    Such an interesting read! Would really enjoy visiting this temple. Great photos too.

  44. Rhonda Albom Reply

    What a masterpiece, with such fascinating history. Amazing it was buried for so long. I hadn’t heard this temple before, but now I would like to see it. Your detailed photos are inspiring. It was interesting to read about a boy sacrificing his own life for his father, as it seems the opposite is more common.

  45. Sally Reply

    There are so many temples. The amount of time and detail that went into them is amazing. The amount of history they have is also incredible.

  46. Gokul Raj Reply

    One of the most famous temples in India with spellbinding architecture. I never got a chance to visit this place yet.

  47. Barb Reply

    It s incredible how detailed this temple is. India always surprises me in a good way. There are so many hidden gems in this country.

  48. Danik Reply

    I am loving the detail on the temple. I never heard of this temple before but the way you have captured it is making me want to visit this place when I do my intense Indian tour soon. Great post 🙂

  49. Swati Reply

    Sandy, I love the way you express yourself and this particular article popped up just at the right moment. I am planning a trip to Konark in Sep and the guide will come in handy 🙂 . I am so intrigued by the carving on the wheels and all the stories behind the temple !

  50. Elisa Reply

    India has beautifully carved temples, with beautiful legends behind. I don’t think I understood the early XXth century story: how could this huge temple remain totally unnoticed till those days?

  51. Travel Lexx Reply

    Such an incredible temple and so much history behind it. The detail on the sculptured and the wheels is amazing and no wonder the place is a UNESCO site! Stunning place and would love to visit it one day! Thanks for sharing

  52. Megan Jerrard Reply

    Wow, what a structure – it’s incredible to read between the ruins of what it would have been like in it’s day. Really is a massive and magnificent structure – I’ve never seen anything like it elsewhere in the world – ancient India was far advanced past what we would be able to achieve from architecture today.

  53. Shruti Prabhu Reply

    Wow! Love your photographs. Konark really looks like an amazing temple. The story behind the temple is so interesting. How and why was the temple actually destroyed! Would love to build a time machine and find out.

  54. Lee Reply

    It fascinates me seeing temples, mosque b cause of the intricate designs and architecture. Its also nice to know the history of the place

  55. Swati & Sam (The Tales of a Traveler) Reply

    I have been to Konark Temple multiple times as we dad was posted in Bhubaneswar for 4 years. The Chandrabhanga beach and the drive are the best. The temple is one of the most beautiful temples in India and you have captured it so well in pictures as well as in writing

  56. CHLOE LIN Reply

    Incredible architecture! Can’t believe how massive it is. I feel like i’m watching an ancient movie!

  57. April Reply

    The legends are so interesting!! I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing and will definitely visit Konark Sun Temple in the future!

  58. Corinne Reply

    What a beautiful temple. I would love to visit it next time I’m in India…which I’m planning a big one for the next couple of years…. can’t wait. This is on the list. Love the beauty of the carvings.

  59. Stephanie (1AdventureTraveler) Reply

    How fascinating the Sun Temple Konark looks. Great historical information about the temple. I would love to visit this temple to see all the amazing structures and carvings. Thanks for sharing! #feetdotravel

  60. Karie Reply

    I’m always spellbound by the architecture of the temples in India. You have described it so well and the pictures/ video is fantastic.Interesting story as well!

  61. Suruchi Reply

    Sandy i was completely lost in your narration and for minutes the feelings was that i am seeing konark tenple live. I loved how you narrated the story. Everything looks miraculous there and even i am left with thoughts and so many questions . Really amazing!

  62. Reshma Reply

    Wow! What a fabulous temple this is. Apart from reading in history books in school and admiring at the pictures of Konark temple, I haven’t done much – I mean the actual traveling! Hope to check this off my list soon. I love the legends the temple holds – Whether they are true or not, it’s always fascinating to listen to them and get lost in the old world!

  63. Nathan Reply

    I love visiting World Heritage sites when I travel. This one certainly looks interesting. I love all of the history behind it and the erotic sculptures are interesting.

  64. Kenneth Reply

    Wow..this place is overwhelming. So much art and history. I always get fascinated with such place.

  65. Pratap Reply

    What a lovely and interesting post. The temple is really magnificent.

  66. Kasia Reply

    There are so many hidden gems in India, it would take me years to discover most of them. I have never been to India but its my dream. Its a country of an amazing history, cukture, food and very friendly people.
    This temple looks really beautiful and very detailed- its a real treasure. i totally understand why they call it “Incredible India” 🙂

    Best,
    Kasia

  67. Cai Dominguez Reply

    Very interesting story about this temple. I love the photos. Great architecture very detailed.. This is truly a hidden gem in India. I wish I could visit your country soon.

  68. Tania Mukherjee Reply

    After reading the extremely interesting article on Puri temple it is but obvious that I landed here to check more on Odisha in your blog. My jaw dropped when I read that the magnet is believed to be in Bermuda.

  69. Sanchay Khatri Reply

    This Post Is Really on another level just read line by line all Article 1 min ago , Dharmapada is Really a great guy Good Because he had done which 1000s of artist can able to do. I will share this with my mom too she might too like that thnx.

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