Konark Sun Temple
Location: Konark
Famous For : Sun Temple
District: Puri
History : Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century Sun Temple (also known as the Black Pagoda at Konark, in Odisha. It was supposedly built by king Narasimhadeva I of Eastern Ganga Dynasty around 1250. It has been built in the shape of a gigantic chariot with elaborately carved stone wheels, pillars and walls. A major part of the structure is now in ruins. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also featured on NDTV's list of Seven Wonders of India and Times of India's list of Seven Wonders of India. The name Konark derives from the combination of the Sanskrit words, Kona (corner) and Arka (sun), in reference to the temple which was dedicated to the Sun god Surya.The temple was originally built at the mouth of the river Chandrabhaga, but the waterline has receded since then. The temple has been built in the form of a giant ornamented chariot of the Sun god, Surya. It has twelve pairs of elaborately carved stone wheels which are 3 meters wide and is pulled by a set of seven horses (4 on the right and 3 on the left).The temple follows the traditional style of Kalinga architecture. It is carefully oriented towards the east so that the first rays of sunrise strikes the principal entrance.The temple is built from Khondalite rocks. The original temple had a main sanctum sanctorum (vimana), which was supposedly 229 feet (70 m) tall. Due to the weight of the super structure (70m tall) and weak soil of the area the main vimana fell in 1837. The audience hall (Jagamohana), which is about 128 feet (30 m) tall, still stands and is the principal structure in the surviving ruins. Among the structures, which have survived to the current day, are the dance hall (Nata mandira) and dining hall (Bhoga mandapa).The Konark temple is also known for its erotic sculptures of maithunas. Two smaller ruined temples have been discovered nearby. One of them is called the Mayadevi Temple and is located southwest from the entrance of the main temple. It is presumed to have been dedicated to Mayadevi, one of the Sun god's wives. It has been dated to the late 11th century, earlier than the main temple. The other one belongs to some unknown Vaishnava deity. Sculptures of Balarama, Varaha and Trivikrama have been found at the site, indicating it to be a Vaishnavite temple. Both temples have their primary idols missing. A collection of fallen sculptures can be viewed at the Konark Archaeological Museum which is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The current temple is attributed to Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. His reign spanned from 1238 to 1264 CE. The temple may have been a monument to his victory against Tughral Tughan Khan. According to local folklore, Narasimhadeva I had hired a chief architect called Bisu Maharana to build the temple. After a period of twelve years, a workforce of twelve thousand almost finished the construction. But, they failed to mount the crown stone. The impatient king ordered the temple to be finished in three days or the artisans be put to death. At the time, Bisu Maharana's twelve year old son, Dharmapada arrived at the site. Bisu Maharana had never seen his son, as he had left his village when his wife was still pregnant. Dharmapada successfully proposed a solution to mount the crown stone. But, the artisans were still apprehensive that the king will be displeased to learn that a boy succeeded where his best artisans failed. Dharmapada climbed onto the temple and leapt into the water to save his father and his co-workers.
How to Reach : Konark is one of the most prominent cities of Odisha. It is very famous tourist destination, especially for those who are traveling from eastern or southern part of India. The suitable way to get to Konark is drive either from Puri (33km) or Bhubaneswar (65km). The best time to visit Konark is from October to March. The airport is at Bhubaneswar, which is about 64 km away. It is linked with Kolkata, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, and Nagpur and operates several direct flights. Konark is well connected with National highways and State highways linking road. The railway stations nearest to Konark are situated in the twin cities of Puri and Bhubaneswar.

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