Konark

Konark

Overview
Konark is a small town in Puri district
Puri District
Puri being a coastal district of Orissa, is famous for its Historic antiquities, Religious sanctuaries, Architectural Grandeur, Sea-scape beauty,moderate climate.It holds a wealth of attraction for the visitors. It boasts of a continuous history from the 3rd Century B.C...

 in the state of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, on the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

, sixty-five kilometers from Bhubaneswar
Bhubaneswar
Bhubaneswar is the capital of the Indian state of Orissa, officially Odisha. The city has a long history of over 2000 years starting with Chedi dynasty who had Sisupalgarh near present-day Bhubaneswar as their capital...

. It is the site of the 13th-century Sun Temple
Konark Sun Temple
Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century Sun Temple , at Konark, in Orissa. It was constructed from oxidized and weathered ferruginous sandstone by King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The temple is an example of Orissan architecture of Ganga dynasty...

 (also known as the Black Pagoda), built in black granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 by King Narasimhadeva-I (AD 1236-1264) of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty
Eastern Ganga dynasty
The Eastern Ganga dynasty reigned from Kalinga and their rule consisted of the whole of the modern day Indian state of Orissa as well as parts of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh from the 11th century to the early 15th century. Their capital was known by the name Kalinganagar, which is...

. The temple is a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

. It takes the form of the chariot
Chariot
The chariot is a type of horse carriage used in both peace and war as the chief vehicle of many ancient peoples. Ox carts, proto-chariots, were built by the Proto-Indo-Europeans and also built in Mesopotamia as early as 3000 BC. The original horse chariot was a fast, light, open, two wheeled...

 of Surya
Surya
Surya Suraya or Phra Athit is the chief solar deity in Hinduism, one of the Adityas, son of Kasyapa and one of his wives, Aditi; of Indra; or of Dyaus Pitar . The term Surya also refers to the Sun, in general. Surya has hair and arms of gold...

 (Arka), the Sun God, and is heavily decorated with stone carving. The entire complex was designed in the form of a huge chariot drawn by seven spirited horses on twelve pairs of exquisitely decorated wheels.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Konark'
Start a new discussion about 'Konark'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Konark is a small town in Puri district
Puri District
Puri being a coastal district of Orissa, is famous for its Historic antiquities, Religious sanctuaries, Architectural Grandeur, Sea-scape beauty,moderate climate.It holds a wealth of attraction for the visitors. It boasts of a continuous history from the 3rd Century B.C...

 in the state of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, on the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

, sixty-five kilometers from Bhubaneswar
Bhubaneswar
Bhubaneswar is the capital of the Indian state of Orissa, officially Odisha. The city has a long history of over 2000 years starting with Chedi dynasty who had Sisupalgarh near present-day Bhubaneswar as their capital...

. It is the site of the 13th-century Sun Temple
Konark Sun Temple
Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century Sun Temple , at Konark, in Orissa. It was constructed from oxidized and weathered ferruginous sandstone by King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The temple is an example of Orissan architecture of Ganga dynasty...

 (also known as the Black Pagoda), built in black granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 by King Narasimhadeva-I (AD 1236-1264) of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty
Eastern Ganga dynasty
The Eastern Ganga dynasty reigned from Kalinga and their rule consisted of the whole of the modern day Indian state of Orissa as well as parts of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh from the 11th century to the early 15th century. Their capital was known by the name Kalinganagar, which is...

. The temple is a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

. It takes the form of the chariot
Chariot
The chariot is a type of horse carriage used in both peace and war as the chief vehicle of many ancient peoples. Ox carts, proto-chariots, were built by the Proto-Indo-Europeans and also built in Mesopotamia as early as 3000 BC. The original horse chariot was a fast, light, open, two wheeled...

 of Surya
Surya
Surya Suraya or Phra Athit is the chief solar deity in Hinduism, one of the Adityas, son of Kasyapa and one of his wives, Aditi; of Indra; or of Dyaus Pitar . The term Surya also refers to the Sun, in general. Surya has hair and arms of gold...

 (Arka), the Sun God, and is heavily decorated with stone carving. The entire complex was designed in the form of a huge chariot drawn by seven spirited horses on twelve pairs of exquisitely decorated wheels. The entrance is guarded by two lions, which are each shown crushing a war elephant. Each elephant in turn lies on top of a human body. The temple symbolises the majestic stride of the Sun god. At the entrance of the temple is a Nata Mandir (Dancing Hall). This is where the temple dancers used to perform dances in homage to the Sun god. All around the temple, there are various floral and geometric patterns. There are also human, divine and semi-divine figures in sensuous poses. The poses contains couples in various amorous poses, and are derived from the Kama Sutra
Kama Sutra
The Kama Sutra is an ancient Indian Hindu text widely considered to be the standard work on human sexual behavior in Sanskrit literature written by Vātsyāyana. A portion of the work consists of practical advice on sexual intercourse. It is largely in prose, with many inserted anustubh poetry verses...

. The temple is now partly in ruins, and a collection of its sculptures is housed in the Sun Temple Museum, which is run by the Archaeological Survey of India
Archaeological Survey of India
The Archaeological Survey of India is a department of the Government of India, attached to the Ministry of Culture . The ASI is responsible for archaeological studies and the preservation of archaeological heritage of the country in accordance with the various acts of the Indian Parliament...

. The poet Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore , sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali polymath who reshaped his region's literature and music. Author of Gitanjali and its "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse", he became the first non-European Nobel laureate by earning the 1913 Prize in Literature...

 wrote of Konark: "Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man." Konark literally means “Essence of the Corners”.

Konark is also home to an annual dance festival called Konark Dance Festival, held every December, devoted to classical Indian dance forms, including the traditional classical dance of Orissa, Odissi
Odissi
Odissi, also spelled Orissi , is one of the eight classical dance forms of India. It originates from the state of Orissa, in eastern India. It is the oldest surviving dance form of India on the basis of archaeological evidences. The classic treatise of Indian dance, Natya Shastra, refers to it as...

.

On 16th of February 1980, Konark lay directly on the path of a total solar eclipse.

Konark beach is a popular tourist destination, though the waters are deceptively calm. Its main attraction lies in its views of the temple.

The Sun Temple



The Sun Temple, built in the thirteenth century, was conceived as a gigantic chariot of the Sun God
Surya
Surya Suraya or Phra Athit is the chief solar deity in Hinduism, one of the Adityas, son of Kasyapa and one of his wives, Aditi; of Indra; or of Dyaus Pitar . The term Surya also refers to the Sun, in general. Surya has hair and arms of gold...

, Surya, with twelve pairs of exquisitely ornamented wheels pulled by seven horses. Majestic in conception, this temple is indeed one of the most sublime monuments of India, famous as much for its imposing dimensions and faultless proportions as for the harmonious integration of architectural grandeur with plastic allegiance. It is admittedly the best in Orissa. Its fine traceries and scrollwork, as well as the beautiful and natural cut of animal and human figures, give it a superiority over other temples.

The Sun temple belongs to the Kalinga School of Indian Temples with characteristic curvilinear towers mounted by cupolas.The Main Sanctum (229 ft. high) which was constructed along with the Audience Hall (128 ft. high) having elaborate external projections. The Main Sanctum which enshrined the presiding deity has fallen off. The Audience Hall survives in its entirely, but only small portions of the Dancing Hall (Nata Mandir) and the Dining Hall (Bhoga-Mandap) have survived the vagaries of time. The Temple compound measures 857 ft (261.2 m) by 540 ft (164.6 m)

The alignment of the Sun Temple is along the East-West direction. The Temple is located in natural surroundings, abounding with casuarina plantations and other types of trees, which grow on sandy soil. The environment is by and large unspoiled. Gentle undulating topography around the Sun Temple lends some variation to the landscape. Konark is also home to an annual dance festival, held every December, devoted to Classical Indian dance forms, including the traditional classical dance of Orissa, Odissi.

Besides Konark there is also another Sun Temple in Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

 called Biranchi Narayan Sun Temple
Biranchi Narayan Sun Temple
The Biranchi Narayan Sun Temple, also known as the Abode of Viranchinarayana or the Wooden Konark, is a Hindu Temple located in the town of Buguda in Ganjam, Orissa.This the second Surya temple constructed in Orissa, after the famous Konark Sun Temple....

 (Biranchi Narayan Temple) in Buguda
Buguda
Buguda is a town and a notified area committee in Ganjam district in the state of Orissa, India. It is also situated in Ghumusara province.-Geography:Buguda is located at . It has an average elevation of 84 metres .-Demographics:...

, Ganjam District.

The stones at Konark are not joined by any limestone or cement. Instead, they are joined in a unique manner by making the two stone plates so polished like glass plate that just one drop of gum can join the two stones.

Incomplete temple


It is opined by some historians that, due to the early death of the king Langula Narasimha Dev, builder of the Konarak temple, the construction of the temple had been left in a haphazard state. As a result of this, the incomplete structure eventually collapsed. But this view is unsupported by historical data. The records of Madala Panji of Puri Jagannath temple, as well as from some copper plates dated 1278 A.D., state that the king Langula Narasimha Dev reigned till 1282. Many historians are of the opinion that the construction of the Konark temple was completed between 1253 and 1260 A.D. So the argument that the temple collapsed due to non-completion during construction is not tenable.

Lodestone


Legends describe a lodestone
Lodestone
A lodestone or loadstone is a naturally magnetized piece of the mineral magnetite. They are naturally occurring magnets, that attract pieces of iron. Ancient people first discovered the property of magnetism in lodestone...

 on the top of the Sun temple. Due to its magnetic effects, vessels passing through the Konark sea were drawn to it, resulting in heavy damage. Other legends state that magnetic effects of the lodestone disturbed ships' compasses so that they did not function correctly. To save their shipping, the Portuguese voyagers took away the lodestone, which was acting as the central stone and keeping all the stones, and the iron columns used to hold them walls together, of the temple wall in balance. Due to its displacement, the temple walls lost their balance and eventually fell down. But there is no record of this occurrence in any historical records, nor is there any record of the existence of such a powerful lodestone at Konark.

According to Legend the image of the deity or the statue of the Sun God was built of a material with iron content with 1 large magnet on top of the temple, 1 in the basement and 4 large magnets in the interiors to make the statue hang / float /suspend in air. The question remains though is how the magnets retained their effect over time as all magnetic materials loose their magnetic strength over time

Kalapahad


The most popular theory about the root of the fall of Konark temple rests with the Kalapahad. According to the history of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, Kalapahad invaded Orissa in 1508. He destroyed Konark temple, as well as a number of Hindu temples in Orissa. The Madala Panji of Puri Jagannath temple describes how Kalapahad attacked Orissa in 1568. Including Konark temple, he broke most of the images in most of the Hindu temples in Orissa. Though it was impossible to break the Sun temple of Konark, the stone walls of which are of 20 feet (6.1 m) to 25 feet (7.6 m) thick, he somehow managed to displace the Dadhinauti (Arch stone) and thus made a way for the temple to collapse. He also broke most of the images and other side temples of Konark. Due to displacement of the Dadhinauti, the temple gradually collapsed and the roof of the Mukasala was also damaged, due to the stones falling down from the temple top.

Consequently, Orissa came under Muslim control in 1568. There were attempts to destroy the Hindu temples. The Pandas of Puri, to save the sanctity of the Puri temple, took away the Jagannath from the temple and kept the image in a secret place. Similarly, it is said that the Pandas of Konark took away the presiding deity of the Sun temple and buried it under the sand for years. Latter on the image was said to have been removed to Puri and kept in the temple of Indra, in the compound of the Puri Jagannath temple. According to others, the Puja image of the Konark temple is yet to be discovered. But others hold the view that the Sun image now kept in the National Museum of Delhi was the presiding deity of the Konark Sun temple.

However, the Sun worship in the Konark temple was ended upon the removal of the image from the temple. This resulted in the end of pilgrimages to Konark. The port at Konark was also closed, due to pirate attacks. Konark was as glorious a city for Sun worship as it was for commercial activities, but after the cessation of these activities, Konark became deserted and was left to be enveloped by a dense forest over the years.

In 1626, the then king of Khurda (now a district in Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

), Raja Narasimha Dev, son of Purusottam Dev, took away the Sun image to Puri along with two other moving deities - Sun and Moon. Now they are found in a temple in the compound of Puri Jagannath temple.

It is recorded in the Madala Panji of Puri temple that in 1028, Raja Narasimha Dev ordered measurements to be taken of all the temples at Konark. At the time of measurement, the Sun temple was in existence up to its Amalak sila, i.e. about 200 feet (61 m) in height. Kalapahad had only destroyed its Kalas, the crowning stone and the Padma-Dhwaja, the lotus finial and the upper portions.

As described earlier there was a big block of stone called Navagraha Paata placed in front of the Mukhasala. The then king of Khurda removed the block. The king had taken away many sculptured stones from Konark and constructed some portions of Puri temple with them. During Maratha's time the outer compound wall of the Puri temple was constructed of stones from Konark temple.

It is reported that among all the temples the Naata Mandir or the Dancing hall of Konark was in its original form for the longest period, and that it was broken intentionally since it was considered an unnecessary structure during the Maratha administration.

In the year 1779, a Maratha Sadhu had taken away the Aruna Khumba (Pillar) from Konark and put it in front of the Lion's Gate of Puri Jagannath temple. Thus by the end of 18th century, Konark lost all its glories and had been turned to a dense forest. In course of time, the temple area thus became devoid of people, covered with dense forest, filled with sand, overrun by wild animals and became the abode of pirates. It is said that even the locals feared to go to Konark in broad daylight.

All these theories with the detailed explanations are given in Pt. Sada Shiv Rathsharma's book titled Sun Temple of Konark, which initiated further research works on the Konark Temple thereby fetching him the Padmashree award and perhaps the first for an Oriya. All further writings have been a subset of this book and no other theory has been proposed.

Legends



King Narasimha Deva-I of the Ganga Dynasty had ordered this temple to be built as a royal proclamation of the political supremacy of his dynasty. A workforce of 12 hundred artisans and architects invested their creative talent, energy and artistic commitment for an exhausting period of 12 years. The king had already spent an amount equivalent to the state's revenue receipts of 12 years. However, the completion of the construction was nowhere near sight. Then the king issued a final command that the work be completed by a stipulated date. The team of architects headed by Bisu Maharana was at its wit's end. It was then that Dharmapada the 12 year old son of the chief architect Bisu Maharana arrived there as a visiting on looker. He became aware of the anxiety looming large among the architects. Although he did not have any practical experience of temple construction, he was thorough in his study of the theories of temple architecture. He offered to solve the confounding problem of fixing the last copping stone at the top of the temple. He surprised everyone by doing that himself. But soon after this achievement the dead body of this adolescent prodigy was found on the sea beach at the foot of the temple. Legend says that Dharmapada laid down his life to save his community.

The victorious King of Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

, Narasimhadeva erected a victory pillar designed as a war chariot. This temple was dedicated to Surya the Sun god, at a location near the temple town of Puri. He named this place Konark which means “Essence of the Corners” While the structure commemorates the victory in the battle against the Muslims, the name Konark commemorates the science of astronomy of which the King was an avid student.

Nearby tourist spots

  • Chandrabhaga
    Chandrabhaga
    Chandrabhaga may refer to:* Chenab River in Punjab* Bhima River near Pandharpur, Maharashtra...

     3.5 km From Konark Temple
  • Ramachandi 8 km From Konark Temple
  • Bhagabati Temple, Konark 2 km From Konark Temple
  • Kuruma 6 km From Konark Temple
  • Puri
    Puri
    Puri is district headquarter, a city situated about south of state capital Bhubaneswar, on the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal in the Indian state of Orissa. It is also known as Jagannath Puri after the Jagannath Temple . It is a holy city of the Hindus as a part of the Char Dham pilgrimages...

     35 km From Konark Temple
  • Beleswar
    Beleswar
    Site of a Shaivite shrine, Beleswar, located 15 km from Puri, has an interesting beach.The road from the Jagannath Temple up to the beach is covered with thick casuarina trees where travelers can watch the beautiful sunset, which dips into the sea...

  • Chilika 70 km From Konark Temple
  • Bhubaneswar
    Bhubaneswar
    Bhubaneswar is the capital of the Indian state of Orissa, officially Odisha. The city has a long history of over 2000 years starting with Chedi dynasty who had Sisupalgarh near present-day Bhubaneswar as their capital...

  • Gopalpur Beach
  • Kenduli Sasan
    Kenduli Sasan
    Kenduli Sasan in Khurda district is the birth place of the Sanskrit lyricist, Jayadeva. Medieval Indian literature refer to this place by the name Kenduvilva.-Location:...


Demographics


As of 2001 India census
Census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

, Konark had a population of 15,015. Males constitute 52% of the population and females 48%. Konark has an average literacy rate of 57%, lower than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 64%, and female literacy is 49%. In Konark, 14% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Further reading

  • G.C. Chauley, Sun Temple of Konark: History and Preservation ISBN 978-81-86867-73-0
  • Ranjan Kumar Singh, Surya: The God and His Abode ISBN 81-903561-7-8

External links