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Sun Temple, Konark

The magnificent Sun Temple at Konark is the culmination of Orissan temple architecture, and one of the most stunning monuments of religious architecture in the world. Built by the King Narasimhadeva in the thirteenth century, the entire temple was designed in the shape of a  colossal chariot  with seven horses and twelve wheels, carrying the sun god, Surya,  across the  heavens. Surya  has been  a  popular   deity  in   India  since  the  Vedic period .

Konark, the seat of World famous Sun Temple, located in the District of Puri, forms one of the three points of the  "Golden Triangle of Tourism"  in the State of Orissa, the other two being Bhubaneswar, the city of Temples and Puri, the abode of Lord Jagannath. This Temple chariot of the Sun God on the golden sands of the Bay of Bengal is a 13th Century architectural marvel. To-day Konark is not merely a symbol of Orissa's great architectural craftsmanship, it is also the most sought after centre of attraction for tourists all over the World. It's serene atmosphere coupled with a quiet but majestic sea-shore is today regarded as an ideal place for holidaying by domestic as well as foreign tourists.

Konark is situated at comfortable distance from the famous religious and tourist centre of Puri (35 K.M.) and the capital city of Bhubaneswar (65 K.M.)

"Konarka" , the place bears a name composed of two World elements : Kona meaning corner and ARKA meaning the Sun.

The Sun god worshipped in Ark Kshetra is also called Konark. In 'Brahma Purana' the Sun God in Ark-kshetra has been described as Konaditya. So it is evident that the place where the Kona aditya (or Kona-arka, the Sun god) was worshipped was also popularly called Konark

It is described in Purusottam Mahatmya that Lord Vishnu after killing the demon Gayasur, to commemorate the glory of his victory, placed his Sankha (cronch) in Puri, Chakra (disc) in Bhubaneswar, Gada (mace) in Jajapur and Padma (lotus) in Konark and they were later known as Sankha Kshetra, Chakra Kshetra, Gada Kshetra and Padma Kshetra respectively.

This corner on the east  sea coast houses the ruins of a temple, exquisitely built to resemble a gigantic chariot with impeccably carved wheels , columns and panels. It stands as a mute reminder of the times when Orissan architecture has reached its pinnacle
The main Temple was called by European sailers "The Black Pagoda" as it formed an important landmark for them in their coastal voyage. Contrasting to this , the white washed Temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri was known as the white pagoda.


It was dedicated to the Sun-God(Arka) popularly called   Biranchi-Narayan, and the tract in which it is situated was known as Arka-Kshetra as well as padma-kshetra. Among the five great religious zones  or Kshetra which were located in Orissa, Konark was considered to be one, the other four being Puri, Bhubaneswar, Mahavinayak, and Jajpur. There are a number of smaller shrines situated in the neighbourhood of the sun temple. In them are found Rameswar,Chitreswara,Tribeniswara,and Utpaleswar, all Siva-lingas and Ramachandi Rudrani,Khileswari,Charchika and Chitreswari,various forms of goddes Durga.Legends embodied in the Kapila samhita, the Madala Panji, and the Prachi-mahatmya, take the sanctity of Konark back to mythical times. The legends of these late texts are an obvious adaptation of a much earlier tradition as recorded in the Bhavisya  Purana and the Samba Purana.

According to mythology,Samba,son of Lord Krishna was smitten with leprosy due to the curse of Lord Krishna.Samba for twelve years underwent severe penance at Mitravana near the confluence of Chandrabhaga river with the sea at Konark and ultimately succeeded in pleasing the God Surya, the healer of all skin diseases and was cured of his illness. n gratitude, he decided to erect a temple in the honour of Surya. The day following his cure, while Samba was bathing in the Chandrabhaga he discovered an image of the God, which had been fashioned out of Surya's body by Viswakarma.Samba installed this image in a temple built by him in Mitravana,where he propitiated the God.Since then throughout the ages this place has been regarded as sacred"

A shallow pool of water is known as the Chandrabhaga, where even now crowds of pilgrims take a purificatory bath before sun rise on the seventh day of the bright half of the month of Magha (January-February).A fair also takes place on this occasion. Once in the year the deserted holy place of Surya thus throbs with religious emotion. This is likely a survival of an ancient practice following the construction of the temple. Magha-Saptami is mentioned in the Madala Panji as one of the festival of this holy centre.It is also referred to the Brahma Purnima in connection with the description of Konark.

As the legend says that, 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 onlooker. 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.

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