Temple of Surya, Konarak

Temple of Surya, Konarak


Konark is a medium town in the Puri district in the state of Odisha, India. It lies on the coast by the Bay of Bengal, 60 kilometres from the capital of the state, Bhubaneswar. [1] It is the site of the 13th-century Sun Temple, also known as the Black Pagoda, built in black granite during the reign of Narasimhadeva-I. The temple is a World Heritage Site. [2] The temple is now mostly in ruins, and a collection of its sculptures is housed in the Sun Temple Museum, which is run by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Konark is also home to an annual dance festival called Konark Dance Festival, devoted to classical Indian dance forms, including the traditional classical dance of Odisha, Odissi. [3] In February 2019, the Konark Dance Festival (now called Konark Music and Dance Festival) will be hosting its 33rd edition. The state government is also organising annual Konark Festival and International Sand Art Festival [4] at Chandrabhaga Beach of Konark.

On 16 February 1980, Konark lay directly on the path of a total solar eclipse [5] [6] [7]

Konark Sun Temple of Orissa – 13th Century Temple

This temple is dedicated to Surya, the sun god, as well as Lord Brahma. Located at the Konark village of Orissa in India, this temple is listed as the World Heritage site since 1984.

The History

It is said to be built by East Ganga King Narasimhadeva in order to pride the military successes against Muslim invaders in 1250 AD. The locals believe that the power of the temple lies in the two powerful magnets built in the tower, with which the king’s throne hung in mid-air. European mariners dubbed it as the “Black Pagoda” because the magnet was so powerful that it changed the tidal patterns, according to some legends.

During the 15 th century, the Muslim Yavana army sacked Konarak. The central statue of the temple was also smuggled away to Puri by priests since the temple was badly damaged to the attack. Following that, the temple has been under harsh conditions with nature destroying much of its parts. The sea receded, the sand engulfed the building and salty breezes eroded the stone.

Until the 20 th century, it had been buried under the sand when the British started restoring it. The British archaeologists found the remainings and restored what was possible of the ruins. They also planted some trees to protect it from the damaging winds. Photo by Sandeep M V on 500px.com

According to Earl of Ronaldshay, “the temple is one of the most stupendous buildings in India which rears itself aloft, a pile of overwhelming grandeur even in its decay.”

Things to see at Konark Sun Temple

There is huge chariot for the sun god Surya that has 12 pairs of stone-carved wheels and a team of seven galloping horses. But only one has survived time. Photo by amit patel on 500px.com

The temple shows the passage of time through the spokes and wheels. Photo by koushik pintu on 500px.com

The 12 pairs of wheels represent 12 months of the year, and each spoke in each wheel symbolize eight ideal stages of a woman’s day. The seven horses, on the other hand, shows days of the week. One of the wheels of the chariot design of Konark temple. Photo by ANIL SHARMA on 500px.com

The entrance is on the east side that faces the sea, the front has Hall of Offerings, which was later added. There is a sanctuary tower in the center and a pyramidal roof. The roof has three tiers covered in statues, mostly musicians and dancers. Beyond the porch lies the statue of Surya, which has been carved of green chlorite stone, and is also a masterpiece of Konarak. The sculpture seems to be that of Surya wearing tall riding boots, along with Aruna, the charioteer at his feet. Photo by Abhishek Jain on 500px.com

There are also many erotic scenes Kamasutra carved along the walls and porches. Apart from that, one can see deities, animals, floral patterns, voluptuous women, mythical beasts, and aquatic monsters.

How to get there

You can either take the regular bus or a jeep to Konark from Puri. It’s 33km drive and takes about an hour. The last bus leaves at 6.30 pm.

Or, you can also take an auto-rickshaw that costs for Rs. 250-300 round trip.


Legends describe a lodestone on the top of the Sun temple. Due to its magnetic effects, vessels passing through the Konark sea felt drawn to it, resulting in heavy damage. Other legends state about observing near the Konark sun temple magnet like effects of the lodestone that disturbed ships’ compasses so that they malfunctioned. To save their shipping, the Muslim voyagers took away the lodestone, which acted as the central stone, keeping all the stones of the temple wall in balance. Due to its displacement, the temple walls lost their balance and eventually fell down. But records of that occurrence, or of such a powerful lodestone at Konark, have never been found. And thus, the lodestone adds to the Konark sun temple mystery list.

Kalapahad, a name that hides Konark Sun Temple history within

The most popular theory about the root of the fall of the Konark sun temple rests with the Kalapahad. According to the history of Orissa, Kalapahad invaded Orissa in 1508 C.E. He destroyed the Konark sun temple Odisha as well as a number of Hindu temples in Odisha. The Madala Panji of Puri Jagannath temple describes how Kalapahad attacked Orissa in 1568. Including the Konark sun temple, he broke most of the images in most of the Hindu temples in Orissa. Though impossible to break the Sun temple of Konark, with stone walls 20 to 25 feet thick, he somehow managed to displace the Dadhinauti (Arch stone) and thus weaken the temple leading to its collapse. He also broke most of the images as well as side temples of Konark. Due to displacement of the Dadhinauti, the temple gradually collapsed and the roof of the Mukasala suffered damaged, due to the stones falling down from the temple top.

Consequently, Orissa came under Muslim control in 1568 C.E., resulting in frequent attempts to destroy the Hindu temples. The Pandas of Puri, to save the sanctity of the Puri temple, took away the Lord Jagannath from the Srimandir and kept the image in a secret place. Similarly, the Pandas of Konark removed the presiding deity of the Konark Sun temple and buried it under the sand for years. Later, reports say the image had been removed to Puri and kept in the temple of Indra, in the compound of the Puri Jagannath temple. According to some, the Puja image of the Konark temple remains to be discovered. But others hold the view that the Sun image now kept in the National Museum of Delhi constitutes the presiding deity of the Konark Sun temple.

The Sun worship in the Konark sun temple, including pilgrimages, ended with the removal of the image from the temple. The port at Konark closed due to pirate attacks. Konark renowned for Sun worship matched its fame in commercial activities, but after the Sun Temple ceased to attract the faithful, Konark became deserted, left to disappear in dense forests for years.

In 1626, king of Khurda, Raja Narasimha Dev, son of Purusottam Dev, took away the Sun image to Puri along with two other moving deities—Sun and Moon. They have appeared in a temple in the compound of Puri Jagannath temple.

The Madala Panji of Puri temple has recorded that in 1028, Raja Narasimha Dev ordered measurements taken of all the temples at Konark. At the time of measurement, the Sun temple construction reached Amalak sila, i.e. about 200 feet 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, a gigantic block of stone called Navagraha Paata had been placed in front of the Mukhasala. King of Khurda removed the block, taking away many Konark sun temple sculptures and constructed some portions of Puri temple with them as well. During Marahatta’s reign, the outer compound wall of the Puri temple had been constructed with stones from the Konark sun temple.

Reportedly, among all the temples, the Naata Mandir or the Dancing hall of Konark has been in its original form for the longest period. Considered an unnecessary, the Maharaja administration broke structure intentionally.

In the year 1779 C.E., a Marhatta Sadhu had taken away the Arun Pillar from Konark and put it in front of the Lion’s Gate of Puri Jagannath temple. Thus, by the end of the eighteenth century, Konark lost its glory, turning into a dense forest, full of sand, filled with wild animals and the abode of pirates. Reportedly, even the locals feared to go to Konark in broad daylight.


The name Konark derives from the combination of the Sanskrit words Kona (corner or angle) and Arka (the sun). [9] The context of the term Kona is unclear, but probably refers to the southeast location of this temple either within a larger temple complex or in relation to other sun temples on the subcontinent. [12] The Arka refers to the Hindu sun god Surya. [9]

The Sun temple of Konark, The Puri Jagannth Temple and The Lingaraj Temple of Bhubaneswar form a bilateral triangle and Konark temple is one Kone (angular point of a triangle). Thus the word 'Kone' has a meaning in making the nomenclature.

Temple is located in an eponymous village (now NAC Area) about 35 kilometres (22 mi) northeast of Puri and 65 kilometres (40 mi) southeast of Bhubaneswar on the Bay of Bengal coastline in the Indian state of Odisha. The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar airport. Both Puri and Bhubaneswar are major railway hubs connected by Indian Railways'

The Konark Sun Temple was built in 1250 A.D. during the reign of the Eastern Ganga King Narsimhadeva-1 from stone in the form of a giant ornamented chariot dedicated to the Sun god, Surya. In Hindu Vedic iconography Surya is represented as rising in the east and traveling rapidly across the sky in a chariot drawn by seven horses. He is described typically as a resplendent standing person holding a lotus flower in both his hands, riding the chariot marshaled by the charioteer Aruna. [13] [14] The seven horses are named after the seven meters of Sanskrit prosody: Gayatri, Brihati, Ushnih, Jagati, Trishtubha, Anushtubha, and Pankti. [14] Typically seen flanking Surya are two females who represent the dawn goddesses, Usha and Pratyusha. The goddesses are shown to be shooting arrows, a symbol of their initiative in challenging the darkness. [15] The architecture is also symbolic, with the chariot's twelve pairs of wheels corresponding to the 12 months of the Hindu calendar, each month paired into two cycles (Shukla and Krishna). [16]

The Konark temple presents this iconography on a grand scale. It has 24 elaborately carved stone wheels which are nearly 12 feet (3.7 m) in diameter and are pulled by a set of seven horses. [5] [2] [17] When viewed from inland during the dawn and sunrise, the chariot-shaped temple appears to emerge from the depths of the blue sea carrying the sun. [18]

The temple plan includes all the traditional elements of a Hindu temple set on a square plan. According to Kapila Vatsyayan, the ground plan, as well the layout of sculptures and reliefs, follow the square and circle geometry, forms found in Odisha temple design texts such as the Silpasarini. [19] This mandala structure informs the plans of other Hindu temples in Odisha and elsewhere. [19]

The main temple at Konark, locally called the deul, no longer exists. It was surrounded by subsidiary shrines containing niches depicting Hindu deities, particularly Surya in many of his aspects. The deul was built on a high terrace. [5] The temple was originally a complex consisting of the main sanctuary, called the rekha deul, or bada deul (lit. big sanctum). [18] In front of it was the bhadra deul (lit. small sanctum), or jagamohana (lit. assembly hall of the people) (called a mandapa in other parts of India. [20] ). The attached platform was called the pida deul, which consisted of a square mandapa with a pyramidal roof. [18] All of these structures were square at their core, and each was overlain with the pancharatha plan containing a variegated exterior. [18] The central projection, called the raha, is more pronounced than the side projections, called kanika-paga, a style that aims for an interplay of sunlight and shade and adds to the visual appeal of the structure throughout the day. The design manual for this style is found in the Silpa Sastra of ancient Odisha. [18] [21]

Twice as wide as they were high, the walls of the jagamohana are 100 feet (30 m) tall. The surviving structure has three tiers of six pidas each. These diminish incrementally and repeat the lower patterns. The pidas are divided into terraces. On each of these terraces stand statues of musician figures. [5] The main temple and the jagamohana porch consist of four main zones: the platform, the wall, the trunk, and the crowning head called a mastaka. [22] The first three are square while the mastaka is circular. The main temple and the jagamohana differed in size, decorative themes, and design. It was the main temple's trunk, called the gandhi in medieval Hindu architecture texts, that was ruined long ago. The sanctum of the main temple is now without a roof and most of the original parts. [22]

On the east side of the main temple is the Nata mandira (lit. dance temple). It stands on a high, intricately carved platform. The relief on the platform is similar in style to that found on the surviving walls of the temple. [5] According to historical texts, there was an Aruna stambha (lit. Aruna's pillar) between the main temple and the Nata mandira, but it is no longer there because it was moved to the Jagannatha at Puri sometime during the troubled history of this temple. [5] According to Harle, the texts suggest that originally the complex was enclosed within a wall 865 feet (264 m) by 540 feet (160 m), with gateways on three sides. [5]

The sun temple was made from three types of stone. [23] Chlorite was used for the door lintel and frames as well as some sculptures. Laterite was used for the core of the platform and staircases near the foundation. Khondalite was used for other parts of the temple. According to Mitra, the Khondalite stone weathers faster over time, and this may have contributed to erosion and accelerated the damage when parts of the temples were destroyed. [23] None of these stones occur naturally nearby, and the architects and artisans must have procured and moved the stones from distant sources, probably using the rivers and water channels near the site. [23] The masons then created ashlar, wherein the stones were polished and finished so as to make joints hardly visible. [23]

The original temple had a main sanctum sanctorum (vimana), which is estimated to have been 229 feet (70 m) [17] tall. The main vimana fell in 1837. The main mandapa audience hall (jagamohana), which is about 128 feet (39 m) tall, still stands and is the principal structure in the surviving ruins. Among the structures that have survived to the current day are the dance hall (Nata mandira) and the dining hall (Bhoga mandapa). [2] [17]

The walls of the temple from the temple's base through the crowning elements are ornamented with reliefs, many finished to jewelry-quality miniature details. The terraces contain stone statues of male and female musicians holding various musical instruments including the vina, mardala, gini, [24] Other major works of art include sculptures of Hindu deities, apsaras and images from the daily life and culture of the people (artha and dharma scenes), various animals, aquatic creatures, birds, legendary creatures, and friezes narrating the Hindu texts. The carvings include purely decorative geometric patterns and plant motifs. [24] Some panels show images from the life of the king such as one showing him receiving counsel from a guru, where the artists symbolically portrayed the king as much smaller than the guru, with the king's sword resting on the ground next to him. [25]

The upana (moulding) layer at the bottom of the platform contains friezes of elephants, marching soldiers, musicians, and images depicting the secular life of the people, including hunting scenes, a caravan of domesticated animals, people carrying supplies on their head or with the help of a bullock cart, travelers preparing a meal along the roadside, and festive processions. [26] On other walls are found images depicting the daily life of the elite as well as the common people. For example, girls are shown wringing their wet hair, standing by a tree, looking from a window, playing with pets, putting on makeup while looking into a mirror, playing musical instruments such as the vina, chasing away a monkey who is trying to snatch items, a family taking leave of their elderly grandmother who seems dressed for a pilgrimage, a mother blessing her son, a teacher with students, a yogi during a standing asana, a warrior being greeted with a namaste, a mother with her child, an old woman with a walking stick and a bowl in her hands, comical characters, among others. [27]

The Konark temple is also known for its erotic sculptures of maithunas. [28] These show couples in various stages of courtship and intimacy, and in some cases coital themes. Notorious in the colonial era for their uninhibited celebration of sexuality, these images are included with other aspects of human life as well as deities that are typically associated with tantra. This led some to propose that the erotic sculptures are linked to the vama marga (left hand tantra) tradition. [5] However, this is not supported by local literary sources, and these images may be the same kama and mithuna scenes found integrated into the art of many Hindu temples. [5] The erotic sculptures are found on the temple's Shikhara, and these illustrate all the bandhas (mudra forms) described in the Kamasutra. [20]

Other large sculptures were a part of the gateways of the temple complex. These include life-size lions subduing elephants, elephants subduing demons, and horses. A major pillar dedicated to Aruna, called the Aruna Stambha, used to stand in front of the eastern stairs of the porch. This, too, was intricately carved with horizontal friezes and motifs. It now stands in front of the Jagannatha temple at Puri. [29]

Hindu deities Edit

The upper levels and terrace of the Konark Sun temple contain larger and more significant works of art than the lower level. These include images of musicians and mythological narratives as well as sculptures of Hindu deities, including Durga in her Mahishasuramardini aspect killing the shape-shifting buffalo demon (Shaktism), Vishnu in his Jagannatha form (Vaishnavism), and Shiva as a (largely damaged) linga (Shaivism). Some of the better-preserved friezes and sculptures were removed and relocated to museums in Europe and major cities of India before 1940. [30]

The Hindu deities are also depicted in other parts of the temple. For example, the medallions of the chariot wheels of the Surya temple, as well as the anuratha artwork of the jagamohana, show Vishnu, Shiva, Gajalakshmi, Parvati, Krishna, Narasimha, and other divinities. [31] Also found on the jagamohana are sculptures of Vedic deities such as Indra, Agni, Kubera, Varuna, and Âdityas. [32]

Style Edit

The temple follows the traditional style of Kalinga architecture. It is oriented towards the east so that the first rays of the sunrise strike the main entrance. [2] The temple, built from Khondalite rocks, [33] [34] was originally constructed at the mouth of the river Chandrabhaga, but the waterline has receded since then. [ citation needed ] The wheels of the temple are sundials, which can be used to calculate time accurately to a minute. [35]

Other temples and monuments Edit

The Konark Sun Temple complex has ruins of many subsidiary shrines and monuments around the main temple. Some of these include:

  • Mayadevi Temple – Located west- been dated to the late 11th century, earlier than the main temple. [36] It consists of a sanctuary, a mandapa and, before it, an open platform. It was discovered during excavations carried out between 1900 and 1910. Early theories assumed that it was dedicated to Surya's wife and thus named the Mayadevi Temple. However, later studies suggested that it was also a Surya temple, albeit an older one that was fused into the complex when the monumental temple was built. [37] This temple also has numerous carvings and a square mandapa is overlain by a sapta-ratha. The sanctum of this Surya temple features a Nataraja. Other deities in the interior include a damaged Surya holding a lotus, along with Agni, Varuna, Vishnu, and Vayu. [38]
  • Vaishnava Temple – Located southwest of the so-called Mayadevi Temple, it was discovered during excavations in 1956. This discovery was significant because it confirmed that the Konark Sun Temple complex revered all the major Hindu traditions, and was not an exclusive worship place for the saura cult as previously believed. This is a small temple with sculptures of Balarama, Varaha, and Vamana–Trivikrama in its sanctum, marking it as a Vaishnavite temple. These images are shown as wearing dhoti and a lot of jewelry. The sanctum's primary idol is missing, as are images from some niches in the temple. [39] The site's significance as a place of Vaishnavism pilgrimage is attested to in Vaishnava texts. For example, Chaitanya, the early 16th-century scholar and founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, visited the Konark temple and prayed on its premises. [40]
  • Kitchen – This monument is found south of the bhoga mandapa (feeding hall). It, too, was discovered in excavations in the 1950s. It includes means to bring water, cisterns to store water, drains, a cooking floor, depressions in the floor probably for pounding spices or grains, as well several triple ovens (chulahs) for cooking. This structure may have been for festive occasions or a part of a community feeding hall. [41] According to Thomas Donaldson, the kitchen complex may have been added a little later than the original temple. [42]
  • Well 1 – This monument is located north of the kitchen, towards its eastern flank, was probably built to supply water to the community kitchen and bhoga mandapa. Near the well are a pillared mandapa and five structures, some with semi-circular steps whose role is unclear. [43]
  • Well 2 – This monument and associated structures are in the front of the northern staircase of the main temple, with foot rests, a washing platform, and a wash water drain system. It was probably designed for the use of pilgrims arriving at the temple. [44]

A collection of fallen sculptures can be viewed at the Konark Archaeological Museum, which is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. [45] The fallen upper portion of the temple is believed to have been studded with many inscriptions. [46]

Useful Tips

  1. Every year, at the end of January, thousands of pilgrims come to the Sun Temple in Konarak, India to celebrate Paramasura. It is believed that on this day you can meet Surya himself – the god of the Sun. This celebration is very similar to our New Year or Christmas. In the same month, an Indian dance festival takes place in India.
  2. Believers claim that after visiting the Temple of the Sun in India, a person’s life will not be the same, because in everyone’s soul remains a piece of Surya.
  3. Scientists say that the location of the temple in an abnormal place contributes to the fact that a person (especially a pilgrim) ceases to need food and sleep, greatly increases sexual desire. At the same time, it is emphasized that people with a weak mentality are better off not attending the temple at all.
  4. Tourists recommend visiting the Surya temple in Konarak only with a guide. You can hire a guide right at the entrance to the attraction.
  5. Travelers say it is best to visit Surya Temple in the evening, when the last rays of the sun illuminate the ancient walls.

The Sun Temple in Konarak is a great place to recharge your batteries and get to know the culture of India.

Temple of Surya, Konarak - History

The Ultimate Source of Information on Indian Temples

Konark Sun Temple

Abodes of Surya
Temples of Orissa

Konark is one of the well known tourist attractions of Orissa. Konark, Konark houses a colossal temple dedicated to the Sun God. Even in its ruined state it is a magnificient temple reflecting the genius of the architects that envisioned and built it. Bhubaneshwar, Konark and Puri constitute the Golden triangle of Orissa, visited in large numbers by pilgrims and tourists.

Konark is also known as Konaditya. The name Konark is derived form the words Kona - Corner and Arka - Sun it is situated on the north eastern corner of Puri or the Chakrakshetra. Konark is also known as Arkakshetra.

This temple built in 1278 CE by the Ganga King Narasimha Deva is one of the grandest temples of India and was referred to as the Black Pagoda. The ruins of this temple were excavated in late 19th century. The tower over the Garbagriha is missing, however the Jagmohana is intact, and even in this state, it is awe inspiring.

Legend has it that Samba, the king of Krishna and Jambavati entered the bathing chamber of Krishna's wifes, and was cursed by Krishna with leprosy. It was decreed that he would be relieved of the curse by worshipping the sun God on the sea coast north east of Puri. Accordingly Samba reached Konaditya Kshetra and discovered an image of Surya seated on the lotus, worshipped him and was relieved of his curse.

It is said that the temple was not completed as conceived because the foundation was not strong enough to bear the weight of the heavy dome. Local beleif has it that it was constructed in entirety, however its magnetic dome caused ships to crash near the seashore, and that the dome was removed and destroyed and that the image of the Sun God was taken to Puri.

The Temple: The Konark temple is widely known not only for its architectural grandeur but also for the intricacy and profusion of sculptural work. The entire temple has been conceived as a chariot of the sun god with 24 wheels, each about 10 feet in diameter, with a set of spokes and elaborate carvings. Seven horses drag the temple. Two lions guard the entrance, crushing elephants. A flight of steps lead to the main entrance.

The nata mandir in front of the Jagamohana is also intricately carved. Around the base of the temple, and up the walls and roof, are carvings in the erotic style. There are images of animals, foliage, men, warriors on horses and other interesting patterns. There are three images of the Sun God, positioned to catch the rays of the sun at dawn, noon and sunset.

The Melakkadambur Shiva temple, built in the form of a chariot during the age of Kulottunga Chola I (1075-1120), is the earliest of this kind, and is still in a well preserved state. It is believed that this temple set the pace for the ratha (chariot) vimana temples in India, as a distant descendant of Kulottunga I on the female line, and thefamous Eastern Ganga ruler Narasimha Deva, built the Sun Temple at Konark in the form of a chariot in the 13th century. Kulottunga Chola is also credited with having built the Suryanaar temple near Kumbhakonam. Temples dedicated to the Sun are not a common feature in the Tamil speaking region of the Indian subcontinent.

See Also:
Orissa Temple History
Sun Temples in India

Dakshinaarka Temple at Gaya
Sun Temple at Modhera
Bhramanya Dev Temple at Unao

Melakkadambur Shiva Temple
Daarasuram Airavateeswarar Temple

This is why Konark Sun Temple is so famous!

Konark Sun Temple, popularly known as Arkakshetra, is a 13th-century Sun temple located at Odisha’s Konark. It is an architectural marvel of Eastern India and a symbol of India’s heritage.

The temple, also known as Black Pagoda, is located about 35 kilometers northeast from Puri on the coastline of Odisha.

The temple is a monumental representation of the sun god Surya’s gigantic chariot with twelve pairs of exquisitely-ornamented wheels dragged by seven rearing horses.

According to Odisha Tourism, the main sanctum (229 ft. high) 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 of the other two viz the Dancing Hall (Nata Mandir) and the Dining Hall (Bhoga-Mandap), only small portions have survived the vagaries of time. The Temple compound measures 857 ft. by 540 ft.

The place popularly known as Konark Surya Mandir has been attracting thousands of visitors from different parts of the world.

Dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya, it is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1984.

The 13th-century monument at present is in a state of ruin. However, it continues to attract thousands of tourists for its architectural beauty that testify the boundless creativity of the Orissan artists and their contribution to the treasury of Indian art and building technique. The Konark temple images are fascinating.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been entrusted for the conservation of the temple.

What Konark stand for?

The name Konark is derived from the name of the presiding deity Konark, which means the Arka (sun) of Kona (corner). The Kona or corner is presumably so being in relation to Trikona, in the corner direction of which the temple was erected.

Myths and folklore have it that the Konark Sun Temple was originally built on the mouth of a river named Chandrabhaga but in the course of time the river has dried up. The present shoreline is nearly about 3 km from the temple.

Konark temple history and facts

Narasimha Deva I, popularly known as Langula Narasimha, (AD 1238-1264), the great Ganga monarch whose kingdom was extended from the Ganga in the north to the Godavari in the south is credited to have constructed the colossal Konark Surya Mandir (Konark Sun temple).

Although there is no mention of it in records of Narasimha himself, a copper plate inscription (verse 86) of Narasimha II, dating to Saka year 1217 (1295 AD) records that “king Narasimha built at Kona-Kona, a place of great renown, a temple for the Sun to live in with the other gods” which is also repeated in the laudatory verses of succeeding Ganga rulers.

King Narasimha of the verse has been taken to be Narasimha I of the Ganga dynasty, who, according to chronology ruled in Orissa from 1238 AD to 1264 AD. In literature and tradition, Narasimha-I is referred to as Langula Narasimha.

In the Madala Panji, it is recorded that Langula Narasimha Deva laid the foundation of the temple in the thirdanka. It is also mentioned that he appointed Shivai Samantara Mahapatra as superintendent for building the temple.

The image of Surya was installed on Sunday, the seventh day of Magha Sukla Paksha (Magha Shukla Saptami), 1258 AD.

It is believed that 1200 artisans completed the grand monument after 12 long years and the consecration of the temple was held on Sunday which falls on Magha Shukla Saptami. The name of the chief architect was Bishu Maharana.

Myths and mystery associated with Konark Sun Temple

According to Puranas, Samba, son of Sri Krishna and Jambavati was overly proud of his handsome appearance and once ridiculed the divine sage Narada. Narada who even ordinarily was known as a mischief-maker, took recourse to an unsaintly scheme to avenge himself. By a cunning device he led Samba to the secret bathing place of his stepmothers who were struck with his personal charm and wanted to enjoy his company. Slipping quietly, Narada led Krishna to this spot. Incensed at his son’s apparent lack of propriety, Krishna cursed him to be smitten with leprosy which would obviously affect his beauty.

Panic-stricken Samba pleaded his innocence, but as the curse could not be withdrawn, he was advised to practice penance in the Maitreyavana/ Mitravana, near the Chandrabhaga river for 12 years to propitiate Surya (Sun God), the healer of all skin diseases to cure him of his disease.

Samba acted upon the advice. After 12 years of severe penance, Samba succeeded in pleasing the Sun God and was cured of his illness. In gratitude, he decided then and there to erect a temple in honour of God.

The next morning, while Samba was taking bath in the Chandrabhaga, he discovered an image of Surya standing on a lotus pedestal holding two lotuses in both hands.

He carried the image to his Ashrama (hermitage in the Mitravana) and installed it in a temple built by him.

According to the Bhavishya Purana, as the local Brahmins did not agree to worship the image, Samba brought eighteen Maga/ Magha families (the sun worshippers) from Shakadvipa (Iran) who not only performed the rituals but also popularized the cult of sun worship in this part of the country.

Festivals associated with Konark Mandir

Magha Saptami and Samba Dashami are the two most important festivals of Konark Sun temple. Magha Saptami falls on the 7th day of the bright half of the Hindu month of Magha. The day is also known as Ratha Saptami, which is marked as the birthday of Lord Surya.

Thousands of pilgrims gather to take a holy dip in the Chandrabhaga River every year. However, the river has been reduced to a shallow pond. Besides, a fair is organized on this occasion known as the Chandrabhaga Mela.


Samba Dashami is celebrated on the 10th day of the waxing phase of the moon in Pausha month, as per the traditional Odia calendar.

Relation between Konark Temple and Puri Jagannath Temple

In the 18th century, the chlorite pillar, called Aruna Stambha was shifted to Puri by the Marathas who planted it in front of the Jagannath temple.

Communication to Konark Mandir

The place is well connected by good all-weather motorable roads from capital city Bhubaneswar and Puri, the district headquarters. The road distance is about 70 km from Bhubaneswar and 35 km from Puri on marine drive.

The nearest railway stations are Bhubaneswar and Puri. Several trains are connecting to Puri from across the country. The nearest airport is Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar.

Entrance Fee:

Citizens of India and visitors of SAARC: (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives, and Afghanistan) and BIMSTEC Countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Myanmar) – Rs 40 per head.

Others: Rs 600/- per head (children up to 15 years free)

The magnificent Sun Temple at Konark is the culmination of Odisha temple architecture, and one of the most stunning monuments of religious architecture in the world.

The article has been prepared with inputs from Orissa Review (Antiquity of Arkakshetra Konark by Dr. Benudhar Patra)

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Key Facts & Information


  • The Konark Sun Temple was built by King Narasimhadeva of the Eastern Ganga dynasty in 1250 CE.
  • The Eastern Ganga’s greatest king, Anantavarman Chodaganga, ruled the kingdom in the Kalinga region in eastern India (present-day Odisha) for about 70 years. He was a patron of the arts who greatly favored temple building, leading to the construction of the great temple of the god Jagannatha and the Konark.
  • His most notable successor, Narasimhadeva I, completed the construction of both the Jagannatha temple and the Konark.
  • The exact reason for its building is unknown, but many historians theorize that the king did so either to express gratitude for wish-fulfillment or to commemorate a conquest.


  • The word “konark” comes from two sanskrit words, kona, meaning “corner or angle”, and arka, which means the “sun”. It means that the main deity of the temple was the sun god and that it was in an angular format.
  • Built entirely from stone, the Konark is conceived as a giant chariot with 12 pairs of wheels representing the 12 months of the year. This is a reflection of the belief that Surya is usually found on a chariot pulled by seven horses, a constant depiction of the sun god in any work of art.
  • The Konark follows the Kalinga or Orissa style of architecture – a subset of the nagara style, one of the three Hindu temple architecture styles in India. In the nagara style, the ground plan is in the form of a square with a sanctuary and assembly hall called mandapa and a huge curvilinear tower inclining inwards and capped called shikhara.
  • Despite it being in the eastern region, King Anantavarman built the temple using the nagara style probably because he dominated many areas in northern India as well, where the nagara style was prevalent.
  • There are two main characteristics under the Orissa style: the jaganamohana or assembly hall, and the deul or sanctum housing the deity covered by the shikhara.
  • The Konark follows the style used in the Lingaraja temple, built around 1100 CE in the present-day city of Bhubaneshwar, the capital state of Odisha, with the temple at the center of a large quadrangular court.
  • Today, only the mandapa and jaganamohana of the Konark remain.
  • The reason for the collapse of the deul and shikhara is still unknown, but the main belief is that they crumbled gradually. Others, however, question whether the temple was ever completed.


  • The Konark was visited by Scottish historian James Fergusson in 1837.
  • Fergusson was known for rediscovering ancient Indian antiquities and architectural sites.
  • After his visit to the temple, Fergusson prepared a drawing where he estimated the height of the remaining portion to be between 42.67 and 45.72 meters.
  • By 1868, a local raja (king) who was building his own temple removed some sculptures from the Konark, leaving the site looking like no more than a mass of stones covered with trees. Somehow, the temple itself was saved from being used to build a lighthouse. Fergusson also said that the locals actively removed the fallen stones and took the iron cramps and dowels from the temple.
  • Lt. Governor John Woodburn initiated the restoration of the temple by launching a well-planned campaign and adopting suitable measures.
  • From 1900 onwards, conservation activities picked up speed with the Archaeological Survey of India in conserving and maintaining the site since 1939.
  • In 1984, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared it a world heritage site.


  • Many believe that the Konark is the most sacred place for the worship of Surya in the entire Odisha region. It is often given the same mythological significance as the Puranas.
  • It is said that Samba, one of the god Krishna’s many sons, built a temple for Suya in gratitude for healing his skin ailment. Although originally associated with a sun temple in northwestern India, the story was shifted to the Konark “to enhance the sanctity of the new center”, which had emerged over time as an important site for sun worship.
  • Many literary works written during the medieval period show that, along with the Jagannatha temple, the Konark was used as a landmark by sailors wandering in the Bay of Bengal, with early Europeans referring to the former as the “White Pagoda” and the latter as the “Black Pagoda”.


  • The Konark Sun Temple was built to honor the Hindu Sun God Surya.
  • The name Surya is a Sanskrit term for “sun”. This God in ancient Indian literature is also known as Aaditya, Arka, Bhanu, Savitr, Pushan, Ravi, Martanda, Mitra, Bhaskara, and VIvasvan.
  • Surya is among the five deities in order to achieve the highest Universal Principle or the Ultimate Reality in the universe, Brahman, in the Smarta Tradition.
  • The Konark Sun Temple was named after “Kona and Arka” or “Arka in the corner”.
  • Surya is often portrayed as a god riding a chariot harnessed by seven horses. These horses represent the seven colors of white light and the seven days in a week.
  • During the middle ages of Hinduism, Suyra was also used to describe the major Hindu gods Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu.
  • In other old texts and arts, Surya is depicted together with Idnra, Ganesha or other Hindu gods.

Konark Sun Temple Worksheets

This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Konark Sun Temple across 19 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Konark Sun Temple worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Konark Sun Temple which is the most famous sun temple built in India during the 13th century CE. It is dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya.

Complete List Of Included Worksheets

  • Konark Sun Temple Facts
  • The Sun Temple
  • Fast Facts
  • More Questions
  • Tell Me More
  • Other Temples
  • Quote for the Sun Temple
  • Kalinga Architecture
  • Stone Structure
  • Invitation to Konark
  • When in Odisha

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Temple of Surya, Konarak - History


Konarak is a village located at a distance of 66 km from Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa and is famous for the Sun Temple, which marks the highest point of achievement in the temple construction of Kalinga order in Orissa. The Sun Temple, even in the ruined form presents a majestic appearance in the midst of vast stretch of sand. The name is after the presiding deity Konarka, the meaning of which is Arka (Sun) of kona (corner). The European travellers called the main temple as ‘Black Pagoda’ while the Puri Temple was known as ‘White Pagoda’, probably due to the colour of these temples when viewed from a distance from the coast. The black colour of Sun Temple could be due to the accumulation of moss, lichen and other fungal growth which turned the surface of the temple into black colour.

The legends attribute the temple to the Puranic age, and references are found in the Bhavishya and Samba Purana. This tradition is carried forward in the Kapila-Samhita, the Madala-panji (chronicle of the Jagannatha temple of Puri) and the Prachi-mahatmya. The traditions attribute the construction of the temple to Samba, the son of Lord Krishna, who after a curse suffering from leprosy, did a severe penance for twelve years to get himself cured. Samba cured of his illness by the god, decided to construct the temple, and took a holy dip in Chandrabhaga and discovered the image of god, which was fashioned out of Surya’s body by Visvakarma. The tradition also attributes that Samba installed this image in the temple built by him in Mitravana.


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Konark, also spelled Konarak, Konarka, or Kanarak, historic town, east-central Odisha state, eastern India, on the Bay of Bengal coast. It is famous for its 13th-century Surya Deula (or Surya Deul), popularly known as the Sun Temple.

The town’s name is derived from the Sanskrit words kona (“corner”) and arka (“sun”), a reference to the temple, which was dedicated to the Hindu sun god Surya. It was designed to represent his chariot, with 12 huge carved stone wheels and 7 stone horses around its base. The Surya Deula is about 100 feet (30 metres) high and would have surpassed 200 feet (60 metres) in height at its completion. The exterior is covered with sculptured decorations, many depicting erotic scenes.

The town and the temple are associated with the legend of Samba, the son of the Hindu deity Krishna, who was cured of leprosy by the sun god’s blessings. Evidence suggests that the temple was built by Narasimha I (reigned 1238–64) about 1250. It represents the culmination of the Orissan school of temple architecture. Formerly called the Black Pagoda because of the many shipwrecks that occurred off the coast, the temple was used as a navigation landmark by European mariners sailing to Calcutta (now Kolkata). From the 15th to the 17th century, the temple was sacked various times by Muslim armies. By the 19th century, much of the temple had been weathered and ruined. Under British rule, sections of the temple complex were restored, but much of it remained in ruins. The complex was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984.

About 6 miles (10 km) from the town is Ramchandi Temple on Ramchandi beach, on the bank of the Kushabhadra River, which empties into the Bay of Bengal. In general, the beaches at Konark and beyond are famous for their festivals. Pop. (2001) 15,013 (2011) 16,779.

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