This huge 800-year-old complex was pillaged by invading Muslims in the 16th century. The main structure, the Jagamohan, later suffered damage due to natural causes. Upon its excavation early in the 20th century, archaeologists decided the only way to prevent its collapse was to fill its interior with sand and stone. The Jagamohan is huge; the entire complex is awesome.
The complex is dedicated to the sun god, Surya. On all the walls and the base of the Jagamohan are intricately carved scenes of life in that part of India in the 1200s c.e., with a few altar-like sections for the worship of Surya and other gods.
Admission is Rs 250 for non-Indians. A registered guide -- the only kind anyone should hire -- costs Rs 100 an hour (though I paid mine Rs 500 for a little over two hours).
The Archaeological Museum is just outside the main entrance into the Sun Temple complex. It contains main stone sculptures including a 'spare' wheel of the chariot and that of Surya, the sun god. More photo's can be found in one of my travelogues.
Open: 10am-5pm Sat-Thur. Closed Fridays. Admission: Rs5 for all.
From the west, you can see the repairs that have had to be undertaken in order to keep the temple from collasping. It's a shame that the new smooth stone blocks look so out of place from the temple but I suppose it's better that they're there to help keep the temple upright than there being no temple at all!
Three life-size images of the Sun God, Surya, made of contrasting coloured chlorite stone, are positioned so that the sun's rays fall on their faces, turm by turn, at dawn, noon and sunset. Surya is seen flanked by his wives and other deities.
The main entrance or Jagamohan to the temple was closed off when the temple was excavated and restoration began in 1901. The entire entrance has been filled with rocks and sand to prevent it from collapsing inwards which is a great shame.
The Bhogmandir means "Hall of Offerings" and stands in ruins before the entrance to the main temple itself. The entrance to the hall is guarded by two giant lions, which are each shown crushing a war elephant. This symbolises the supremacy of the brahmin Hinduism (lion) over the Buddhism (elephant). Each elephant in turn lies on top of a human body. The temple is missing its roof, bit its plinth and pillars remain, carved with figures of dancers, depicting the poses still used in classical Odissi dance.
The temple is famous for its erotic sculptures, which can be found primarily on the second level of the porch structure. Gods and emons, kings and peasants, elephants and horses jostle for space on its walls with dozens of erotic couples. The erotic sculptures at Konark are a celebration of the joys of life.
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 12 pairs of exquisitely carved wheels represent the months of the year, while the eight large spokes mark the division of the day into three-hour sections. The seven horses pulling the chariot represent the days of the week. There is a 'spare' wheel in the nearby museum.
The temple takes the form of the chariot of Surya (Arka), the sun god, and is heavily decorated with stone carvings. Statues of graceful maidens in a variety of poses are carved on the temples facade.
The Sun Temple at Konark was one of my highlights whilst travelling around India. It sits in the middle of nowhere, all alone, on a flat featureless landscape near the Orissan coastline near Puri, which is about 35km away. It was built between 1253 and 1260 A.D. by the Orissan king Narasimhadeva I (1236-1264) to celebrate his military victory over the Muslims and is one of the signature temples throughout the whole of India and, because of this, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple was then sacked by the Muslim Yavana army in the 15th century. The central statue enshrined in the temple was smuggled away to Puri by priests, but the Sun Temple was badly damaged in the attack. Nature took over the destruction from there. Over the centuries, the sea receded, sand engulfed the building and salty breezes eroded the stone. It remained buried under a huge mound of sand until the early 20th century, when restoration began under the British.
The temple takes the form of the chariot of Surya (Arka), the sun god. 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 giant lions, which are each shown crushing a war elephant. This symbolises the supremacy of the brahmin Hinduism (lion) over the Buddhism (elephant). Each elephant in turn lies on top of a human body. The temple symbolises the majestic stride of the Sun god.
The Sun temple belongs to the Kalinga School of Indian Temples with characteristic curvilinear towers mounted by cupolas. In shape, the temple did not make any major departure from other sikhara temples of Orissa. 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 and the Dining Hall have survived the vagaries of time.
The entire chariot is hauled along by seven spirited horses, in which only a few have survived today, that are located along the steps of the main temple itself.
This enchanting relief of the king being presented with a giraffe indicates the existance of maritime trade between Orissa's Eastern Ganga kings and Africa.