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Konark Wheel

KONARK SUN TEMPLE - AT A GLANCE


Konark Sun Temple Information
Famous for Hindu Temple, Heritage, Architecture
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Maintained and Governed by Archeological Survey of India
Also known as Black Pagoda, Arka khetra, Padma khetra
Dedicated to Surya, The Sun God
Entry This is a non-living temple, so everybody is allowed irrespective of caste, creed and religion
Photography Camera is allowed and photography is free
Built in 1250 AD
Built by King Narasimhadeva I of Eastern Ganga dynasty
Chief Architect Bishu Maharana
In charge of construction Sibei Samantaraya Mahapatra
Architectural Style Odisha style of architecture or Kalinga architecture
Materials used Chlorite, Laterite and Khondalite rocks
Site Area 26.2 acres
Located at Eastern Coast of Odisha, India
District/State/Country Puri/Odisha/India
Geo Coordinates 19.90°N 86.12°E
Distance from Bhubaneswar/Puri 65KMs/35KMs
Nearest Airport Bhubaneswar - 65KMs
Best Time to Visit October - February
Local Language Odia
Other languages Hindi, Bengali and English
Time zone IST (UTC +05:30)

An Architecture Marvel of Eastern India and A symbol of India's heritage, Konark Sun Temple, commonly known as Konark is situated in the eastern state of Odisha (earlier known as Orissa), India and is one of the eminent tourist attractions. Konark houses a massive temple dedicated to the Sun God. The word 'Konark' is a combination of two words 'Kona' and 'Arka'. 'Kona' means 'Corner' and 'Arka' means 'Sun', so when combines it becomes 'Sun of the Corner'. Konark Sun Temple is situated on the north eastern corner of Puri and is dedicated to Sun God. Konark is also known as Arka khetra.

Odisha has four different khetras or regions. Legend says that after killing the demon Gyasur, Lord Vishnu placed his four Ayudhas, things that he holds in his four hands, at several places to commemorate the victory. He placed the Sankha(conch) at Puri, Chakra(disc) at Bhubaneshwar, Gada(mace) at Jajpur and Padma(lotus) at Konark. So Konark is also known as Padma khetra.

Click on the image to enlarge

Sun Temple of Konark, built in the middle of 13th century, is a massive conception of artistic magnificence and engineering dexterity. King Narasimhadeva I, the great ruler of the Ganga dynasty had built this temple, with the help of 1200 artisans within a period of 12 years (1243-1255 A.D.). Since the ruler used to worship the Sun, the temple was considered as a chariot for the Sun God. Konark Temple was designed in the form of a gorgeously decorated chariot mounted on 24 wheels , each about 10 feet in diameter, and drawn by 7 mighty horses. It is really difficult to understand, how this huge temple, every inch-space of which was so wonderfully carved, could have been completed within such a short time. Whatever that might be, the konark temple even in its present ruined state, still a wonder to the whole world. Great poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote of Konark: "Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man".

Plan of Konark Temple
Konark Surya Temple 13th Century (Monuments of India, Vol. 1)

Around the base of the temple there are images of animals, foliage, warriors on horses and other interesting structures. On the walls and roof of the temple beautiful sensual figures are carved. Sun temple of Konark is a masterpiece of Orissa's medieval architecture.

The Konark temple is widely known not only for its architectural greatness but also for the sophistication and abundance of sculptural work. Konark is an exceptional mixture of marvelous temple architecture, heritage, exotic beach and salient natural beauty. The large structure of Konark Temple seen today is actually the Jagamohana (also known as Assembly hall, Audience hall or Mukhasala) of the temple. The main temple tower which enshrined the presiding deity has fallen off and only the remains can be seen. Please visit this page to konw the possible causes of the fall of main temple tower. Even in its ruined state it is a magnificent temple reflecting the mastermind of the architects that imagined and constructed it.

Konark Sun Temple
Sun Temple of Konark, Puri, Odisha, India

Inspite of the decay over the centuries the beauty of this monument is still amazing. If you are seriously interested in architecture and sculpture then you must visit this world famous monument.

Step to preserve the Konark Sun temple

To ensure the stability of the 13th century monument, the British (India was under British rule at that time) started major conservation work in 1901. They cleared the sand, debris and plants around the temple, which revealed the broken wheels, horses, the nata mandapa and many damaged sculptures. To avoid collapse, they took the ultimate step to preserve the Jagamohana, sealed all the entrance gates and filled the whole structure with sand. It took three years to complete this and we are fortunate enough that the Jagamohana is standing safely till date. Archaeological Survey of India took charge of the Konark temple in 1939.

To Preserve this superb specimen of old Indian Architecture the interior was filled in by order of The Hon'ble J.A.Bourdillon C.S.I. Lieutenant Governor of Bengal A.D.1903.

Why can't we enter the Konark Sun temple - see this inscription of 1903 AD
Why can't we enter the Konark Sun temple - see this inscription of 1903 AD

Things to see in Konark temple complex

  • The remains of the main temple tower and the Simhasana(Seat) of the Presiding Deity
  • The Jagamohana (also known as Assembly hall, Audience hall or Mukhasala) and the geometrical patterns all around it
  • The carved wheels and the spokes of the wheel which serve as sun dials
  • Architectural figures including the war horses, the war elephants, the Gaja-Simha(guarding lions at the entrance) and the seven horses those are pulling the chariot
  • The roofless Nata Mandapa (Dancing Hall) and its 16 (4 x 4) pillars, all gorgeously craved with dancers and musicians
  • The remaining parts of the Bhoga Mandapa (Kitchen)
  • Remains of the Mayadevi temple, which is believed to be the ancient Sun temple
  • Remains of the Vaishnava temple that contains the figures of different Hindu Deities like Varaha, Balarama and Vamana-Trivikrama
  • Three images of Sun God at three direction of the temple to catch the rays of the Sun at morning, noon and evening
  • The various images of dieties, dancers, musicians, elephants and mythical creatures on temple walls
  • Foreign sculptures and sculptures with western dressing style
  • The second level of the temple structure which showcases the famous sensual sculptures
  • The Sun temple museum maintained by Archeological Survey of India has a good collection of sculptures from the temple ruins
  • The Nava Graha (Nine Planets) Temple

Facts about Konark temple

  • The Konark is the third link of Odisha's Golden Triangle. The first link is Jagannath Puri and the second link is Bhubaneswar (Capital city of Odisha)
  • The Konark temple is constructed as a gigantic chariot with 24 wheels about 3 meters high and pulled by 7 horses, housing the Sun God within
  • The entrance is guarded by two huge lions, each killing a war elephant and beneath the elephant is a man. The lions represent pride, elephants represent wealth and both of them consumes man
  • Konark temple was initially built on the sea bank but now the sea has receded and the temple is a little away from the beach. This temple was also known as 'BLACK PAGODA' due to its dark color and used as a navigational landmark by ancient sailors to Odisha
  • Everyday, the Sun's rays would reach the Deul (main temple tower) from the coast and reflects from the diamond placed at the center of the idol
  • A heavy magnet was placed at the temple top and every two stones of the temple is crammed by iron plates. The idol was said to have been floating in air due to the arrangement of magnets. The magnet at the top is said to have disturbed compasses for coastal voyagers and later on removed

UNESCO World Heritage Site

There are 32 World Heritage Properties in India, out of which 25 are Cultural Properties and 7 are Natural Properties. The Sun Temple of Konark has been declared a Cultural world heritage site by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1984.

  • Location - Puri District, State of Orissa
  • Date of Inscription - 1984
  • Criteria - (i)(iii)(vi)
  • Property - 11 ha
  • Ref - 246
  • Brief Description - On the shores of the Bay of Bengal, bathed in the rays of the rising sun, the temple at Konarak is a monumental representation of the sun god Surya's chariot; its 24 wheels are decorated with symbolic designs and it is led by a team of six horses. Built in the 13th century, it is one of India's most famous Brahman sanctuaries
Click on the image to enlarge

Other Attractions

  • Konark Dance Festival - Every year, the Odisha Tourism Development Corporation and Odissi Research Centre jointly organised the world famous Konark dance festival in the first week of December on the open air auditorium in the backdrop of the Sun Temple. It is held for five days and attended by many celebrated dancers from across India. This is one of the famous dance festivals in India.
  • Light and Sound Show - A major attraction at the Sun Temple is the incredible light and sound show. It held in the evening and counted as one of the best light and sound shows in India. It narrates the historical and religious significance of the temple in a visually appealing manner. Wireless headphones are provided to the audience and the show is organized twice daily. Note that the show may cancel on any particular day due to any reason, so if you are more interested to see this, please check before your visit.

Satellite View of Konark Sun Temple

For how to reach Konark, where to eat & where to stay, please visit Konark Traveller Guide.