Have you ever heard an ancient Hindu temple built in the name of the sun god? And it is the Sun Temple in Konark, Orissa, whose shape likes giant chariot and are at the age of 13th- century. Many people also know the temple because of its exquisite stone carvings that cover its interiors and exteriors.
Located 35 Km North of Puri, the Sun Temple is the most popular tourist destination in Orissa. People from across the world, travel to India just to get a glimpse of this magnificent World Heritage Site.
What to See
The Sun Temple in Konark was built in the form of a huge chariot for the sun god, Surya. It has 12 pairs of stone-carved wheels and seven galloping horses. Of these seven horses only one remains intact today.
The temple architecture of Sun Temple symbolizes the passage of time which according to Hindus is under the control of sun god. The seven horses, which pull the temple towards the East into the dawn, represent days of a week; the twelve pairs of wheels, represent twelve months of a year whereas the eight spokes in each of the wheels symbolize the eight stages of a woman's day.
The main entrance of the temple is situated in front of the 'hall of offering' also known as the Bhogamandapa. This hall was used for ritual dance performances in ancient times. You will notice sculptures of musicians and dancers intrinsically carved on the walls of this hall.
The roof of the Sun Temple has three tiers covered in statues of musicians and dancers offering prayer to the sun god. A Shiva Nataraja sculpture in the posture of a cosmic dance can be seen on the bottom of the platform. Just beyond the porch you will find a double staircase that leads to a shrine. The shrine contains the statue of the sun god which is a beautifully carved green chlorite stone sculpture. This sculpture is one of the masterpieces of Konarak Sun Temple. The sculpture of lord Surya is accompanied by the charioteer, Aruna, at his feet. From here you can climb down to the remains of the inner of the temple, where the deity was originally enshrined.
Other sculptures decorating the Sun temple's exterior wall include animals, floral patterns, mythical beasts and aquatic monsters. The twelve pairs of giant wheels are beautifully carved. Each of the eight spokes of these wheels is decorated with figurative carvings.
There are regular bus and jeep services from Puri that will take you to Konark. This journey lasts usually for about an hour. Alternatively, you can also take an auto rickshaw to Konark Sun Temple from Puri.