Konark a holy place in Orissa is famous for Sun Temple. The ruins of Sun Temple are left except 'Mukhasala.' The Sun Temple is also known as the Black pagoda, the name given to it by voyagers.
Konark is situated at a distance of 35 km to the north east of Puri. It is accessible by road from Puri as well as Bhubaneswar all around the year.
Konark has a police station, a dispensary and offices of archaeological department, tourism department, tehsil, notified area council, forest ranger, section offices of work, public health and electricity department. For boarding and lodging there are several bunglows such as P.W.D. inspection Bunglow, Tourist Bunglow and private lodging houses. Besides general schools and colleges there are institutions to impart training in traditional arts and crafts, dance and music.
History of Konark
Konark kshetra is called the Arka(sun) or Padma(lotus) kshetra. In this track the chief holy sites acoording to Kapial Samhita were the sea, the God Rameswara, the Sun Temple, the Maitreya woods the pools called Mangala and Salmali, the river Chandrabhaga and the tree Arkabat.
Except the Sun Temple, the sea and the Chandrabagha tirtha, others now do not exist. The sea receeded 3 km to south east of the temple and the Chandrabhaga has become an insignificant pool.
It is always questioned why this magnificient temple was erected in such a dreary barren sandy waste far from township or centre of trade. The answer to this question lies probably in the hydrography of the district. Centuries ago river named Prachi was a large navigable river flowing near Konark. Tradition speaks of an old port at its mouth which is called che-li-ta-lo.
The "Samba Purana" describes that the Samba, the handsome son of Sri Krishna once suffered from leprosy by the curse of his father. According to the advice of Divine Sage Narada he went to Maitreya woods in Arka kshetra near the river Chandrabhaga in the eastern coast of India. Samba underwent a severe penance in worshipping the sun and recovered himself from that loathsome disease and once while he was bathing in the river Chandrabhaga he discovered an image of the Sun God which he placed in a temple. From the time of Sambai.e. from about 1900 B.C. the place became famous and worship of sun was prevailant at Konark.
The present temple was built by Raja Langula Narasingh Dev son of Ananga bhima dev of Ganga dynasty in the year 1258 A.D. under the active supervision of his minister Sadashiva Samantray. The temple was erected in a marsh, called Padmatola Ganda i.e. the lotus raising pool. Twelve hundred artisians were engaged under the leadership of Bishu Maharana and it took 12 years for completion. Nearly 17.5 lakh tolas(20.35 tonnes) of gold i.e. the entire revenue got from the Orissa state was lavishly spent. It is said that Kalasa(crowning tower or Arch stone) could not be placed by artisan due to hasty completition of upper portion of temple. Lastly the twelve year son of Bishu Maharana named Dharmapada completed the same. But to save from the wrath of king the artisans and also to save the reputation of artisan community the young Dharmapada commited suicide by jumping from top of the temple into the river Chandrabhaga.
The whole temple with horses and wheels looked like stupendous chariot standing in suspended motion. The presiding diety had the figure of Maitraditya(sun) holding a lotus in each hand with ornaments on the body and a crown on the head which can be still seen in the temple within the compound of the Jagganath temple in Puri. The exact reason and date for the fall of this magnificient temple is not known. But some ascribe the reasons to be an earthquake or lighting and others think it due to the sinking of the marshy or sandy foundation.
Now pilgrims come here to see the sculptures of Mukhasala, worship Sun God and Navagraha( nine planet Gods) bath in the holy river Chandrabhaga and enjoy the natural beauty of Ramachandi.
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