Konark Sun Temple, Where the language of stone surpasses the language of man
Konark Sun temple is one of the finest specimens of Orissan architectural and one of the seven wonders of India. "Had Konark ben discovered first and then Taj Mahal at Agra by the Europeans then there no doubt that Taj would have been taken a second place in the mind of the world", remarked the noted art historian Charles Fabri. Nobel Prize winner and famous poet of West Bengal Rabindranath Tagor on describing the beauty of Konark said "Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man".
The magnificent Sun temple designed in the shape of the colossal chariots with seven galloping horses and twelve pairs of giant wheels of height 10ft fixed on either side. It is the standing witness of Odisha's glorious past and reminds the dedication for the nation of Great Dharmapada who is the proud for the soil. The name Konark derives from two Sanskrit words Kona means Corner and Arka means for Sun. That's why Konark is also known as Arkakshetra. It carries the mythical sun across the heaven which is considered to be the main attraction here. It is a master piece of medieval architecture of Odisha.
The place Konark is situated at a distance of 60kms from the capital, and 35kms away from Puri. It is situated on the north eastern corner of Puri with coordinates 19.90°N 86.12°E At Konark the proximity of the mesmerizing Chandrbhaga beach stands a marvel of architectural excellence. The temple is abounding with casuarina plantations and other types of trees and forms a natural and eco-friendly accommodation.
In 13th century AD (1238to 1250CE) the Konark temple was built by Narasimhadev-I from oxidised and weathered ferruginous sandstone. The Narasimhadev I is the ruler of Eastern Ganga Dynasty. It stands as a witness of finest Odishan architecture of Ganga dynasty. The great ruler had built the temple within a period of 12 years with the help of 1200 artisans. It is still difficult to understand how this wonderfully carved huge temple was completed within a short time period with limited workers.
It is one of the most stunning monuments dedicated to religious architecture and has now made its way to the list of world heritage sites. It is more popularly also known as Black Pagoda, as it is made of black granite. It was initially built on the sea bank and used as a navigational landmark by the sailors of Odisha. The beauty of the monument is still amazing after the decay over several centuries. UNESCO in 1984 declared it as a World Heritage Site. Along with three images of Lord Sun there are images of animals and several warriors of Odisha with horses. The images carved on the walls of the temple seem to have been infused with life by the expert hands of the architects. The dancing figures in various mudras (poses) are gracefully carved to create a mesmerising treat for the eyes. The fantasy created by the stone carving here leaves the onlookers in a trance. Every single image of Konark has been moulded with such fine artistry that one has to see it to believe.
The remaining structure of Konark is the entrance of the main sun temple. The main sanctum of the temple has fallen off. Apart from this the presence of small and remaining portions of the Dancing hall (Nata Mandir), Audience hall and the dining Hall (Bhoga Mandap) gives the idea about of the ancient beauty of the temple.
The history of Konark tells that the root of fall of Konark is Kalapahada, who had damaged the Arch stone (Dadhinauti), many heavily carved images and also the roof of Mukhasala. The dancing hall of the temple was in unbroken form for a long period but during the Maratha Administration considering it as a unnecessary part intentionally it was broken. During this period the Aruna pillar of Konark displaced to Puri Sri Mandir.
Adding to such beauties and features of konark the wonderful sea beach at Chandrabhaga is famous for its spectacular sunrises. Chandrabhaga is one of the finest beaches of country famous for its long stretch of clean sand and blue water. Every year in 1st week of December Konark Festival is organized by the department of Odisha Tourism. Classical dance performances with the Sun temple at the backdrops create an illusion that the images carved in the temple become alive to perform on the open air stage. Any visits to Odisha by outsiders remain incomplete without a visit to Konark which in itself remained a favourite destination