History of Sun Temple at Konark
The Sun temple of Konark was built around 1250 by King Langula Narasimha Dev ( 1238 - 1264 or 1282 ) of the Ganga Dynasty, with the works supervised by the chief architect Bishu Maharana. In the sixteenth century the temple was partially destroyed by General Afghan Kalapahad, a Hindu convert to Islam who invaded the then kingdom of Orissa in 1508 and attacked several other sacred buildings in the region. The images of the gods were vandalized and had its great tower arch support shifted, caused its collapse and damaging the other surrounding structures. However, tradition says that the priests of Konarak could hide the main statue of the deity and buried in the sand, where he remained for years, and later there would have been removed and taken to the temple of Indra in the complex of Jagannath . Some consider that the image was ever found, and others say that a statue of Surya kept in the National Museum of Delhi that is lost. Anyway, the worship of Surya ended with the removal of his image of the temple, and with that the city fell into decay, being abandoned and surrounded by jungle. Thereafter the complex was stripped several times to use of their material in other buildings, and the eighteenth century was devoid of most of the ornaments which could be removed. Until the early nineteenth century the ruins of the temple were covered with rubble and sand, which somehow preserved the remnants of the rich decoration that presents today.
Characteristics of Konark Sun Temple
The Sun temple at Konark, aligned in the direction east - west, are all built to resemble a chariot, the chariot of the sun, pulled by seven horses and twelve pairs of wheels of stone, and has covered the facades of relief. Like other Indian temples, the complex consists of a main building shaped tower ( vimana ), originally about 70 m high, where he was enthroned the image of divinity, a lobby pyramid ( Jagamohana ) of about 40 m, currently best preserved structure with entrances on all four sides, one of which connected to the sanctum ( antarala ), where devotees could glimpse the image, a dining room ( bhoga-mandapa ) and a dancing hall ( mandapa nirtya- or nat mandir ), where they danced made homage to the god.
In terms of style the Sun Temple of Konark belongs to the school Kalinga, with curvilinear towers crowned by domes, and your plan is similar to other religious complexes in the province. Despite having suffered many losses in their history and be in a state of partial ruin, the temple is famous for its harmonious proportions and for its rich and profuse sculptural decoration on all fronts, with numerous figures in relief of various sizes and in multiple positions with dancers, gods, animals, mythical creatures, hunting scenes and also scenes sexy courtesans, and intricate decorative patterns and geometric fitomorfos. At the base line up 1452 carved elephants. Part of his sculptures are preserved in a museum created for this purpose, attached to buildings. The beauty of the building made the poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote that "here the language of stone surpasses the language of man." Originally reliefs, made of sandstone, were covered by a thin layer of plaster, which was painted in polychrome alive, still present in some points.
Sculptural groups stand out the great images of the god Sun on three sides of the main temple.The south side of the figure the god in his youth, symbolizing the rising sun. The west is the sun of noon, in the vigor of manhood, in his chariot drawn by seven horses and driven by Aruna, his charioteer. The third statue in the north, shows the god with visible signs of fatigue, symbolizing the sun in the evening, and he rides a horse, which represents the last rays of light before night.
Also interesting are the 24 big wheels carved in stone, symbolic of the 24 hours of the day, and increase the impression of a building is a great coach; seven beautiful horses, one for each day of the week, according to tradition called Gyatri, Usnika, Anustuv, Vrihati, Pangti, and Tristup Jagati, and the great architrave belonging to the main entrance of Jagamohana with embodiments of the nine planets in the Hindu tradition: Sun Ascending) and Ketu (Descending node). This architrave has suffered an attempted removal in 1893 to be taken to a museum, but due to its weight was cut in two, and because of the sand around could not be loaded, and left distance. Today is a special shelter. The number of elephants surrounding the building were found buried and scattered, and were mistakenly installed on platforms aimed at the temple when they should be facing outward, greeting the crowd of devotees arriving.
Nearby Tourist Spots at Sun Temple, Konark