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Konark Sun Temple

November 7, 2017

This architectural marvel is situated about 35 kms from Puri and 70 kms from Bhuvaneshwar along the coast. This temple was dedicated to the Sun God and had huge magnet at the top which distracted the ships coming in from the sea. The temple now lies in ruins and seems to be under repair which seems to be going on since the last couple of times I have visited. A beautiful place with a long history, not to be missed. 
It is open from dawn to dusk and there is an entry fee to be paid. We paid Rs 30/- when we went. We have to walk a fair distance from the car park as cars are not allowed nearby. The place is neatly maintained by the ASI and the Orissa state tourism departments lodgings is located nearby. There are good, clean loos and drinking water facility made available for the tourists. Not sure about the wheel chair accessibility. Best to hire a government appointed guide. They charge about Rs150/- and take us around the temple explaining the history, which is completely worth the money.
There are many shops selling tourist souvenirs which make good gifts. There are also people selling pearls and corals claiming them to be original. Buy them at your risk.

If you are in Puri, you just cannot afford to miss out on Konark. Located around 30 kms from Puri, it is an half day excursion to the Konark Temple. We booked a taxi for Rs. 1200 from one of the various travel agents along Puri Beach that included pickup from our resort, drive to Konark and back. 

The ticket to the temple is at Rs.30 per person and is available from the ticketing counter.You can also hire a guide for Rs.150- Rs.200, who can show you around the temple. There is also a large market located on the path towards the temple where you can pick up goods at a reasonable price after some bargaining. I bought from beautiful wooden storage boxes for Rs.100 a piece. 

Architecturally, the temple is in ruins. The vimana of the temple fell off years ago (due to structural mis-planning and constant corrosion). Built after the Jagannath temple, it was supposed to be the tallest temple in Orissa but the king ran out of funds midway. Not exactly my favorite temple of all, but definitely worth a visit. This temple is said to have been inspired by Khajuraho and has various erotic sculptures on it's walls.

On the way back to Puri around a km or so from Konark,, you will come across a small river (not sure of it's name) where you can also hire a water scooter/boat.

 

Konark is about 1 hour from Puri and a little more than that from Bhubaneshwar; the roads are single-lane but smooth & quick.

It is of course the most popular tourist site in Odisha and it's totally worth that reputation. So it's almost always crowded, but avoid going on weekends or holidays; we were also told that mornings (before 11 AM) and late evenings (after 5 PM) are least crowded times of the day. Its open from sunrise to 8 PM.We visited twice - once in the morning and then in late evening for the light and sound show (which was interesting and pretty good). This show has been started only recently and it takes place after the temple closes for visitors (8 PM). If one is interested in the show, it might be a good idea to visit this place around 5 PM (little before sunset) - see it during day time, then after dark (amazing experience) and then wait for the show.
The site itself is pretty well-maintained by ASI (it's ticketed) - pretty clean and, the temple and surrounding gardens are well kept. Few days before we were there, there was some water logging, but we could not see any signs of it. There are many vendors just outside the entrance selling food, soft drinks, trinkets, crafts, etc.The main temple building itself is grand and beautiful. The actual temple (the tallest part - deul or gopuram) has been destroyed (so, it's a non-working temple), but the pyramidal "jag mohan" (prayer hall) and "nritya gruha" (dance hall) are still much intact and that's what you see and walk around. The temple is designed as a chariot for the Sun god, with his 7 horses and his charioteer Arun. The famous Konark wheels are on the sides, they are intricate and beautiful. Most of the temple base is covered with ornate and detailed carvings & statues of religious scenes, court scenes, deities, people, daily life scenes and even some erotica. There are other smaller temples in the complex like the Chhaya Devi temple.We thought it was a good idea to take an official guide (near the ticket window, Rs 200). We asked him to be to-the-point and he took around an hour to show us around the complex. He gave a lot of interesting information and pointed out things that we wouldn't have noticed otherwise like the use of the wheels as sun-dial or facets of the 4 big Sun god statues on the sides or about Arun the charioteer or many interesting scenes carved in the building.We visited the temple again in the evening and it took our experience to another level. There was very less crowd at that time and the whole complex was lit up in soft lighting at strategic points. It was an amazing experience walking around the temple lazily in the semi darkness and near silence. The whole temple complex and the temple itself takes a very different character in the night. I would strongly recommend a visit after dark.At 8 PM, the light and sound show started and lasted for 40 minutes. It tells the story of the temple and little bit of Odia history. You get a device with headphones that includes audio in English, Hindi or Odia to go along with the light show played on the actual temple buildings. The show was pretty good - bright, colorful, majestic and informative.

 


It's a master piece in Architecture some 900 yrs! Beautifully chiselled 12 Wheels with 12 horses to pull a Chariot for Sun God by the Prince of Odisha must be seen to be believed for the shear Mathematical Genius of those Indians that (1)one can measure the time of the day at anytime by measuring the shadow on the particular wheel to the minute (2)magnetic beams used for the first time in the world that Sun God was held between top and bottom beams (3)You can also see Khujaraho here as this is built before Khujaraho and with some scenes as shown in one of my pictures. Konark is just 40 km away from Puri and Bhubaneswar. Conducted tours available from both places.

 

First. Konark is a World Heritage Site. That alone should give one an indication of how magnificent and important it is. This is a piece of history that is over 700 years old and is well maintained too. Take the services of a guide as there is much to learn about the temple - its layout, significance of various icons and sculptures as well as the stories behind its myths. Each of the chariots wheels serves as a sun dial and each have their own theme - Das Avatar, Yoga poses etc. The temple is a heaven for photographers as the angles and stone work make for interesting subjects.

 

The Sun Temple of Konark is an iconic mark to the state Orissa & depicts the glorious past of our history & heritage through its astonishing architecture. The widespread temple complex is situated near at sea & it is known that it was actually on sea shore when built approximately 700 years back. The main structure, also known as 'Black Pagoda', is still a wonder for its gigantic construction as well as intricate stone carving. The temple is dedicated to 'Sun God' & structure is built as Chariot of the God with 24 stone carved wheel representing 24 hrs of a day & resembles as sun dial. The Temple Complex built with other notable structures complying Hindu style. Though the Temple dedicated to God, there is no deity or no rituals, but what it offer is amazing & unique for its historical & architectural value. 

This place, being close to Puri and also being part of 'Golden Triangle of Orissa' attracts lot of tourists throughout the year. While most of the tourists visit this place on a hurried day trip with other places, this, being one of the most amazing architecture, deserves a thorough attention & following points may be helpful to feel the place better:
A. At least half of a day is essential for details look of the place.
B. It is better to take guide assistance to understand its architectural & aesthetical detail.
C. To have a peaceful visit, better to avoid long weekend & holidays when probability of crowd is more.
D. The temple is illuminated in evening. Also, as known, light & sound show will be commenced shortly.
E. Presently some preservation/ maintenance work is going on there under supervision of ASI & some temporary structures built for that purpose, which obstructing the view of temple for clear photography.
F. An OTDC Guest House is situated nearby & so not far away from sea. One can night halt there to have a peaceful holiday with option to visit the place as per own choice.
G. Nearby Chandrabhaga Beach attracts lot of tourists for its nice ambience.
This Temple is an 'UNESCO World Heritage' site and one of the most notable architectural display of ancient India & thus should be a definite destination for tourists visiting Orissa.

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