Sun Temple, Konark

Brief
On the shores of the Bay of Bengal, bathed in the rays of the rising sun, the temple at Konarak is a monumental representation of the sun god Surya's chariot; its 24 wheels are decorated with symbolic designs and it is led by a team of six horses. Built in the 13th century, it is one of India's most famous Brahman sanctuaries. Even in its present state of ruins it stands as a architectural might and found its place  in World Heritage list.

History
This temple built in 1278 CE by the Ganga King Narasimha Deva is one of the grandest temples of India and was referred to as the Black Pagoda. The ruins of this temple were excavated in late 19th century. The tower over the Garbagriha is missing, however the Jagmohana is intact, and even in this state, it is awe inspiring. Legend has it that Samba, the king of Krishna and Jambavati entered the bathing chamber of Krishna's wifes, and was cursed by Krishna with leprosy. It was decreed that he would be relieved of the curse by worshipping the sun God on the sea coast north east of Puri. Accordingly Samba reached Konaditya Kshetra and discovered an image of Surya seated on the lotus, worshipped him and was relieved of his curse. It is said that the temple was not completed as conceived because the foundation was not strong enough to bear the weight of the heavy dome. Local beleif has it that it was constructed in entirety, however its magnetic dome caused ships to crash near the seashore, and that the dome was removed and destroyed and that the image of the Sun God was taken to Puri.


The  Temple:- The Konark temple or The Sun Temple is widely known not only for its architectural grandeur but also for the intricacy and profusion of sculptural work. The entire temple has been conceived as a chariot of the sun god with 24 wheels, each about 10 feet in diameter, with a set of spokes and elaborate carvings. Seven horses drag the temple. Two lions guard the entrance, crushing elephants. A flight of steps lead to the main entrance.

Prime Attractions

Mayadevi Temple:-  To the west of the main temple are the remains of temple no.2 popularly called the temple of Mayadevi, believed to have been one of the wives of Lord Surya. But the presence of the sun images as parsvadevata in-situ indicate its dedication to the sun god, built earlier than the main Sun temple. The temple facing east, consists of a sanctum (deul) and a porch (Jagamohana) standing over a raised platform, façade of which is relieved with ornamentation. The superstructures of the sanctum and porch are missing. The interior of the porch is notable for their sculptural treatment while the sanctum is devoid of any deity. Stylistically, the temple is assignable to circa late eleventh century AD.

Vaishnava Temple:-
The small brick temple facing east in south-west corner of the compound was discovered in 1956 during the sand clearance. Also called temple no.3 is pancharatha on plan. It consists of a deul and a Jagamohana but with the superstructure is missing and devoid of any exterior decoration. Images of Balarama and two parsvadevatas of Varaha and Trivikrama were unearthed (now displayed in Archaeological Museum, Konark) proving its Vaishnava affiliation. The temple is datable to circa eleventh century A.D.

The Melakkadambur Shiva temple:- Built in the form of a chariot during the age of Kulottunga Chola I (1075-1120), is the earliest of this kind, and is still in a well preserved state. It is believed that this temple set the pace for the ratha (chariot) vimana temples in India, as a distant descendant of Kulottunga I on the female line, and thefamous Eastern Ganga ruler Narasimha Deva, built the Sun Temple at Konark in the form of a chariot in the 13th century. Kulottunga Chola is also credited with having built the Suryanaar temple near Kumbhakonam. Temples dedicated to the Sun are not a common feature in the Tamil speaking region of the Indian subcontinent.

The Nata Mandirr:- The Nata Mandir in front of the Jagamohana is also intricately carved. Around the base of the temple, and up the walls and roof, are carvings in the erotic style. There are images of animals, foliage, men, warriors on horses and other interesting patterns. There are three images of the Sun God, positioned to catch the rays of the sun at dawn, noon and sunset.