Konark (Oriya: କୋଣାର୍କ) (Sanskrit: कोणार्क) is a small town in Puri district in the state of Odisha, India, on the Bay of Bengal, sixty-five kilometers from Bhubaneswar. It is the site of the 13th-century Sun Temple (also known as the Black Pagoda), built in black granite by King Narasimhadeva-I (AD 1236-1264) of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. The temple is a World Heritage Site. It takes the form of the chariot of Surya (Arka), the sun god, and is heavily decorated with stone carving. The entire complex was designed in the form of a huge chariot drawn by seven spirited horses on twelve pairs of exquisitely decorated wheels. The entrance is guarded by two lions, which are each shown crushing a war elephant. Each elephant in turn lies on top of a human body. The temple symbolises the majestic stride of the Sun god. At the entrance of the temple is a Nata Mandir. This is where the temple dancers used to perform dances in homage to the Sun god. All around the temple, there are various floral and geometric patterns. There are also human, divine and semi-divine figures in sensuous poses. The poses contains couples in various amorous poses, and are derived from the Kama Sutra. The temple is now partly in ruins, and a collection of its sculptures is housed in the Sun Temple Museum, which is run by the Archaeological Survey of India. The poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote of Konark: "Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man." Konark literally means “Essence of the Corners”.
Konark is also home to an annual dance festival, held every December, devoted to classical Indian dance forms, including the traditional classical dance of Odisha, odissi.
On 16 February 1980, Konark lay directly on the path of a total solar eclipse.
Konark beach is a popular tourist destination, though the waters are deceptively calm. Its main attraction lies in its views of the temple.
Konark Sun Temple
The Sun Temple, built in the thirteenth century, was conceived as a gigantic chariot of the Sun God, Surya, with twelve pairs of exquisitely ornamented wheels pulled by seven horses. Majestic in conception, this temple is indeed one of the most sublime monuments of India, famous as much for its imposing dimensions and faultless proportions as for the harmonious integration of architectural grandeur with plastic allegiance. It is admittedly the best in Odisha. Its fine traceries and scrollwork, as well as the beautiful and natural cut of animal and human figures, give it a superiority over other temples.
Stone Work at Konark
The Sun temple belongs to the Kalinga School of Indian Temples with characteristic curvilinear towers mounted by cupolas. In shape, the temple did not make any major departure from other sikhara temples of Odisha. The main sanctum (229 ft. high) which was constructed along with the audience hall (128 ft. high) having elaborate external projections. The main sanctum which enshrined the presiding deity has fallen off. The Audience Hall survives in its entirely, but only small portions of the Dancing Hall (nata Mandir) and the Dining Hall (Bhoga-Mandap) have survived the vagaries of time. The Temple compound measures 857 ft (261 m) by 540 ft (160 m) The alignment of the Sun Temple is along the east-west direction. The Temple is located in natural surroundings, abounding with casuarina plantations and other types of trees, which grow on sandy soil. The environment is by and large unspoiled. Gentle undulating topography around the Sun Temple lends some variation to the landscape. Konark is also home to an annual dance festival, held every December, devoted to classical Indian dance forms, including the traditional classical dance of Odisha, Odissi.
Besides Konark there is also another sun temple in Odisha called Biranchi khetra (Biranchi Narayan Temple) in Buguda, Ganjam District.
The stones at Konark are not joined by any limestone or cement. Instead, they are joined in a unique manner by making the two stone plates so plane like glass plate that just one drop of gum can join the two stones.
Fall of Konark
It is opined by some historians that, due to the early death of the king Langula Narasimha Dev, builder of the Konarak temple, the construction of the temple had been left in a haphazard state. As a result of this, the incomplete structure eventually collapsed. But this view is unsupported by historical data. The records of Madala Panji of Puri Jagannath temple, as well as from some copper plates dated 1278 A.D., state that the king Langula Narasimha Dev reigned till 1282. Many historians are of the opinion that the construction of the Konark temple was completed between 1253 and 1260 A.D. So the argument that the temple collapsed due to non-completion during construction is not tenable.
Legends describe a lodestone on the top of the Sun temple. Due to its magnetic effects, vessels passing through the Konark sea were drawn to it, resulting in heavy damage. Other legends state that magnetic effects of the lodestone disturbed ships' compasses so that they did not function correctly. To save their shipping, the Portuguese voyagers took away the lodestone, which was acting as the central stone and keeping all the stones, and the iron columns used to hold them walls together, of the temple wall in balance. Due to its displacement, the temple walls lost their balance and eventually fell down. But there is no record of this occurrence in any historical records, nor is there any record of the existence of such a powerful lodestone at Konark.
Wheel of Konark Sun Temple
The most popular theory about the root of the fall of Konark temple rests with the Kalapahad. According to the history of Odisha, Kalapahad invaded Odisha in 1508. He destroyed Konark temple, as well as a number of Hindu temples in Odisha. The Madala Panji of Puri Jagannath temple describes how Kalapahad attacked Odisha in 1568. Including Konark temple, he broke most of the images in most of the Hindu temples in Odisha. Though it was impossible to break the Sun temple of Konark, the stone walls of which are of 20 to 25 feet (7.6 m) thick, he somehow managed to displace the Dadhinauti (Arch stone) and thus made a way for the temple to collapse. He also broke most of the images and other side temples of Konark. Due to displacement of the Dadhinauti, the temple gradually collapsed and the roof of the Mukasala was also damaged, due to the stones falling down from the temple top.
Consequently, Odisha came under Muslim control in 1568. There were attempts to destroy the Hindu temples. The Pandas of Puri, to save the sanctity of the Puri temple, took away the Jagannath from the temple and kept the image in a secret place. Similarly, it is said that the Pandas of Konark took away the presiding deity of the Sun temple and buried it under the sand for years. Latter on the image was said to have been removed to Puri and kept in the temple of Indra, in the compound of the Puri Jagannath temple. According to others, the Puja image of the Konark temple is yet to be discovered. But others hold the view that the Sun image now kept in the National Museum of Delhi was the presiding deity of the Konark Sun temple.
However, the Sun worship in the Konark temple was ended upon the removal of the image from the temple. This resulted in the end of pilgrimages to Konark. The port at Konark was also closed, due to pirate attacks. Konark was as glorious a city for Sun worship as it was for commercial activities, but after the cessation of these activities, Konark became deserted and was left to develop as a dense forest for years.
In 1626 the then king of Khurda (now a district in Odisha), Raja Narasimha Dev, son of Purusottam Dev, took away the Sun image to Puri along with two other moving deities - Sun and Moon. Now they are found in a temple in the compound of Puri Jagannath temple.
It is recorded in the Madala Panji of Puri temple that in 1028, Raja Narasimha Dev ordered measurements to be taken of all the temples at Konark. At the time of measurement, the Sun temple was in existence up to its Amalak sila, i.e. about 200 feet (61 m) in height. Kalapahad had only destroyed its Kalas, the crowning stone and the Padma-dhwaja, the lotus finial and the upper portions.
As described earlier there was a big block of stone called Navagraha Paata placed in front of the Mukhasala. The then king of Khurda removed the block. The king had taken away many sculptured stones from Konark and constructed some portions of Puri temple with them. During Maratha's time the outer compound wall of the Puri temple was constructed of stones from Konark temple.
It is reported that among all the temples the Naata Mandir or the Dancing hall of Konark was in its original form for the longest period, and that it was broken intentionally since it was considered an unnecessary structure during the Maratha administration.
In the year 1779, a Maratha Sadhu had taken away the Aruna Khumba (Pillar) from Konark and put it in front of the Lion's Gate of Puri Jagannath temple. Thus by the end of 18th century Konark lost all its glories and had been turned to a dense forest. In course of time, the temple area thus became devoid of people, covered with dense forest, full of sand, filled with wild animals and became the abode of pirates. It is said that even the locals feared to go to Konark in broad daylight.
As the legend says that, King Narasimha Deva-I of the Ganga Dynasty had ordered this temple to be built as a royal proclamation of the political supremacy of his dynasty. A workforce of 12 hundred artisans and architects invested their creative talent, energy and artistic commitment for an exhausting period of 12 years. The king had already spent an amount equivalent to the state's revenue receipts of 12 years. However, the completion of the construction was nowhere near sight. Then the king issued a final command that the work be completed by a stipulated date. The team of architects headed by Bisu Maharana was at its wit's end. It was then that Dharmapada the 12 year old son of the chief architect Bisu Maharana arrived there as a visiting onlooker. He became aware of the anxiety looming large among the architects. Although he did not have any practical experience of temple construction, he was thorough in his study of the theories of temple architecture. He offered to solve the confounding problem of fixing the last copping stone at the top of the temple. He surprised everyone by doing that himself. But soon after this achievement the dead body of this adolescent prodigy was found on the sea beach at the foot of the temple. Legend says that Dharmapada laid down his life to save his community.
The victorious King of Odisha, Narasimhadeva erected a victory pillar designed as a war chariot. This temple was dedicated to Surya the Sun god, at a location near the temple town of Puri. He named this place Konark which means “Essence of the Corners” While the structure commemorates the victory in the battle against the Muslims, the name Konark commemorates the science of astronomy of which the King was an avid student.
Nearby tourist spots
Chandrabhaga 3.5 km From Konark Temple
Ramachandi 8 km From Konark Temple
Bhagabati Temple, Konark 2 km From Konark Temple
Kuruma 6 km From Konark Temple
Puri 35 km From Konark Temple
Chilika 70 km From Konark Temple
As of 2001 India census, Konark had a population of 15,015. Males constitute 52% of the population and females 48%. Konark has an average literacy rate of 57%, lower than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 64%, and female literacy is 49%. In Konark, 14% of the population is under 6 years of age.
Biraja Temple is one of the ancient Hindu temples located in the Jajpur district of Orissa, India. This present temple was built in 13th century. It is situated in the Jajpur township which is nearly 125 KM from Bhubaneswar. The main idol is Devi Durga who is worshiped by the name Viraja.The idol is having two hands(dwibhuja),in one hand she pierces the chest of Mahishasura with a spear and in other hand she pulls the tail of the Mahishasura.The Durga idol is standing on Lion in one leg and other leg is on Mahishasura chest.The Mahishasura is depicted as a Buffalo,not as regular human demon.The crown of Devi has symbol of Ganesha,Crescent moon and a Shivalinga.The temple covers a large area, and it has several Shiva linga and other deities. Jajpur is also known as Biraja Kshetra or Biraja Peetha.According to Skanda Purana,utkala khanda it washes all rajo guna of pilgrims.So called as Viraja or Biraja kshetra.
It is heard from Puranas that Gaya is having mouth of Gayasura(Shirogaya)& the navel is in Jajpur inside Biraja Temple.Whereas padagaya(legs of gayasura) is in Pithapuram of Andhra Pradesh. God Brahma did 10 Ashwamedha yajna here on the bank of Baitarani Or Vaitarani.It is called as Dakshina(south) Vedi of Brahma.Others being Gaya(east); Kurukshetra,(north); Pushkar,(west) & Prayag Allahbad,(centre) according toVamana Purana.Many pilgrims gather here for Shraaddha during Mahalaya.A Holy dip commenses on the day of Chaitra krishna chaturdasi called as Varuni Snan Yoga.It becomes auspicious if the day is saturday and the star is Shatabhisha The nearest rail head is Byasanagar or jajpur keonjhar road on chennai-howrah railway.