Surya Temple

Sun temple
The Sun God "Surya" riding on a chariot with 24 wheels, having magnificent architecture and design led by a team of seven horses attracts millions of people to the temple of Konark in Orissa. This temple is not only famous for its architectural work but also renowned for its intricacy and profusion of sculptural work This temple was built by Narasimha Deva of Ganga Dynasty towards the end of 12th century. Since the complete temple is built of black stone, it is also known as Black Pagoda. This temple is around 35 kms from Puri.

History of the temple

There are several reasons to explain this temple. As per the mythological tales, Samba, son of Lord Krishna committed a mistake of insulting the sage Narada as he was very proud of his beauty. So the sage wanted to teach a lesson to Samba and he lured Samba to the pool where his step mother's were having bath. When Lord Krishna learnt about this immoral activity of his son, he was angry with his son and cursed him with leprosy. When his son asked for forgiveness and pleaded for mercy saying that it was Sage Narada who instigated him to do such an immoral act. Lord Krishna then suggested his son to worship Surya the Sun god, the healer of all diseases. According to his fathers advice he spent 12 years in meditation and worship. Pleased by this the Sun god instructed Samba to go and take a dip into the sea at Konark. The afflicted Samba was cured from leprosy as soon as he took a dip in the sea at Konark. Pleased by this Samba built a temple in honour of the Sun god for this favour at the same place which is known to the world as Konark Temple.

But the history gives the evidence that this temple was built by Narashimhadev I of the Ganga Dynasty towards the end of 12th century.

Art and Architecture

The entire temple complex is designed in the shape of a huge chariot with 24 beautifully-carved wheels drawn by seven spirited horses. The viewers who see this temple feel that the Sun god is going around the heaven in this chariot. There are three images of Sun God which are placed in a such a way that they catch the rays of the sun at dawn, noon and sunset

Its wheels and horses as they draw the chariot also indicate the passage of time. Each of the 24 wheels of the chariot measures 10 m in diameter, covered with intricate carvings. The 24 stone wheels represent 24 hours a day and the seven horses represent seven days in a week. The spokes of the wheels serve as sun dials and the shadows of the spokes show the different times of the day. This temple symbolizes Orissan medieval style of architecture. The magnificent carvings on the walls and interiors of the temple include images of gods, goddesses, human and animals giving the message of social and domestic life of the people in the 13th century. Two stone lions stand guard at the main entrance of the temple. The pyramidal roof built in sandstone is also worth watching.

Apart from this there is also a dance hall "Natya mandir" of the Sun temple which is a living example of the architectural excellence of the ancient times. Every year in February the dance festival is held where leading classical dancers, connoisseurs, tourists and locals participate actively in the event. Odissi, Bharatnatyam, Manipuri, Kathak and Chau are some of the types of dances performed here.

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