A symbol of India’s heritage, Konark Sun Temple, commonly known as Konark is situated in the eastern state of Odisha (earlier known as Orissa), India and is one of the eminent tourist attractions. Located in the eponymous village of Konark, 35 km from Puri, it is the remains of a temple that was constructed in the 13th century.
The word ‘Konark’ is a combination of two words ‘Kona’ and ‘Arka’. ‘Kona’ means ‘Corner’ and ‘Arka’ means ‘Sun’, so when combines it becomes ‘Sun of the Corner’. Konark Sun Temple is situated on the north eastern corner of Puri and is dedicated to Sun God. Konark is also known as Arka khetra.
Many Hindu scriptures mention Konark as an important place for worshipping the sun. There’s one that says Konark was the place where the first Sun temple was constructed. Samba Purana, an ancient text dedicated to Surya, tells the legend of how Samba, son of Lord Krishna, built the temple to worship the sun. It is believed that worshipping the sun was started by Samba. As the legend goes, Samba built a sun temple in the 19th Century BC at the end of his 12-year long worship of the Sun at Maitryeavana. This worship cured him of leprosy that he was suffering from.
- Timings: Konark Sun Temple timings are 6 am to 8 pm.
- Address: Konark Sun Temple address is Konark, Odisha 752111.
- Opening Days: The temple is open on all days.
The Konark Sun Temple is built in the form of a mammoth chariot that Surya rode. It is said that Surya rode across the sky on his chariot pulled by 7 horses. The platform of Konark is engraved with 24 wheels of the chariot. The numbers 7 and 24 hold a lot of significance. Some say that the 7 horses represent the 7 days of the week, while others say that 7 horses represent the 7 components of white light that we know as the VIBGYOR. Number 7 is said to be a magical number because it’s present all around us, spiritually, historically, and materialistically. For instance, in Hindu weddings, the bride and groom take 7 rounds of Agni, the Fire God; the periodic table has elements in the groups of 7; an octave as 7 musical notes, and so on. So, the 7 horses may just represent the magical number that surrounds us.
The number 24 represents the 24 fortnights in a year and also the 24 hours of the day, something that Ashok Chakra in the centre of the Indian flag also represents.
The temple is known for its impressive Kalinga architecture that includes a depiction of a 100 ft high chariot being pulled by horses and wheels carved out of a single stone. The monument portrays the imposing chariot of the sun god. Built of Khondalite rocks, the original temple had 230 ft high sanctum which no longer exists, 128 ft high audience hall, dance hall, dining hall which survive still. There are 24 intricately designed wheels, 12 ft in diametre which are seen drawn by horses. These seven horses represent the week, the wheels stand for the 12 months while the day-cycle is symbolised by the eight spokes in the wheels. And this whole depiction tells how the time is controlled by the sun – being the very illustration of the Surya in the Hindu mythology travelling from the east in his chariot escorted by his charioteer, Aruna. The entrance leads to the shrine of the deity of Surya made of chlorite stone. The walls of the temple are adorned with reliefs – intricate carvings of various figures including Hindu gods, images of the everyday mortal life, birds, animals and more. The temple also has erotic sculptures on its shikhara belonging to the tantra tradition. The wheels of the temple can be used as sundials and can very well predict the time.
How to reach
Konark Sun Temple is situated in Konark, a town in the district of Puri in Odisha.
- Nearest Bus Stand : Konark Bus Stand is 6 minutes from the Sun Temple. You can board a bus from Puri and reach Konark in an hour.
- Nearest Railway Station: Puri railway station is the nearest railway station from the Konark Temple. It is 30 km from Konark. You can book Bhubaneswar to Puri trains and then take a taxi to reach the temple.
- Nearest Airport: Bhubaneswar Airport or Biju Patnaik International Airport is 65 km and around an hour-long drive from the Konark Sun Temple. You can easily get taxis on hire to reach Konark from the airport.
The Konark Sun Temple ticket can be purchased at Rs 40 for Indians whereas if you are a foreigner then you have to pay Rs 600. The entry fee for Konark Temple for BIMSTEC and SAARC citizens is Rs 40. The entry tickets to Konark Sun Temple for the light and show can be bought at the venue. The visitors are provided wireless headphones and they have a choice between three languages: English, Hindi and Odiya. It is an hour long show starting at 7 pm. The ticket price is Rs 30 per person.
- Konark Dance Festival – Every year, the Odisha Tourism Development Corporation and Odissi Research Centre jointly organised the world famous Konark dance festival in the first week of December on the open air auditorium in the backdrop of the Sun Temple. It is held for five days and attended by many celebrated dancers from across India. This is one of the famous dance festivals in India.
- Light and Sound Show – A major attraction at the Sun Temple is the incredible light and sound show. It held in the evening and counted as one of the best light and sound shows in India. It narrates the historical and religious significance of the temple in a visually appealing manner. Wireless headphones are provided to the audience and the show is organized twice daily. Note that the show may cancel on any particular day due to any reason, so if you are more interested to see this, please check before your visit.