Konark Sun Temple
The Konark Sun Temple (also spelled Konarak) is a 13th-century Hindu temple dedicated to the sun god.It is located in the village of Konark, which is 35km north of Puri on the coast of the Bay of Bengal.The Konark Sun Temple is the most famous tourist center in Orissa , India and has been decelared as a World Heritage Site in the year 1984.
It looks like a giant chariot, so thje temple is known for the exquisite stone carvings that cover the entire structure.The Sun Temple at Konarak was built in about 1250 AD by the East Ganga king Narasimhadeva. It is belevied that he built the temple in memmory of military successes against Muslim invaders.The Konark Sun Temple takes the form of a huge chariot for the sun god Surya, with 12 pairs of stone-carved wheels and a team of seven galloping horses (only one of which survives intact).The temple also symbolizes the passage of time, which is under the sun god’s control. The seven horses, which pull the sun temple eastwards towards the dawn, represent the days of the week. The 12 pairs of wheels represent the 12 months of the year and the eight spokes in each wheel symbolize the eight ideal stages of a woman’s day.
The main entrance to the complex is on the eastern (sea-facing) side, in front of the Hall of Offerings (bhogamandapa). This was a later addition to the complex and was likely used for ritual dance performances, as its walls are carved with sculptures of musicians and dancers as well as erotic scenes.The sanctuary tower was once the centerpiece of the Konark Sun Temple, but today it is no more than a jumble of sandstone slabs off the western wing. The imposing structure with the pyramidal roof that now takes center stage is actually the porch (jagamohana).According to local legend, the temple has a great aura of power that comes from two very powerful magnets said to have been built into the tower – magnets that allowed the king’s throne to hover in mid-air.European mariners sailing off the coast used the temple’s tower for navigation, but dubbed it the Black Pagoda for the frequent shipwrecks that occurred along the coast. They attributed the disasters to the legendary magnets’ effect on the tidal pattern.
Konarak was sacked by the Muslim Yavana army in the 15th century. The central statue enshrined in the temple was smuggled away to Puri by priests, but the Sun Temple was badly damaged in the attack.
Nature took over the destruction from there. Over the centuries, the sea receded, sand engulfed the building and salty breezes eroded the stone. It remained buried under a huge mound of sand until the early 20th century, when restoration began under the British.
British archaeologists uncovered the lower parts of the temple that had remained well preserved beneath the sand and restored what they could of the rest of the ruins. Trees were planted to shelter the temple from the damaging winds and a museum was opened to display whatever sculpture wasn’t left in situ or sent to Delhi, Calcutta and London. In 1924, the Earl of Ronaldshay proclaimed the newly-revealed temple to be “one of the most stupendous buildings in India which rears itself aloft, a pile of overwhelming grandeur even in its decay.”