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World Heritage Sites - Konarak Sun Temple

Sun or the star at the center of our solar system has varied significances across cultures. Some consider it a symbol of religion whereas others worship the Sun for spiritual reasons. In India Sun or Surya (Sanskrit) as it is popularly known in the Hindu mythology, holds a very important religious significance for Hindus. Surya is considered the chief of the 'Navgraha' and is revered as one of the Gods.
Sun Temple, Konarak
Of the many Sun or Surya temples built across India, the Konark Sun temple is popular not just for its religious importance but also for its monumental substance. This 13th century architectural marvel has made India proud by featuring on UNESCO's list of world heritage sites in the year 1984. It derives its name from the words Kona meaning corner in Sanskrit and Arka meaning Sun. Also known as the 'Black Pagoda' this temple is believed to have been built by King Narasimhadeva I of Eastern Ganga Dynasty.
This temple was built in 13th century (1250 AD).
Sun Temple, Konarak
The famous Konark Temple also knows as Sun Temple is located in Puri District, State of Orissa and it is listed in UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is known for its architectural splendor where every part of temple is covered with sculpture of an unmatched magnificence and elegance. Dedicated to God Sun the Konark temple was built in 13th century in Kalingan Style of architecture by King Narsimha Deva I of Eastern Ganga dynasty, it was initially built near the sea shore but sea had receded back now by few kilometers. But during that time konark temple used to be an important navigational landmark for the sailors and was referred as “Black Pagoda” by them. konark temple is the masterpiece of Oriya architecture which shows the excellence in craftsmanship of sculptors of Eastern India during medieval times.
Sun Temple, Konarak
The temple was designed in the form of a colossal chariot of sun god, with twelve decorated wheels on the both side of the temple and seven horses sculptures in front of temple. Like other temples in Orissa, Konark temple consists of: Vimana (sanctum sanctorum) or garbh griha where main deity idol was placed, Jagmohana (The audience hall), Nritya-mandap( The dancing hall), and a Bhog-mandapa(The offering hall). Except the Main hall (Vimana) of the Temple all other structures are still standing today. The Bhog-mandapa(The offering hall) and Nritya-madapa were built on separate platform, though The Nritya-madapa was built on same line of Main temple in such a way that Jagmohana (The Audience hall) is visible from it. At the entrance of them temple there are two sculptures of lion crushing elephant. The sculptors of the temple had used Chlorite, Laterite and Khondalite stone in the construction of the Konark Sun temple.
Sun Temple, Konarak
According to the mythology Lord Krishna had cursed his son, Samba with leprosy. Sage Narada Advised Samba to worship Lord Sun to get cured of this disease. He came to Mitravana near the merging of river chandrabhagha with sea and underwent hard penance for 12 years. Finally Lord Sun got pleased with his penance and treated him of his disease. In the honors of Lord Sun he constructed temple and placed the idol of Lord Sun which he found in the river chandrabhagha next day following his cure. It is believed that Konark Temple was later constructed at the same place where this Old temple was situated. Considered a sacred place Konark is also known as Arka-Kshetra or Padma-kshetra. According to another famous folklore story which is related to the construction of temple is of Dharmapada, Son of chief Architect Bisu Maharana. According to the tale Bisu Maharana who was chief Architect was not getting the solution to mount the sikhar( The crown stone) on the temple. The king Narsimha Deva got impatient and gave three day deadline to him otherwise him and his whole group will be punished. Dharmapada had come to visit his father same time and he had great knowledge about Architectural subject. He helps his father to mount the Kalash on the sikhar of the temple before the deadline. But the community feared that king would get displeased to learn that a boy of 12 year age did the job which experienced craftsman fail to do so and they will be punished. In order to save his father and his people from such situation Dharmapada mount the temple sikhar and jump into sea.

Places to see around Konark Sun Temple:
Sun Temple, Konarak
Astranga: It is situated at the distance of approx. 27 km from Konark and 60 km from Puri. Astranga is famous for its colorful sunset panoramic view over horizon. This is also the center of salt production and fishery.
Archaeological Survey of India Museum: Located near the temple, in this museum you can see the sculptures recovered from the fallen part of Konark Temple. In Museum there are four galleries and an open verandah in which you can see many exquisite sculptures, architectural marvels and various relics of Orissan architecture which were retrieved during archeological survey in konark temple.
Bhubaneswar: It is the state capital of Orissa which is situated 70 km from the Konark. It is famous for its ancient temples such as Lingraja Temple, Mukteshwara Temple, Ananta Vasudeva Temple and many more. These temples are well known for their architectural wonder. Being house to many famous temples Bhubaneswar is also knows as temple city of India. Apart from temple you can also visit rock cut cave shelters in Udaygiri and Khandagiri.
Chandrabhaga Sea Beach: This beautiful sand beach is situated at the distance of approx. 3 km in east of Konark Sun Temple and also rich in marine resources. Listed among one of the finest beaches, it is famous for its sunrise and sunset view.
Chaurasi: Situated at the distance of 30km from Konark Temple, this place is famous for Shrines of Amareswar, Laxminarayan and Barahi. Barahi is the main temple at chaurasi, where the main deity has the face of boar; she holds fish in one hand and bowl in another hand. Belonging to the period of 9th century A.D. the main deity of the temple is also known as Varahi; and locally called as Matsya Varahi. Here Goddess is worshipped according to tantric customs. The Mahaprasad from the temple of Lord Jagannath come to this temple every day. Vijay Dashmi and fair in Chaitra are the major festival celebrated here.
Kakatpur: It is located at the distance of approx. 26km from Konark Sun Temple and 66 km from Bhubaneshwar on the bank of Prachi River. Kakatpur is known for the Maa Mangala Temple which is a famous major pilgrimage for the devotees of goddess Shakti. It is believed that Goddess is able to give peace, concentration, knowledge, happiness, and truth to its devotees. During the Nabakalevara ritual, the priests of temple of Jagannath puri pray to goddess Mangala for the guidance. The famous festival celebrated here is “Jhamu Yatra” which took place in month of Vaisahk i.e. 14th April to 15th May every year.
Konark Matha: This monastery is located in the south of Konark temple complex wall. The important feature in this monastery is that there is no deity in it, only void i.e. Nirakar Brahma is worshiped. It is believed to be the place where Samba son of Lord Krishna stayed during his 12 years of penenace. In this matha you will find a “dhuni kund” (fire place) in which fire has been kept uninterrupted since the creation of the matha.
Pipili: Pippli is small village of craftsmen which is located at the distance of 45 km from konark, and it is famous for its colorful Applique work. In this art style a piece of decorated cloth of various shapes is made and stitched exquisitely on another piece of cloth. You can buy Hand bags, wall hangings, canopies form here. In most of the rituals of Lord Jagannath, such as the Decorative canopies, umbrellas and other impotant decorative art pieces and clothes are made in Pippli.
Puri: Puri is famous for the Jagannath temple, one of the highest revered temples in Hinduism. It is located at the distance of approx. 36 km from the konark. This temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna, Balabhadra and their sister Subhadra. Jagannath temple is one of the four major char dham which was constructed by King Anantanvarman Chodaganga Deva of Eastern Ganga Dynasty in 12th century atop the remains of old temple. One of the major festival celebrated in Puri is Ratha Yatra also known as chariot festival around the world.
Ramchandi Temple: Though the original temple has collapsed, but this temple has got the religious significance as it’s among one of the Shakti Peethas in Puri. This temple is situated on southwest of Konark on the Marine drive road from Konark to Puri, approx. 7km from Sun temple. This temple location is one the picturesque places, on one side there is mouth of river Kushabhadra and in front there is vast sea of Bay of Begal. The Casuarina plantation aroung the temple and water on other gave this temple a splendid view. There is no clear evidence about the presiding deity of the temple.

How to reach Konark Sun Temple:
By Air: The nearest airport is Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneshwar which is located at the distance of 62 km from Konark. National as well international flights are operated from this airport. On reaching to airport onward journey can be done by rail or road.
By Road: It is well connected through extensive network of state highway and National Highway which links with Puri and Bhubaneswar.
By Rail: The major railway station at Puri and Bhubaneswar conncted konark with every major city in India.

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