The sun is among the foremost natural sources of importance to humankind. It is a gigantic ball of gases that burns perpetually. The activities of humans are governed by the continuous waxing and waning of it. Since humans appeared on Earth, they have revered the sun extensively. Over the time, this natural phenomenon was elevated to the status of a god. Almost all the ancient and modern civilisations have their own way to perceive its greatness. The ancient Romans and Greeks worshipped it as Apollo the son of Zeus. In the Pharaoh-ruled Egypt, it assumed the form of Ra – one of their main deities. Similarly, in India and Hinduism, it is revered as Surya Dev, who has been explicitly mentioned and described in the epics, Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads. Numerous temples and shrines dedicated to the above-mentioned god were constructed all over the world; the most famous of which is in Konark. India holidays can be made better by visiting this antique marvel of architecture.
Konark Sun Temple
The Sun Temple in Konark, in the Indian state of Odisha, is one of the most majestic shrines ever built. According to the Bhavishya and Samba Puranas, the earliest temple at the site was constructed somewhere in the 9th century or earlier. The Madala Panji mentions another temple at this place, dating to the 7th century. Narsimhadeva I, who was a ruler of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty from 1238 to 1264, constructed the present structure. It is built in the shape of a huge chariot, like the one that Surya has, according to texts. A total of 12 stone wheels are carved on the platform, on which the shrine stands. Built, utilising the Kalinga style of architecture, it faces the east, so that it is illuminated as soon as the sun rises in the morning. Khodalite rocks, found in the Eastern Ghats of the country, were used in its construction.
There was a tower, 229 feet tall, just behind the present building. It, along with the sanctum, collapsed for reasons and date unknown. Kalapahad, a Bengali sultan, who invaded Odisha in 1568, is generally blamed for the mishap, along with loose soil, earthquakes and lightning strikes. Among the buildings that survive are the 128 feet high audience hall, dance hall and dining hall. The staircase, which leads to the shrine, is flanked by stone sculptures of lions. On the walls are carvings depicting horses and couples in erotic poses. The ruins of two more temples have been discovered close to the main structure. One of them is dedicated to Mayadevi – a wife of Surya, and was built in the 11th century. Idols of Balarama, Varaha and Trivikarma are housed in the second of the two, which suggests that it was built by people from the Vaishnava sect. The idols of the chief presiding deity are missing in both the places of worship.
It is on the coast, about 2 km east of the Bay of Bengal. Konark is about 60 km from the state capital of Bhubaneshwar. Cabs and buses, taken from the railway station, get people to this famous tourist destination in about an hour, depending upon traffic conditions. Visitors cannot enter inside the building as it was closed, sealed and filled with sand in 1903.