The Konark Sun Temple stands right at the edge of a beach on a deserted stretch of coast in Orissa, at the Bay of Bengal. For centuries, the tall building of the temple was used by sailors navigating to the shore. It was called the “Black Pagoda,” to distinguish it from the famous Jagannatha Temple 20 miles up the coast, which was referred to as the “White Pagoda.” Today, the Sun Temple stands nearly two miles from the ocean, but originally the sea came to within a few yards of the walled enclosure. In times of storm during the monsoons, flood tides still advance menacingly toward it.
About the Temple
The 800-year-old temple was constructed in the form of a gigantic chariot of Surya, the sun god, emerging from the ocean. The chariot has 24 enormous wheels and is drawn by seven great stone horses. The temple finds mention in some of the ancient Indian scriptures such as the Garuda Purana, where it is listed as a sacred site for the worship of the sun, or Suryanamaskar.
Traveling to Konark
The nearest airport to Konark is at Bhubaneshwar, the capital city of the state of Orissa. Bhubaneshwar is well connected with all major cities in India. MakeMyTrip is a well-regarded air travel booking website in India. From Bhubaneshwar, a taxi can cover the distance of 40 miles to Konark.
Things to Do
The earlier you arrive, the better your chances of enjoying this World Heritage Site in peace. It would be a good idea to avoid visiting Konark on weekends, as it is generally packed with domestic tourists going on a quick pilgrimage to various sites in Orissa. Spend some time exploring the architecture. The temple is covered with beautifully sculpted scenes depicting everyday acts of life. The sanctum of the temple has collapsed inward, so it is no longer possible to enter the building itself, but the exteriors offer ample evidence of the skill and competence of the architects and sculptors.
If you are a connoisseur of Indian art and culture, schedule your trip in December to catch the 5-day Konark Dance Festival. The festival attracts some of India’s most renowned performers, and is a treat to watch. The performances by some of the country’s most sought-after dancers. The traditional dance performances accompanied by Indian traditional music set against the magical backdrop of the ancient monument create a remarkable ambiance.