| Location: 33-kms from Puri, Orissa
Main Attractions: Sun Temple, Konark Beach , Konark Dance Festival
Reigning Deity: Lord Surya
Also Known As: Black Pagoda
The Language Of The Stone
Konark, also known as "Arka-Tirtha", is known for its temple of Lord Surya, the sun god. It is situated on the seashore, 33-km north of Puri and 64-km from Bhubaneswar. It was constructed of black stone in the beginning of the 13th century, and it is considered one of the most vivid architectural showpieces of Hindu India. Despite the fact that the 'Black Pagoda' is in ruins, the remaining porch area and other structures of this temple complex remain as a crown jewel of Orissan artwork.
Mistaking the sea at Puri for the Yamuna River, Sri Chaitanya jumped in and was washed by the ocean 33-km north to the Konark area, where an astonished fisherman caught him in his net.
The Sun Temple
The Orissan King 'Raja Narasimha Deva' built this temple in the 13th century. It took 1,200 workmen over 16 years to build. It is believed that the temple was no longer used from the early 17th century when the temple was desecrated by Muslim invaders. In 1904 the sand around the temple base was cleared.
This impressive temple resembles a huge chariot with 24 huge wheels being pulled by seven horses. Great pairs of large intricately carved wheels were carved on both sides of the 4m high platform that the temple is on. There are two rows of 12 wheels on each side of the temple. Some say the wheels represent the 24 hours in a day and others say the 12 months. The seven horses are said to symbolize the seven days of the week. There is a dancing hall here, an audience hall and a high tower too. This temple was once called the Black Pagoda by sailors because it was supposed to draw ships into the shore and cause shipwrecks.
The Sun Temple Museum
The Sun Temple Museum run by the Archaeological Survey of India has a excellent collection of sculptures from the temple ruins. One can also purchase the "Archaeological Survey of India's Sun Temple-Konark" from here. It is not sold at the temple itself.
This place approachable by jeeps is just 8-kms from Konark. Recent excavations have brought this small village into the limelight with the discovery of antique images of Buddha seated in "Bhumispara Mudra" along with the image of "Heruka".
Here one may visit the shrines of 'Laxminarayanan', 'Amareshras' and 'Barahi'. Barahi is a deity dating back to the 9th Century AD and is worshipped according to tantric practices. She is a mother goddess with the face of a boar and is holding a fish in one hand and a cup in the other.
7-kms from Konark, it is accessible by road (Marine drive). Ramachandi is situated at the confluence of the River Kusabhadra and the Bay of Bengal. It is a beautiful spot and Goddess Ramachandi, the deity of Konark, is worshipped here.
Washed by the clear blue waters of the Bay of Bengal it really lives upto its name. 'Astranga' literally means varied colours. 55-kms from Konark, the sunset is a spectacular scene. It is a famous fishing harbour.
Kakatapur lies 45-kms from Konark. Well connected by regular bus services from Puri Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack . It is situated in the Prachi valley and is known for the shrines of Goddess 'Mangala' and 'Banadurga'. Legend has it that direction for locating the holy log from which is created the icon of Lord Jagannatha comes from her. The much-famed 'Jhamu Yatra' is celebrated in April - May where the devotees walk over a narrow trench strewn with lighted embers. It is a major festival here.
Pipli (44-kms) Pipli, close to Konark, is a centre for applique work.