Konark (or Konarak) is a small town in the state of Orissa, India, on the Bay of Bengal, sixty-five kilometres from Bhubaneswar.
Konark is the site of the 13th-century Sun Temple (also known as the Black Pagoda), built in black granite by King Narasimhadeva. The temple is one of the most important Brahman sanctuaries, and is a world heritage site. It takes the form of the chariot of Surya, the sun god, and is heavily decorated with stone carving. The temple is now partly in ruins, and a collection of its sculptures is housed in the Sun Temple Museum, which is run by the Archaeological Survey of India. The poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote of Konark: "here the language of stone surpasses the language of man". Konark is also home to an annual dance festival, held every December, devoted to classical Indian dance forms, including the traditional classical dance of Orissa, odissi.
Konark beach is a popular tourist destination, though the waters are deceptively calm. Its main attraction lies in its views of the temple.
Konark is also known as Konaditya. The name Konark is derived form the words Kona - Corner and Arka - Sun; it is situated on the north eastern corner of Puri or the Chakrakshetra. Konark is also known as Arkakshetra. The city of Konark lies in the eastern state of Orissa, India approximately 65 km from the capital Bhubaneshwar and 35 km from Puri.
This temple built in 1278 CE by the Ganga King Narasimha Deva is one of the grandest temples of India and was referred to as the Black Pagoda. The ruins of this temple were excavated in late 19th century. The tower over the Garbagriha is missing, however the Jagmohana is intact, and even in this state, it is awe inspiring.
Legend has it that Samba, the king of Krishna and Jambavati entered the bathing chamber of Krishna's wifes, and was cursed by Krishna with leprosy. It was decreed that he would be relieved of the curse by worshipping the sun God on the sea coast north east of Puri. Accordingly Samba reached Konaditya Kshetra and discovered an image of Surya seated on the lotus, worshipped him and was relieved of his curse.
It is said that the temple was not completed as conceived because the foundation was not strong enough to bear the weight of the heavy dome. Local beleif has it that it was constructed in entirety, however its magnetic dome caused ships to crash near the seashore, and that the dome was removed and destroyed and that the image of the Sun God was taken to Puri.
The Temple: The Konark temple is widely known not only for its architectural grandeur but also for the intricacy and profusion of sculptural work. The entire temple has been conceived as a chariot of the sun god with 24 wheels, each about 10 feet in diameter, with a set of spokes and elaborate carvings. Seven horses drag the temple. Two lions guard the entrance, crushing elephants. A flight of steps lead to the main entrance.
The nata mandir in front of the Jagamohana is also intricately carved. Around the base of the temple, and up the walls and roof, are carvings in the erotic style. There are images of animals, foliage, men, warriors on horses and other interesting patterns. There are three images of the Sun God, positioned to catch the rays of the sun at dawn, noon and sunset.