Konark – The Sun Temple

The Sun temple, also known as Konark, India is a Hindu temple from XIII century, dedicated to Surya the God of sun. Even destroyed, the sun temple is a magnificent representation of the chariot of the God-sun. The earl of Ronaldshai describes the sun temple as „one of the most astounding building…a pile, amazing with splendor even in its decline”. The Sun temple is deemed for summit of the Hindu architecture „Orisan”. The temple is specified as unique from the point of view of the sculptural novelties and the quality of the engraving.

Konark Sun Temple

Source: By Chaitali Chowdhury – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia

The name Konark originates from the combination of Sanskrit words – kona (corner or corner) and arka (sun). It is deemed, that the temple was built by king Narasimha І in 1255 A.D. He reigned within the period 1238 and 1264. The proof, that this king has ordered the building of the sun temple are the reliefs, which depict and social life scenes.

The Sun temple complex is a sanctuary, which was built in order to immortalize the war victory of Narasimha over the Muslims, by which he legitimated his right to rule India as a chosen of God.

The sun temple initially was built on the mouth of Chandrabhaga river, but since then the waterline has decreased. Konark was built in the form of a giant and splendidly ornamented chariot of the sun god Surya with exquisitely carved stone wheels, column and walls. The sun temple follows the traditional style of the architecture of Kalinga. It is carefully orientated towards East, so the first sun beams of the sunrise to bathe the main entrance in light. A big part of the structure is in ruins now. The temple is announced for object of the world cultural heritage of UNESCO and is also included in the list of the Seven wonders of India.

Konark Temple Panorama

Source: By Alokprasad84 – Own work, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia

Taking a look of architectural point of view, the sun temple consists of three consecutively situated parts – a main sanctuary, which is connected with an entrance and a prayer hall, in front of which there is a dancing hall with columns. The sun temple has at its disposal twelve couples complexly carved stone wheels, which are wide 3 meters and are drawn by seven horses (4 in right and 3 in left). These wheels decorate the exterior and the entrance hall. Today is preserved only one horse out of the seven. The lower cornices between the wheels decorate the temple with love couples, dancing girls and nymphs. The role of the erotic scenes in decoration is still not established, but there exist theses, that their purpose is to dispel the evil and to bode the good.

The roof and the part above the foundations of the basic sanctuary, reached up to 69 meters height, today they do not exist anymore, since they collapsed during XIX century. The narthex of the sun temple has preserved its pyramidal structure, but it cannot be entered in it, since the whole building is filled with sand and stones during XIX century, in order to be prevented its demolition. Like most of the temples, the sun temple is built from the land on a plinth. By this is emphasized its sacred character.