13th Century Marvel: Konark Sun Temple, Odisha

My visit to Odisha was long pending, finally happened this month. While it is a large state with so many things to offer, I could get quick glimpse of Puri, Konark and Bhubaneshwar in this trip. This post talks about the UNESCO World Heritage site Konark Sun temple, while I have more posts coming up on other places in Odisha.

Konark Sun Temple is a historic, 13th century temple complex in Odisha. Built by Ganga Dynasty's Raja Narasimhadeva. Konark Sun temple is about 35 kms from Puri. I did a quick morning visit to Konark from Puri and this post shares my visit experience and photos of the temple.

Beautiful part of Konark Sun temple are several stone wheels, designed to look like wheels of the chariot. No two wheels are exactly same. The carvings on each hub, spoke and wheel rim are different. A total of 24 wheels exist and about 7 horses were supposed to be pulling it.

Unfortunately many of the wheel sculptures have sustained lots of damage-the cause of damage is not 100% certain- some say it is manually destroyed by invading Mughal/muslim armies while others suspect the damage is due to long term exposure to salty weather as the temple is very close to ocean. I was told ASI is trying to conserve whatever is left from further damage, by planning to remove them, store them somewhere safe and replace with fake/replacement artefacts for tourist attraction. probably ASI has concluded that temple structure is not safe and may not last longer - best to dismantle and relocate somewhere safe.




The wheels are also supposed to work as time dials and help identify time. That is on a sunny day and if you can read how to interpret the light.

Trivia: Have you noticed one of these wheels is featured on the new Rs 10 currency note in India.

Few of my facebook friends said they had seen the main temple in same status way back in 2016 as well. It seems the structure has got too weak to stand on its own without external support. The main temple complex is not open for tourists. The deity are removed, nothing much to see inside. I could see some of the doors being shut with bricks. - Notice the bricks in the area that should have had a door.

You can read some of the older blog posts on Sun temple-like this one by Priyanka, you can see some statues and also visitors allowed under the scaffolding. Now it looks like many things are gone.

The door keepers..

 Intricate carvings are worth taking a closer look.
Some horse sculptures are seen in the campus


 Some sculptures being held in place by external support
Konark Sun Temple: Visitor Information:
  • Entry fee is Rs 40 for Indians, Rs 100 for international guests
  • Timing: 6 AM to 8 PM, all days of the week
  • Time to spend: Min 30 minutes, max few hours
  • What else to do nearby: Visit Chandrabagha beach, 3 kms from temple
  • Facilities available: Toilet, basic eateries and shops, few tender coconut shops
  • For stay, visit Konark town or head to Puri.
You can hire a guide at the campus who will tell you more about the sun temple, what happened to it, the truth, exaggerated truth and the convenient truth. Lots of photographers in the area trying to earn a livelihood by taking photo of tourists in the backdrop of the temple- with everyone taking selfies, not much demand for them. 80 rupees for a spot photo and one person said "For 10 rupees I can take your photo from your own mobile, why struggle with selfie"- probably shows their level of desperation.

10 comments:

  1. Good to know there are tender coconut shops nearby... I was there a few years ago it was then also in Scaffoldings for repairs..

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  2. Great to read. Beautiful pics from Konark Sun temple trip.

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  3. The sculpted guardians along the stairs reminds me of the Nepal temple guards. Lovely account. Been wanting to get there. Fingers crossed!

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  4. Very nice captures and so also to go through this post, i visited this place eight years sago and seen the same status as i can see in this post, the door is closed even then with the bricks. i am too much anxious to know what is there inside.

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    1. Thanks for your inputs. I guess some deities and other typical temple artefacts would have been inside, now moved somewhere safe

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  5. Great pics, Shrinidhi.
    Do wish there was no scaffolding and ASI didn't have to remove sculptures in the name of conservation.
    Glad you could finally visit Odisha.

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