Founded In: Thirteenth century
Dedicated to: Surya, the Sun God
Status: UNESCO World Heritage Site
Sun temple is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Konark.
The credit for constructing this 13th century old shrine, dedicated to
Sun God, goes to Raja Narsimhadeva of the Ganga dynasty. Konark Sun
Temple has been built in the form of a gigantic chariot that has 24
wheels. Each of the wheels is nearly 10 feet in diameter. The chariot is
drawn by seven horses. The temple, adorned with intricate and exquisite
sculptural work, holds the distinction of being one of the few UNESCO
World Heritage Sites in India.
There is an interesting legend associated with the Sun temple of
Konarak. It is said that Samba, the son of Lord Krishna and Jambavati,
committed the mistake of entering the bathing place of Lord Krishna's
wives. Angry at the act of his son, Lord Krishna cursed Samba with
leprosy and made a proclamation that he would be relieved of this curse
only when he worshipped Lord Surya with full devotion. Acting upon the
decree, Samba reached Konaditya Kshetra. There, he found the idol of Sun
God seated on a lotus.
The boy sincerely worshipped the Lord and was finally able to obtain
freedom from this punishment. One of the most striking features of the
Konark Sun temple consists of the extraordinary sculptures that depict
the various aspects of life. It also portrays the scenes from civil life
and war. Human love has been expressed in the most amazing manner. As
far as its designing is concerned, this temple is the one of its kind in
India. Every year, it serves as the venue for two festivals, the Konark
Dance Festival and the Sun Festival.