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Konark Temple The name Konark derives from the combination of the Sanskrit words, Kona(corner) and Arka

(sun), in reference to the temple which was dedicated to the Sun god Surya. The monument was also called the Black Pagoda by European sailors. In contrast, the Jagannath Temple in Puri was called the White Pagoda. Both temples served as important landmarks for the sailors.


Original temple compared to the surviving structure (yellow)

Plan of the temple (top-side is west)

The temple was originally built at the mouth of the river Chandrabhaga, but the waterline has receded since then. The temple has been built in the form of a giant ornamented chariot of the Sun god,Surya. It has twelve pairs of elaborately carved stone wheels some of which are 3 meters wide and is pulled by seven pairs of horses. The temple follows the traditional style of Kalinga architecture. It is carefully

oriented towards the east so that the first rays of sunrise strikes the principal entrance. built from Khondalite rocks.


The temple is

Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man.

Rabindranath Tagore

The original temple had a main sanctum sanctorum (vimana), which was supposedly 229 feet (70 m) tall. But it has fallen off. The audience hall (Jagamohana), which is about 128 feet (30 m) tall, still stands and is the principal structure in the surviving ruins. Among the structures, which have survived to the current day, are the dance hall (Nata mandira) and dining hall (Bhoga mandapa). The Konark temple is also known for its erotic sculptures of maithunas. Two smaller ruined temples have been discovered nearby. One of them is called the Mayadevi Temple and is located southwest from the entrance of the main temple. It is presumed to have been dedicated to Mayadevi, one of the Sun god's wives. It has been dated to the late 11th century, earlier than the main temple. The other one belongs to some unknown Vaishnavadeity. Sculptures of Balarama, Varaha and Trivikrama have been found at the site, indicating it to be a Vaishnavite temple. Both temples have their primary idols missing. A collection of fallen sculptures can be viewed at the Konark Archaeological Museum which is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Ancient Texts
According to Bhavishya Purana and Samba Purana, there may have been a sun temple in the region [13] earlier than current one, dating to the 9th century or earlier. The books mention three sun temples at Mundira (possibly Konark), Kalapriya (Mathura), and Multan. According to the scriptures, Samba, the son of Krishna, was cursed with leprosy. He was advised by the sage, Kataka, to worship the sun god to cure his aliment. Samba underwent penance for 12 years in Mitravana near the shores of Chandrabhaga. Both the original Konark temple and the Multan temple have been attributed to Samba. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (1st Century CE) mentions a port called Kainapara, which has been identified as current day Konark.

Second Temple
According to the Madala Panji, there was another temple in the region. It was built by one Pundara Kesari. He may have been Puranjaya, the 7th century ruler, of the Somavasmi Dynasty dynasty.

Narasimhadeva I

The current temple is attributed to Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. His reign spanned from 1238 to 1264 CE. The temple may have been a monument to his victory against Tughral Tughan Khan

Dharmapada's Tale
According to local folklore, Narasimhadeva I had hired a chief architect called Bisu Maharana to build the temple. After a period of twelve years, a workforce of twelve thousand almost finished the construction. But, they failed to mount the crown stone. The impatient king ordered the temple to be finished in three days or the artisans be put to death. At the time, Bisu Maharana's twelve year old son, Dharmapada arrived at the site. Bisu Maharana had never seen his son, as he had left his village when his wife was still pregnant. Dharmapada successfully proposed a solution to mount the crown stone. But, the artisans were still apprehensive that the king will be displeased to learn that a boy succeeded where his best artisans failed. Dharmapada climbed onto the temple and lept into the water to save his father and his coworkers


A lithography plate from James Fergusson's 'Ancient Architecture in Hindoostan' (1847). It depicts part of the main tower still standing.

There have been several proposed theories for the collapse of the main sanctum. The date of the collapse is also not certain. The Kenduli copper plates of Narasimha IV (Saka 1305 or 1384 CE) states the temple to be in a perfect state. In the 16th century Ain-i-Akbari, Abul Fazl also mentions Konark being in a proper state. The account also mentions the cost of construction being 12 years of revenue. The cause of collapse is also placed on Kalapahad who invaded Odisha in 1568. In 1627, the then Raja of Khurda had removed the sun idol from Konark and moved it to theJagannath temple in Puri James Fergusson (18081886) had the opinion that marshy foundation had caused the collapse But, the structure has shown no sign of sinking into its foundation. Fergusson, who visited the temple in 1837, recorded a corner of the main sanctum still standing. It also fell down in 1848 due to a strong gale. According to Percy Brown (18721955), the temple was not properly completed and so it collapsed. This contradicts earlier recorded accounts of the temple being in a proper state.

In 1929, an analysis of a moss covered rock estimated the date of abandonment at around 1573. Other proposed causes include lighting and earthquake.