Sun Temple Konark – Chariots of Fire

Posted On : 15-3-2018
Sun Temple Konark – Chariots of Fire

The Sun temple at Konarak is located about 35 km northeast from Puri, Odisha. It was also famous with the name of “Black Pagoda” in the European sailor's account. It is dedicated to Indian god Surya (sun).


Discovered in 1902, the removal of debris and sand revealed a temple dedicated to Surya, the Sun God and represents the culmination of centuries of experience in temple building. It is the 13th century CE sun temple. The temple is accredited to king Narasimhadeva. Planning and construction records of sun temple have been preserved in the form of palm-leaf manuscripts. These records were being written in Sanskrit in the Odiya script.

Tradition visualizes Surya standing in Time’s winged chariot urging on his team of seven horses and blazing his way through the heavens. These he invokes so that “When he has loosed his courses from their station / Straightaway night overall spread her garments.- (Rigveda 11.115.4)”


This allegory is frozen into visual form in stone in the shape of a ratha (chariot) or wheeled car pulled by the seven horses of the sun. The base thus is an immense terrace with 12 giant wheels fixed on either side, every 10 feet in diameter representing the 12 months of the year and each wheel represents the eight pahars (quarters) into which day and night are divided. The steps in front of this terrace are supported by seven horses representing the seven days of the week.

On the platform, the temple building consists of a Jagamohan (an assembly hall), 100 feet wide and 100 feet high and a sanctum sanctorum with a sikhara (tower) over 225 feet, was built. At its base, a life-size and minutely carved statue of the Sun God reflects his glory at sunrise, noon and sunset.

Most of the masonry in this monument is composed of blocks of laterite and chlorite, but the bonding was not done by mortar but by a system of counter-poise. The entire exterior of the monument has been molded and chiselled in the form of abstract geometrical ornaments, fabulous beings, half-human, and half-divine figures and every known subject, motif and technique. The erotic sculptures on the exterior were used as an art form, as a cathartic agent, as a symbolic representation of worldly pleasure contrasting with the bare and austere interior. Also as an interpretation that the sun warms all life and thus everything is sacred from the most carnal, to the most refined.

To emphasize our philosophical discussion we quote from Tagore, “God is enshrined in our hearts. He stands amid life and death, joy and sorrow, separation and union. This life is his eternal temple.”

How to reach Konark Sun Temple?

Konark is well linked to all the major parts of the country by air, rail as well as road.

How to reach Konark by Air?

Bhubaneswar airport is the nearest airport from Konark. It is located at a distance of 64 km away. An easy transport facility is available from the airport to reach Konark.

How to reach Konark by Rail?

Puri is the closest railway station to Konark. It is located at a distance of 31 km. Pre-paid taxis are available from the railway station to Konark.

How to reach Konark by Road?

Konark is well linked to other cities through the Odisha State Public Transport buses. These buses are very economical but not well maintained. It is well connected to the rest of the country via National and state highways.