India houses some of the world’s finest and most marvelous temples. Each temple holds within itself a saga of the yesteryear, it tells so much about the people, the culture, the environment, the beliefs, the norms that were characteristic of the era.
The Sun temple of Konark in Orissa also referred to as the Black Pagoda, always finds a place in the most magnificent historical monuments of India. It has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO.
Konark, where language of rocks surpass the language of man
At Konark the language of the rocks is far more explicit than today’s developed dialects. You are imported to an era where eroticism was depicted most aesthetically, & sexuality was most beautiful and not a taboo. This colossal temple even in its ruins, stands tall, reflecting the genius of the architects who designed it. The mute voices of the rock cuttings reach your heart through your eyes. The intricacy and profusion of the sculptural work keeps you mesmerized if you are a connoisseur of architecture.
Though the structure was resurrected from ruins, you can easily make out that, the entire temple is a depiction of Sun God on his Chariot with 24 wheels and the ‘saptashwa” or “seven horses” dragging the same. Each wheel of the chariot is a piece of marvelous carvings; it has a set of spokes and breathtaking intricate carvings.
Two majestic lion sculptors, crushing elephants are placed at the entrance signifying the dominance of the dynasty which built it. It was a reflection of the statement that the Brahmins wanted to make over the Buddhists who were slowly rising and making indents into the Brahmin dominance. The spokes of the wheel it is said and believed were so designed that the shadows cast by it can tell the precise time of the day.
The Natamandir or the dance temple where the dancers used to pay homage to Sun God is at the entrance of the structure. The Konark dance Festival which sees dancers from all corners of India performing the different exquisite dance forms, in the most beautiful and elegant costumes, imports you to ‘Indralok’ or the ‘paradise’. This part of the structure though unroofed is well preserved and the base is decorated with motifs of rock cuttings, depicting animals, seasons etc.
This was built in the 13th century by Narshinghadeva of the Ganga Dynasty. With the invasion by the Mughal era’s Kalapahad, the temple was desecrated. It is said that though they could not destroy the temple because of the thickness of the rocks, they managed to remove the Arch stone which weakened the foundation of the temple. It is also said that the main arch of the temple had a lodestone which due to its magnetic properties held the structure together. The lodestar was eventually removed by sailors who often found their magnetic compass going haywire as they neared the Kalinga shore.
How to Reach
One of the most famous tourist places in Orissa and being just 85 kms from Puri Jagannath, it is well connected by Road, Rail and Air. If you are traveling by air, Bhubaneswar is the nearest airport; it is only 65 kms away from Konark. This airport connects all the major air destinations in India. The nearest railway station is again that of Puri and Bhubaneswar and is well connected.
The state and National highway connect Puri, Bhubaneswar and Konark forming the Golden Triangle of the East. As you head towards Puri from Konark, you drive down the Marine drive and are sure to be amazed by the captivating natural beauty of the landscape. The Chandrabhaga beach, one of the world’s finest beaches, though not explored to its maximum, is a marvel of nature.
On your way from Bhubaneswar to Puri , you pass through the Pipli village. The village’s colourful ambience, with handicrafts, popularly called pipli work , hanging everywhere, bowls you over. This place calls for a brief halt so that you can see how a form of art, handiwork is a means of livelihood for hundreds of families. A memorabilia from these collections will definitely be cherished for ever.
Where to stay in The Golden Triangle of the East
If you are in Konark you cannot miss visiting the Dhaulagiri Pagoda which is in the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. It is the famous historical site where the Great King Asoka gave up his thirst for power and took refuge in the principles of non-violence preached by Lord Budha. Here the statues of Lord Budha stand tall in all its serenity and divinity.
The Lingaraj temple of Bhubaneswar, another structure which has withstood the sands of time sings the glory of the Brahmin architecture. Each and every rock cutting on the wall of the temple has a story to tell, everything is depicted so aesthetically and beautifully that you are spellbound. And of course, the ‘must visit’ pilgrimage as per Hindu Belief, Puri Jagannath, is to be included in your itinary.
If you are visiting the Golden Triangle of the East, it is recommended that you stay at Puri. Besides the Jagannath temple, you have the Puri beach which offers you a great experience of bathing. From here you can hire a taxi for visit to Bhubaneswar and Konark. The entire town of Puri thrives on the tourism industry.
There is a hotel, guest house, holiday home fitting each pocket size. While Panthanivas, resort from Orissa Tourism and Development corporation, is one of the best and most sought after, you have hotels like Puri Hotel, Pulin Puri, Sea Hawk, Holiday Inn which offer from economy to business class accommodations. However, there is a need to be careful of the local touts, guides, rickshaw pullers who offer you help for finding an accommodation.
It is highly recommended that you do a proper research and check in a hotel with good rating. My general impression is that though the town thrives on hospitality industry, the local people do not go by the rules of the service industry where customer is the King. Here the tourism industry is quite unorganized.
Nevertheless, the place has something about itself, which attracts you; quite like that Lodestone of the KONARK Temple; there is a difference though, it does not attract metals, it attracts souls.
Photo Credit: Asi.nic.in