Konark – Most Popular Pilgrim Places in the Country
By Smitakshi Guha
Located on the coast of Bay of Bengal in Puri city in the Indian state of Odisha, Konark is a medium town extremely famous for its ancient religious significance in history that has turned it into one of the most popular pilgrim places in the country. It is globally renowned for the Konark Temple and the fact that it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has made it to a variety of lists of Seven Wonders of the World makes it an even more popular pilgrim center among the masses of the country.
The Konark Temple is a sun temple that was built in the 13th century. It is said that it was built by popular ruler King Narasimhadeva I from the Eastern Ganga Dynasty during the year as early as 1250 CE.
The temple is a true and beautiful depiction of architecture through stones, and is in a grand shape of a chariot, filled with walls, pillars, as well as stone wheels. The Konark Temple is dedicated to Surya, the sun god in Hindu culture, and the world Konark, a Sanskrit term, means a corner of sun.
While it is commonly known as the Konark Sun Temple, European sailors on their visit to the place named it the Black Pagoda, while they called the Jagannath Temple—another popular holy shrine in Puri, the White Pagoda.
The temple vividly displays authentic Kalinga architecture made with Khondalite rocks, and the vision during its construction was to shape it up in the form of Lord Surya’s chariot. The structure consists of 12 pairs of flawlessly stone carved wheels, which measure 3 meters in width, all of them pulled by seven horses, just like a chariot would be. Given the fact that the sun rises from the east, the whole temple is oriented towards the same direction, with the simple concept that the first rays of sunlight every morning would penetrate through the main entrance of the temple.
Although a major chunk of the structure has deteriorated over the years, the temple still continues to attract tourist attention from all over the world given its rich history and religious significance. Fallen scriptures and other stuff from the deteriorated bits of the temple are preserved in the Konark Archeological Museum, administered and maintained by the Archeological Survey of India. The museum is of course open for tourist visits.
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