Having spent the early sun hours at Lord Jagannath temple in Puri, considered as one of the cardinal pilgrimage sites for Hindus i asked my taxi driver if a quick sun salutation to Konark Sun temple was possible before i catch a flight back home. After calculating the time he nodded with affirmation.
He drives me along the coast to reach the Konark – the magnificent sun temple which is the epitome of orissan architecture and the state’s sculptural finesse . Built in 13th century by the king Narasimhadeva, it derives its name from the presiding deity Konarka meaning orka – the sun and kona – corner. It was dedicated to the sun god Surya. It is also one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I make my way to the entrance after going past rows of shops selling souvenirs, hats and accessories made from shells. I get the first glace amidst the selfie taking tourists – a portion of temple covered with bamboo sticks for restoration work. While thinking how my photos would turn out with those bamboos everywhere i suddenly get a overwhelming number of guides asking me to hire them. They go to the length by saying you will not understand anything if you don’t take a guide along with you. I recall my guide experience at Angkor Wat, and decided not to hire one and figure out myself.
After crossing the porch, I came across the main section of sun temple which was planned to look like a massive chariot with 12 pairs of ornamented wheels. These wheels signify 12 months of a year. On a closer look of these wheels, they are lavishly crafted with incredible details of deities, birds, sculptures, motifs from everyday life. The fact that it has stood for over 7 centuries is the testament of the amazing engineering and artistry of the by gone era.
How to reach Konark sun temple?
By air: Bhubaneswar city is the closest with airport about 64 km away.
By train: The railway stations nearest to Konark are located in Puri and Bhubaneswar. These stations are linked with almost all the major destinations in India by train.
By road: The National and State Highways link Konark with Puri and Bhubaneswar. Hiring a taxi is the best way of travel between Puri and Konark. There are good number of transport buses as well as private coaches plying from both the cities.
For Indians: Rs. 30 and for foreigners: Rs. 500
Timing: 6am to 8pm
Where to stay: Since Konark and Puri are close to each other and can be covered within a day trip from Bhubaneswar, it is ideal to stay to be in the city. I stayed in Ginger Hotel.
Sustainable travel tips:
- Being an ancient world heritage site which is already dwindling with age, respect the structures by not sitting on them. Sit outside the temple in the garden.
- Do not harm the structures by carving or writing on it
- Do not enter places which are closed off, there’s a reason why they are closed.
- Throw your garbage in the dustbins located at the entrance of each temple.
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