Konark (lat. 19.53’N; long. 86.06’E) is a small town in Puri district. The Bay of Bengal is barely 4 kilometres away. It is 70 km from Bhubaneswar. The name Konark is a variant of Konark which means the Arka (Sun) of Kona (corner), the corner is that of Trikona on the bank of the Kushabhadra.
The magnificent Sun Temple at Konark is the culmination of Orissan temple architecture, and one of the most stunning monuments of religious architecture in the world. The poet Rabindranath Tagore said of Konark that ‘here the language of stone surpasses the language of man’, and it is true that the experience of Konark is impossible to translate into words.
Built by King Narasimhadeva in the thirteenth century, the entire temple was designed in the shape of a colossal chariot, carrying the sun god, Surya, across the heavens. The Sun – God’s chariot, also represents the seven days of the week, and the 24 hours of the day, in its concept.
The temple is a brilliant chronicle in stone, with impressive sculptures. Every aspect of life is represented here, and the erotic imagery depicts the sublimation of human love manifested in countless forms. Scenes from the court, civic life and war are also done with great precision.
The Sun Temple of Konark marks the highest point of achievement of Kalinga architecture depicting the grace, the joy and the rhythm of life all its wondrous variety.
There is an endless wealth of decoration from minute patterns in bas-relief done with a jeweller’s precision to boldly modelled free-standing sculptures of exceptionally large size.
Under the crackling wheels of past events, the Sun Temple has lost its main sanctuary but the remaining structure and the ruins around testify till today the boundless creative energy of Orissan artists and their impressive contribution to the treasury of Indian Art and building technique.
Standing majestically on the sandy coast of the Bay of Bengal, the porch, in its solitary grandeur is an eloquent testimony of a gracious and mysterious past.