Sun Temple of Konark - History and Facts | History Hit

Sun Temple of Konark

Konark, Odisha, India

The Sun Temple of Konark is an iconic thirteenth century Hindu Temple listed as a UNESCO site.

Image Credit: Stephane Bidouze / Shutterstock

About Sun Temple of Konark

The Sun Temple of Konark, spelt by some as Konarak and sometimes called the “Black Pagoda”, in India is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

History of the Sun Temple, Konark

The temple was commissioned in approximately 1250AD by King Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty, thought to be a celebration of his military victory over the Muslims. Constructed in honour of Surya, the Hindu deity of the sun, the Sun Temple of Konark is designed as a representation of this deity’s horse-drawn chariot, complete with (originally seven) horses and giant wheels.

This effect is created through the external decoration of two of the buildings of the Sun Temple of Konark – the entrance hall and the main shrine.

The temple was only actually in use for about 300 years: the 40m high spire collapsed (in part at lease) in the late 16th century. The exact cause of this is unknown and historians have speculated as to whether it was ransacked, hit by a cyclone or the copper was taken for profit.

In the 19th century, the British made an effort to restore and conserve the temple in recognition of its importance. The site was granted UNESCO World Heritage site status in 1984.

The Sun Temple today 

With numerous intricately decorated stone buildings and the magnificence of its pyramid-like entrance hall, the Sun Temple of Konark is a popular tourist attraction. It opens at dawn, so go early to avoid the crowds, and expect to spend a couple of hours here.

Guides will offer up their services, and it’s worth searching out a government approved guide as they can be extremely enlightening, particularly on some of the subtler artistic and architectural details. Keep an eye out for the erotic sculptures!

There’s also a small archaeological museum which is certainly worth a visit.

Getting to the Sun Temple of Konark

Konark is just inland (c. 3km) from the east coast of India, and makes for a popular day trip from the nearby Bhubaneswar or Puri.

You can book Bhubaneswar to Puri trains and then take a taxi to reach the temple. The nearest Airport to Konark Sun Temple: Bhubaneswar Airport or Biju Patnaik International Airport is 65 kilometres and around an hour-long drive from the Konark Sun Temple.

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