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Magnificent Stone Carvings at the Legendary Sun Temple at Konark in India

Updated on March 10, 2015

Konark Temple - An Architectural Grandeur

Taking a 35 kms long drive from the temple town of Puri in Odisha (earlier Orissa) state along the coast line of Bay of Bengal in India and culminating this delightful drive along the seashore at a small town called Konark will make you to land at a UNESCO World Heritage Site called Konark Sun Temple. The enchantment of beauty of sunrise and roar of the sea in this area might have prompted its ruler in the 13th century to construct a magnificent temple which can be termed as a display of unparalleled architectural mastery. Today, it is in ruins but the grandeur of this masterpiece can still be experienced and enjoyed. That is why it is an important destination for the tourists who visit this part of the world.

I will take you to Konark to have a glimpse of this architectural grandeur.

The Structure


The structure of this historical temple can be appreciated by imagining a chariot of the Sun God which is run on 12 pairs of wheels and pulled by 7 horses. These 12 wheels are superbly carved and each of these wheels is representing a month of the year. The 7 horses represent the days of the week. The gigantic chariot is pulling the Sun God while performing journey across the skies.

King Narasimhadeva, who ruled the Eastern Ganga Dynasty between 1238-1250 CE got it constructed using oxidised and weathered ferruginous sandstone and this continued to be referred as the Black Pagoda for centuries. The structure remained as a landmark for those having sea voyage in that area.


The Stone carvings - The ruins of the Temple

Almost every inch of the Sun Temple is carved. The stone carvings in the temple represent:

(a) Deities
(b) Dancers
(c) Hunting
(d) Military battles
(e) Birds and Animals
(f) Erotic sculptures
(g) Musicians and
(h) Mythological creatures.

These are different dimension, ranging from miniatures to giants.
One has to imagine the richness of these stone carvings by only watching the ruins that are exhibited now and put these heavily decorated stuctures into the historical perspective to appreciate their richness. The natural surroundings of the Temple with a wide variety of trees planted around also is a pleasant experience.

Panoramic View of Sun Temple


The panoramic view of the great structure can also suggest the amount of work and the number of men involved in creating it. It is a matter of satisfaction that the structure is being maintained and the remaining parts of the ruins are preserved for the next generations to have a glimpse of this historic attraction.

Entrance of the Temple


As per old traditions the entrance of Konark Sun Temple is guarded by two giant lions. Each lion is in the act of crushing a war elephant. Elephants lie on top of a human body. These sculptures depict the pride of the Lion and elephant as money. Both money and pride crush man. All the three are shown in the image below in detail.

A close view of the Sculptures at the Entrance

Sculpture of Giant Lion, Elephant and Man
Sculpture of Giant Lion, Elephant and Man | Source

Odissi Dance with the Temple in the Background


It might be a great privilege of the dancer to perform here and also make an effort to keep the Odissi dance and art alive.

Interior and Other parts of the Temple


One has to watch very minutely each and every figure carved out of the stones to appreciate the beauty of this Temple. Some parts of these figures are erotic also, specially on the second level of this structure,

Interior Parts


Not only out parts of the Temple but even interiors are covered by these stone carvings. There are carvings and carving all around and one wonders about the dedication of the artisans who raised this structure.

Night View of the Temple


Stones look elegant during night and this Pagoda like structure looks gorgeous. Even after eight centuries of its existence the stone do not lose their magnificence.

Another Night View


Even ruins can give so majestic looking in flashlight, it enhances the looks of this ancient Temple.

Know more about the Sun Temple in Historical Perspective

Your experience about stone carvings?

Have you ever visited a Temple with stone carvings all around it?

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