When we are away from home, only then we realize that things we take for granted – including our family and friends – are so different. This feeling gives us happiness and we rediscover our bonding with them.
Keeping this in mind, we formed a small group of family friends at Kolkata and decided, after some brief deliberations, to visit Konark – the famous Sun temple in Orissa which is also declared as a heritage site. It was a weekend overnight journey. Our train, Puri express departed from Howrah station at Kolkata in the evening.
The train reached Puri station on time. After coming out of the station we went to a nearby restaurant to have our breakfast. We arranged for a cab thereafter that took about an hour to reach Konark.
Dedicated to the Sun God, Konark is one of the well known tourist spots of Orissa. It attracts tourists from all over the world. Bhubaneswar housing the Lingaraj Shiva temple and Puri housing the famous Lord Jagannath temple, the two other nearby places of worship together with Puri form a Golden triangle. It is a must-visit for every tourist visiting Odisha since all the three places are in close proximity of about 60 kilometers.
The makers of Konark temple built the temple reflecting mastery of architectural techniques of the by-gone days. The words Kona means Corner and Arka means Sun, joined together to form the name Konark. The other name for Konark is Konaditya. As the Jagannath temple in Puri is known as Chakrakshetra, Konark is similarly known as Arkakshetra.
As the sayings go, King Narasimha Deva built this temple in 1278 CE. The temple was submerged under sea and it was discovered after excavation in late 19th century. European Sailors who visited during their coastal voyage named the temple as ‘The Black Pagoda’. The sole occupant of the temple, Jagmohana remained hale and hearty even after withstanding nature’s fury under the sea.
As we went round the temple, I showed the children in the group and explained to them of how the Temple was conceived and built as a Chariot with 24 wheels of 10 feet diameter dragged by seven horses. The entrance of the Chariot temple is guarded by two lions, intricately designed reflecting heavenly architectural beauty of sculpture. The four walls around the temple are full of images of men, horses and horse mounted warriors apart from famous carvings of erotic love scenes of maithunas. The temple has three images of the Sun God that are set in different angles so as to receive sun showers in abundance throughout morning, noon and at sunset.
Around the Sun Temple, many smaller temples of Shivalingas known by various other names like Utpaleswar, Tribeniswara, Chitreswara and Rameswar and various forms of Durga like Chitreswari, Charchika, Ramachandi Rudrani, Khileswari, are found.
A reference of Lord Krishna’s son Samba who unknowingly entered the bathing area of his mother and later invited his father’s anger and curse resulting in punishment for 12 years says that he sat in front of the sea at Konark to please God Surya, the healer of all skin diseases, and received his blessings and got cured of his illness. In return Samba erected a temple dedicated to the Sun God, the same place where the Sun Temple constructed by King Narasimha Deva stands.
After spending more than an hour at the temple admiring the beauty of its architecture and the place in particular, we realized that all of us were hungry and looked for some good eateries outside the temple complex. In one of the restaurants we found South Indian food and ordered for the same. Since we were in a group, we were enjoying every moment of the trip. Some of us reminisced the times when we visited the temple as youngsters accompanied by our parents and how it used to be our favourite summer holiday getaway during those days. It is a coincidence that today our kids accompany us to this same place and this made me even more happy.
After completing the visit of the Sun Temple and other temples of Hindu deities nearby, we decided to visit the beautiful sea shore about half a kilometer behind the Sun Temple.
It was nearing sunset by the time we decided to take our onward journey from there. The cool breeze emanating from the sea embraced and greeted us, whispering in our ears a request to extend our stay for a longer duration. But since it was a weekend tour and we were to return home the next day, we had to leave the place promising to come at the earliest opportunity possible.
How to reach Konark
Regular Bus services and Cabs are available from Puri which is about 35 Kms from Konark. Alternatively plenty of auto rickshaws at a charge of Rs. 250 to 300 to and fro are available. From Bhubaneshwar official guided tours leave for Konark every Tuesday and Sunday at 06:30 AM. The nearest Airport is at Bhubaneswar. Nearest Railway stations are at Bhubaneswar and Puri.
Hotels & Restaurants
There are some good hotels at Konark. These can be booked online or on arrival at the location. Similarly, many good restaurants are also available that serve Indian dishes. Alternatively staying arrangements can be made at Puri or Bhubaneshwar since Konark is easily accessible from both these places.
– SS DE