A sun temple is a building used for spiritual or religious activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, dedicated to the sun or solar deity. On the shores of the Bay of Bengal, at Konark in Odisha, bathed in the rays of the rising sun, there is a temple which is a monumental representation of the sun god Surya.
The temple complex is in the shape of a gigantic chariot, having elaborately carved stone wheels, pillars, and walls. The word “Konark” is a combination of the Sanskrit words, Kona (corner or angle) and Ark (the sun), so when combines it becomes “Sun of the Corner”.
The temple was built in the 13th century by king Narasimhadeva I of Eastern Ganga Dynasty in 1255 CE over a period of 12 years. It is a testament to the artistic magnificence and ingenuity of the people who worked build the magnificent structure, and it is pretty amazing how such a huge temple could have been completed within such a short time.
It has 24 elaborately carved stone wheels which are 3 meters wide and is pulled by a set of seven horses. The horses represent the days of the week, and the wheels the hours of a day.
The temple follows the traditional style of Kalinga architecture. There are three images of Surya at three different sides of the temple, positioned in a proper direction to catch the rays of the sun at morning, noon and evening.
The large structure of Konark Temple seen today is actually the entrance of the main temple, which has fallen off and only the remains can be seen. According to Thekonark, the entrance is guarded by statues of two huge lions killing a war elephant, and each beneath is a man. The lions represent pride, the elephant represents wealth, both of which consume man.
The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because is one of India’s most famous Brahman sanctuaries.