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Located about 35 kilometers northeast of the city of Puri in Odisha, the Konark Sun Temple is the most famous sun temple built in India during the 13th century CE. It is dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya.
See the fact file below for more information on the Konark Sun Temple or alternatively, you can download our 19-page Konark Sun Temple worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The Konark Sun Temple was built by King Narasimhadeva of the Eastern Ganga dynasty in 1250 CE.
- The Eastern Ganga’s greatest king, Anantavarman Chodaganga, ruled the kingdom in the Kalinga region in eastern India (present-day Odisha) for about 70 years. He was a patron of the arts who greatly favored temple building, leading to the construction of the great temple of the god Jagannatha and the Konark.
- His most notable successor, Narasimhadeva I, completed the construction of both the Jagannatha temple and the Konark.
- The exact reason for its building is unknown, but many historians theorize that the king did so either to express gratitude for wish-fulfillment or to commemorate a conquest.
- The word “konark” comes from two sanskrit words, kona, meaning “corner or angle”, and arka, which means the “sun”. It means that the main deity of the temple was the sun god and that it was in an angular format.
- Built entirely from stone, the Konark is conceived as a giant chariot with 12 pairs of wheels representing the 12 months of the year. This is a reflection of the belief that Surya is usually found on a chariot pulled by seven horses, a constant depiction of the sun god in any work of art.
- The Konark follows the Kalinga or Orissa style of architecture – a subset of the nagara style, one of the three Hindu temple architecture styles in India. In the nagara style, the ground plan is in the form of a square with a sanctuary and assembly hall called mandapa and a huge curvilinear tower inclining inwards and capped called shikhara.
- Despite it being in the eastern region, King Anantavarman built the temple using the nagara style probably because he dominated many areas in northern India as well, where the nagara style was prevalent.
- There are two main characteristics under the Orissa style: the jaganamohana or assembly hall, and the deul or sanctum housing the deity covered by the shikhara.
- The Konark follows the style used in the Lingaraja temple, built around 1100 CE in the present-day city of Bhubaneshwar, the capital state of Odisha, with the temple at the center of a large quadrangular court.
- Today, only the mandapa and jaganamohana of the Konark remain.
- The reason for the collapse of the deul and shikhara is still unknown, but the main belief is that they crumbled gradually. Others, however, question whether the temple was ever completed.
DISCOVERY AND RESTORATION
- The Konark was visited by Scottish historian James Fergusson in 1837.
- Fergusson was known for rediscovering ancient Indian antiquities and architectural sites.
- After his visit to the temple, Fergusson prepared a drawing where he estimated the height of the remaining portion to be between 42.67 and 45.72 meters.
- By 1868, a local raja (king) who was building his own temple removed some sculptures from the Konark, leaving the site looking like no more than a mass of stones covered with trees. Somehow, the temple itself was saved from being used to build a lighthouse. Fergusson also said that the locals actively removed the fallen stones and took the iron cramps and dowels from the temple.
- Lt. Governor John Woodburn initiated the restoration of the temple by launching a well-planned campaign and adopting suitable measures.
- From 1900 onwards, conservation activities picked up speed with the Archaeological Survey of India in conserving and maintaining the site since 1939.
- In 1984, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared it a world heritage site.
LEGENDS AND RELATED LITERARY WORK
- Many believe that the Konark is the most sacred place for the worship of Surya in the entire Odisha region. It is often given the same mythological significance as the Puranas.
- It is said that Samba, one of the god Krishna’s many sons, built a temple for Suya in gratitude for healing his skin ailment. Although originally associated with a sun temple in northwestern India, the story was shifted to the Konark “to enhance the sanctity of the new center”, which had emerged over time as an important site for sun worship.
- Many literary works written during the medieval period show that, along with the Jagannatha temple, the Konark was used as a landmark by sailors wandering in the Bay of Bengal, with early Europeans referring to the former as the “White Pagoda” and the latter as the “Black Pagoda”.
HINDU GOD SURYA
- The Konark Sun Temple was built to honor the Hindu Sun God Surya.
- The name Surya is a Sanskrit term for “sun”. This God in ancient Indian literature is also known as Aaditya, Arka, Bhanu, Savitr, Pushan, Ravi, Martanda, Mitra, Bhaskara, and VIvasvan.
- Surya is among the five deities in order to achieve the highest Universal Principle or the Ultimate Reality in the universe, Brahman, in the Smarta Tradition.
- The Konark Sun Temple was named after “Kona and Arka” or “Arka in the corner”.
- Surya is often portrayed as a god riding a chariot harnessed by seven horses. These horses represent the seven colors of white light and the seven days in a week.
- During the middle ages of Hinduism, Suyra was also used to describe the major Hindu gods Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu.
- In other old texts and arts, Surya is depicted together with Idnra, Ganesha or other Hindu gods.
Konark Sun Temple Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Konark Sun Temple across 19 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Konark Sun Temple worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Konark Sun Temple which is the most famous sun temple built in India during the 13th century CE. It is dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Konark Sun Temple Facts
- The Sun Temple
- Fast Facts
- More Questions
- Tell Me More
- Other Temples
- Quote for the Sun Temple
- Kalinga Architecture
- Stone Structure
- Invitation to Konark
- When in Odisha
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Link will appear as Konark Sun Temple Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, April 13, 2020
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