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Konark Sun Temple Architecture

One of the most sublime monuments of India, the Konark Sun Temple marks the highest point of achievement of Kalinga architecture. Belonging to the Kalinga School of Indian Temples, the temple has curved towers mounted by Cupolas. The Konark temple consists of a Vimana (main temple) meant for housing the deity, Jagamohana (hall in front of vimana), from where the worshippers have a glance of the deity, and a Nirtya-mandapa (dancing hall). As each façade of this temple is broken by five small projections, this type of temple is known as Pancha-Ratha-Dekha deul in the Orissan architecture. The large structure which is seen today is the entrance of the main temple. However, the main temple which enshrined the presiding deity had collapsed and only the remains are available. The pyramidal shaped roof of the temple rises to a height of 30 m.

Royal Guard

The eastern gateway is the main entrance to the temple compound. It is decorated with Gajasimha (Lion upon an elephant) images, with outward faces, installed on two high stone-benches on either side of the passage.

Konark Sun Temple Entrance

Jagamohana (Gathering hall)

Standing on the same platform as the vimana (main temple), this hall has its roof in a terraced pyramidal shape and the string cornices are separated by three tires by means of high niches. Numerous life-sized standing figures of women in various dancing poses, playing on different musical instruments such as drums, flutes, veena and symbals, describing the usual customs of offering dances by the devadashis at the time of arati are worth mentioning here. There are four doorways on its four sides. The western door shows way to the antarala (inner sanctum), while the others lead to the porches outside.

Nirtya Mandapa (dancing hall)

This large pillared hall is built on a very high platform, in front of the Jagamohana (gathering hall), which was set to offer arati-nrityas (dances) by the dancing girls during the worship. The pillars and walls, ornately carved with dancing male and female figures in various poses, playing different kinds of musical instruments and carrying chamaras, incense burners and lamps in their hands attract visitors.

Simhasana (Seat) of the Presiding Deity

The Simhasana which is made of chlorite stone is beautifully carved and still exists within the sanctum. The base and sides are decorated with beaded borders, surrounded by rows of elephants and various scenes from daily life, such as women carrying offerings, musical instruments and standing in groups with folded hands.

Built in Orissa red sandstone (Khandolite) and black granite, the temple takes the form of the chariot of Surya and is beautifully decorated with stone carvings. The chariot is drawn by seven horses, which represent the days of the week, while the twelve wheels ranged along the base denote the twelve months. Each of the wheels is about nine feet and each contains eight spokes which represent the eight praharas (eight time periods) of a day. The wheels portray the cycle of creation, preservation and achievement of realization. While the rims are carved with designs of foliages with various birds and animals, the medallions in the spokes are carved with the figures of women in various poses. At the base of the temple are various images of animals, foliage, warriors on horses and other interesting structures. Beautiful erotic figures are carved on the walls and roof of the temple. On the three sides of the temple are the three images of the Sun God, namely, Pravhata Surya - Morning Sun (The Creator), Madhyanha Surya - Mid Day Sun (The Destroyer) and Astachala Surya - Evening Sun(The Preserver)