The Sun (Surya) has been a
popular deity in India since the Vedic period. The following passage occurs in a
prayer to him in the Rig Veda, the earliest of our sacred literature: "Aloft
his beams now bring the good, Who knows all creatures that are born, That all may
look upon the Sun. Athwart in darkness gazing up, to him the higher light, We now
have soared to Surya- The god among gods, the highest height." Built in AD
1250, during the reign of the Eastern Ganga King Narasimhadeva-I (AD1238-64), the
Konark Temple was to enshrine an image of the Sun, the patron deity of the place.
Orissan Architectural Style
The entire complex was designed in the form of a huge chariot drawn by seven spirited
horses on twelve pairs of beautifully-carved wheels. The sanctum sanctorum of this
temple symbolizes the majestic stride of the Sun-god and marks the culmination of
the Orissan architectural style. The walls of the temple contain superb carvings
of divine and semi- divine, human and animal figures amidst floral and geometric
The Konark Sun Temple is the grandest achievement of the eastern school of architecture.
The stupendous monument stands with its disfigured beauty in a desolate track of
ever- drifting sands of the Chandrabhaga river. In Konark, the "Natya Mandir",
the dance hall of the Sun Temple probably remains as the last remnant of the glorious
temples of Orissa, a living example of the architectural excellence of the bygone
times. Only two subsidiary temples of the 22 that originally existed inside its
precincts exist today. They stand to the west of the towers.
Classical Dance Fiesta
As a fitting tribute to the majestic monument, eminent classical dancers of India
get together every year during the Konark Festival from 1st to 5th December to present
live performance. The classical extravaganza is a journey through eternal ecstasy.
The festival provides a platform for both to the performing artiste and the dance
connoisseurs in appreciating the essence of various classical dance forms of the
country. The stage for the dancing event glows in pristine glory of much admired
Odissi, Bharat Natyam, Manipuri, Kathak and Chhow Dance - a lavish feast for the
eyes and ears.