The Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha: My Experience as Recently Visited

 In India, because of the ancient civilization a lot of heritage buildings including Temples, Churches, Mosques, Gurudwaras, etc., can be found. One of the important temples, which has been declared a UNESCO heritage site is the Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha which I had the opportunity to visit recently (February 2023, earlier also visited on several occasions). My recent visit experience in this regard is being presented for the benefit of readers. It is pertinent to mention that the area has been developed by the  Indian Oil Foundation which is a non-profit Trust funded by Indian Oil Corporation Limited. Also, the Indian Oil Foundation has constructed an air-conditioned auditorium, where a film show of about 25 minutes depicting the history of the Sun Temple can be seen.  One can watch the film only with an entry ticket costing Rs.50 per person and also can see the museum. They have developed a cafeteria and roads. Anyway, when one visits the Sun Temple, I suggest please visit the area where the auditorium, cafeteria, etc., are located. They have named it, "Arka Khetra". 

A few points about the Sun Temple collected from the website UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention ( are presented. It is one of the outstanding cases of temple architecture and art as revealed in its conception, scale, and proportion, and in the sublime narrative strength of its sculptural elaboration constructed in the 13th-century kingdom of Odisha dedicated to the Surya, the Sun God.  The Sun Temple is the culmination of Kalingan temple architecture, with all its defining elements in complete and perfect form. The temple represents a chariot of the Sun God, with twelve pairs of wheels drawn by seven horses evoking its movement across the heavens. On the north and south sides there are 24 carved wheels, each about three meters in diameter, as well as symbolic subjects referring to the cycle of the seasons and the months. Between the wheels, the plinth of the temple is entirely decorated with reliefs of fantastic lions, musicians and dancers, and erotic groups. Like many Indian temples, the Sun Temple comprises several distinct and well-organized spatial units. The vimana (principal sanctuary) was surmounted by a high tower with a shikhara (crowning cap), which was razed in the 19th century. To the east, the jahamogana (audience hall) dominates the ruins with its pyramidal mass. Further to the east, the nat mandir (dance hall), today unroofed, rises on a high platform. Various subsidiary structures are still to be found within the vicinity of the rectangular wall, which is punctuated by gates and towers. The Sun Temple is an exceptional testimony, in physical form, to the 13th-century Hindu Kingdom of Odisha, under the reign of Narasimha Deva I (AD 1238-1264). Its scale, refinement, and conception represent the strength and stability of the Ganga Empire as well as the value systems of the historic milieu. The Sun is personified as a divine being with a history, ancestry, family, wives, and progeny, and as such, plays a very prominent role in the myths and legends of creation. Furthermore, it is associated with all the legends of its own artistic creation. Altogether 1200 artisans worked over a period of 12 years to construct the Temple.  It is believed that the construction was carried out under the leadership of the master builder (architect), Bisu Moharana, in which his son (who was born during this period) later on was involved.

It may be mentioned here that the Sun Temple, is protected under the National Framework of India by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act (1958) and its Rules (1959). It is observed from the website that from the 15th to the 17th century, the temple was sacked various times by Muslim armies. By the 19th century, much of the temple had been weathered and ruined. Under British rule, sections of the temple complex were restored, but much of it remained in ruins. The complex was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984.

Prof Shankar Chatterjee, Hyderabad 

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  1. Dear Dr Chaterjee,
    I have browsed your article on The Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha. Hearty congratulations. I too have visited this Sun Temple about two decades ago. Glad to know the recent developments that took place. Happy to note that the Indian Oil Foundation has done creditable work for tourists by establishing the museum and a cafeteria is really a new attraction. The author also highlighted the genisis and it's importance of the Sun Temple for the benefit of general public to visit this historic place and avail the facilities available.
    Dr P Satish Chandra
    Prof. NIRDPR ( Retired)

  2. Dear Dada, Namaskar. It's very well illustrated with recent update on the developments of the ancient Temple Complex. Kudos to you. Kind regards.
    Prof Madhava Rao
    NIRDPR, Retired professor (GIS),