About this temple, Rabindranath Tagore had once said “Here the language of stone surpasses the language of human”.
The temple Rabindranath Tagore was praising was the Konark Sun Temple which is been one of the most popular tourist destinations. The temple is situated at Konark about 35 kilometers northeast from Puri on the coastline of Odisha.
For centuries this has been as a navigational tool by the sailors across the region. When it was built, the Sun temple was on the edge of the sea but today it is about 3 kilometres away from the ocean. This temple which is dedicated to Sun god was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in the year 1984.
There has been lot of stories on why the temple was built in the region dedicated to Sun God. The most believed legend goes like this.
One day, according to the advise of a sage, Lord Krishna headed towards Himalayas to perform penance for a period of six months to please Lord Shiva. The penance was very rigorous as Krishna had to perform several postures which was very tough, like standing on one leg for weeks and consuming only water.
Impressed by this, Lord Shiva appeared in front of Krishna in the form of Ardhanarishvara (the half-female, half-male form of the god) and asked him to ask a boon. To this, Krishna said he want a son from Jambavati to which Shiva agreed.
As Lord Shiva granted a son while he was in the form of Sambha (the half-female, half-male form of the god), Krishna named his son Sambha.
When it came to looks, Sambha was extremely good looking. One day, Sambha who was proud of his looks, made fun of Narada Muni. Due to this insult, Narada Muni decided to take revenge against him and one day he tricked and cunning made Sambha enter into a pool where his step mothers were having a bath. This gave Krishna a feeling that his son was misbehaving with his wives.
This enraged Krishna and he cursed his son with leprosy. But soon Krishna realized that this was the cunning work of Narada. Later on Krishna was really embarrassed about his but unfortunately he couldn’t revoke the curse.
That’s why he advised his son Sambha to worship Sun God so that his disease would be cured. Sambha followed his father’s advise and did a rigorous penance worshiping Lord Sun. (Surya Dev). After 12 years of penance, Surya God appeared in front of Sambah and asked him to have a bath in the sea at Konark.
Sambha obediently followed the words of Lord Shiva and once he took a dip at the sea, he was cured from his ailment. Looking at this miracle, Sambha was really pleased and decided to construct a Surya temple dedicated to Surya Dev, which was later called Konarka, “Place of the Sun”.
The design of the temple is quite interesting. It appears like a chariot having massive wheels and horses which are carved out of stones and the height if temple is 100 feet. Earlier the temple’s height was over 200 feet but gradually the temple fell into ruins.