Hindu Pilgrimage
 
Konark

To the edge of the land, he came, his body covered with the curse of an enraged father. Here he prayed to the sun who restored him to wholeness again. Thus did Samba, son of Lord Krishna build a temple in honour of Surya, the Sun Temple at Konark, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

With the temple the image of the Sun God stirs to life with the first rays of the sun that fall on his face. The afternoon sun's rays show him at wakefulness. And in the evening his eyes droop. As Rabindranath Tagore said, this is where the language of stone defeats the language of man.

How to Reach

All roads that lead to Konark are in good shape (locals call them 'all weather roads') so the journey from Puri or Bhubhaneshwar is comfortable and picturesque. It is 35 km from Puri on the Marine Drive and 85 km via Pipli. There is a regular bus service from Puri (Rs 8, one hour). The buses and mini-buses are in bad shape and always packed but you can hire a jeep instead. As it's a short journey you can do a round trip in one day. The last bus out of Konark leaves at 6.30 pm and usually carries on towards Bhubhaneshwar.

Since the bus service from Bhubhaneshwar is not as frequent, you may have to change buses at Pipli, and the journey is much longer (65 km, 3-4 hours). There is one direct express tourist bus, which leaves from the Bhubhaneshwar town stand at 10 am.

Sights to Visit

Sun Temple

It was the European sailors, travelling along the coast of Orissa who first called this temple of the sun the 'Black Pagoda'. Though the sea has moved 2 km away from the mighty temple of Surya and ancient mariners have ceased to sail by, it still stands tall (the main tower is 128 feet high), an incredible architectural feat – rediscovered and magnificent.

The Konark temple is now protected as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. Entry fees to the monument are Rs 50 for Indian tourists and rs 460 for foreign tourists.

Nine planets' Shrine

Originally positioned above the main entrance of the Jagmohan, this 6 m chlorite slab is now in the northeast corner of the enclosure. The figures (seated) in this shrine are supposed to represent the Navagrahas (nine planet deities)--Surya, Chandra (the moon), Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rahu and Ketu (the ascending and descending nodes of the eclipse). The second shrine in the south-west corner was formerly dedicated to Surya's wife -- the Shadow Goddess.

Archaeological Museum

Has many sculptures and carvings that were retrieved from the site during excavations. You can also buy a copy of the Archaeological Survey of India's Konark. (9 am to 5 pm, Friday closed).

Konark Beach

The beach (2 km from the temple) is fairly clean, though the currents can be a bit strong so be careful.

 
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