“Maybe the truest form of Mystery in the world, is right in front of our eyes!”
Ancient India is filled with numerous tales of unbelievable and not-quite understandable places that exist and are a part of the nation. One such place is the Konark Sun Temple in Odisha. This 700 year old temple has plenty of stories and mysteries revolving around it. From the secrets behind the closed entrance of the temple to the ghostly spirits of the dancers from more than a century ago, we will discuss all about the temple and it’s secrets in today’s blog!
History of Konark Sun Temple
Explained quite amazingly by Rabindranath Tagore, “Here the language of stone, surpasses the language of man“. This legendary quote explains the story of Konark Sun Temple. This marvelous temple depicts the creative thinking, ideologies and educative treasury of people who lived centuries ago.
Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site mostly consists of the ruins of time, but those are still enough to captivate you and take you through a sort of internal time travel as you want to figure out “what was” before now.
Believed to be built in the 13th Century, this 771 year old temple has seen a lot – changes in time, cities getting distorted and rebuilt, kingdoms rising and falling and identities being washed away.
The Konark Sun Temple was built somewhere in 1244 CE, and dedicated to the Hindu Sun God, Surya. Konark comes from two Sanskrit words, “Kona” meaning corner and “Ark” meaning Sun. People in and around the city believe that the first rays of the Sun during sunrise, fall over the entrance of this temple in the city.
As per various ancient texts, the location where the temple now stands is said to be the holy seat of Surya. It was built by King Narsimha Deva I, of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. One of the most powerful dynasties to ever rule in India, the Eastern Ganga Dynasty (5th Century to 15th Century) also built the infamous Puri Jagannath Temple in Odisha.
Mysteries and Secrets of the Konark Sun Temple
Not many years ago, when travellers came to visit this place of worship, all they had in mind was a place of religious sentiments – as all temples are throughout India or the world. They thought to themselves it’s merely one among the various beautiful temples of India which has been tackling the war against time since centuries and ended up in ruins.
What they came to know while letting the place unfold within them, it’s story, was that it is not like any religious place, it’s different – it’s mysterious!
Let’s talk about the interesting tales of mysteries related to the Konark Sun Temple –
The Legend of Samba and the Konark Temple
As per the Hindu scriptures go, there is a one legend or story related to the construction of the marvelous temple. The people around Odisha believe that the first or actual temple built on the land was not under King Narsimha Deva, but someone more of a deity himself.
They believe that it was Samba, one of Shri Krishna’s son who had built the Konark Temple.
The legend went that Samba was a notorious and misbehaved child of Lord Krishna and Jambavati. Upset with the childish nature turning into straight forward bad behavior towards others, Krishna’s anger grew to such an extent that he scolded his son.
An argument was struck which agitated Lord Krishna even more, which ended up in Krishna cursing his own son for leprosy!
Seeing this, Jambavati couldn’t hold up anymore and begged Lord Krishna to forgive their son for once. She told him she’d make sure he doesn’t do anything like that ever again. But Lord Krishna told her that he cannot lift his curse once given.
Samba had to suffer for leprosy for a long time. Until he met with a Rishi Katak, who advised him to undergo severe penance for a period of 12 years and meditate and pray to the Sun God, Surya. Samba started the penance at Mitravana, near the confluence of Chandrabhaga River with the ocean.
Finally, after years of praying and meditating, Lord Surya was pleased. Now, the Sun God is believed to be a healer of all skin diseases. As Surya blessed Samba, the leprosy vanished from his body.
Lord Krishna’s son promised the Sun deity to create a dedicated temple for the God of Sun as an act of gratefulness.
Thus, he ended up creating what we know today as the Konark Sun Temple situated in Odisha.
Konark Sun Temple Can Measure Accurate Time
Sundials are not a new discovery. It has been an essential part in the history of our world and depicted how ancient beings used to know what time in the day it is.
One unique thing about the one present in the Konark Sun Temple is that it is shaped much like our modern day wall clocks!
So basically, this unique ancient temple dedicated to the Sun God was built keeping in mind the chariot of the deity – with the main temple structure created with 24 chariot wheels and 7 mighty horses.
The most mystical thing about this sundial or clock is that it shows time as accurate as possible. People who visit here may even check it out for themselves. Only difference between the Konark Time Wheel and the Modern Day Clock is that the minor or thinner spokes’ shadow tends to move in an “anti-clockwise” direction.
The Konark Sundials has four major elements which help the modern people today to experience this exciting way of looking at the time –
The wheels of the chariot has 16 spokes in total – 8 major or thick spokes and 8 minor or thin spokes. Imagine these as the hands of the clock. The major spokes depict the hour hand, while the minor spokes represent the minute hand.
- Parts & Halves
The entire wheel is divided into 8 parts with the help of the aforementioned spokes. Each part depicts the modern-day representation of 3 hours. These 8 parts are further divided into halves. So each half will be a depiction of 1.5 hours, right?
One of the most fascinating (depicting even the minute details the people carved into the chariot wheels) is the Beads. There are 30 beads in between each major and minor spoke. That means the 1.5 hours are divided into 30 parts to represent a single bead. So each bead equals 3 minutes.
Now, the last element in the Konark Time Wheel is the even smaller sections. When you carefully look at the beads on the chariot wheel(s), you will find it to be not circular but elongated in shape. This makes it possible for the shadow of the axis to fall either on the center of the beads or on the sides. The guides will tell you and even make sure you see it that these small sections can eventually let you calculate the exact time by diving the 3 minutes into a single one.
You need to keep a slender object like a stick at the focal point of the pivot of the wheel. The shadow of this slight item will fall on the external edge to demonstrate the exact time by then.
A Temple with the Magnetic Field
One of the most well known mystery about the Konark Sun Temple is that there was a huge magnet kept within the temple structure and that lodestone magnet held the entire structure together for hundreds of years.
As per a legend, after the temple structure was built, the statue of the Sun God in the temple was made up of iron content. The structure was held together by a huge sized lodestone (a naturally magnetized mineral). The statue was said to be floating on air due to the magnet. The lodestone was put on the upper side, below the statue and engraved in small amounts on the wall structures as well.
The other thing the magnet did was to pull entire ships floating nearby through the sea. It is said that many ship captains were fed up due to the magnet messing up with their compasses and even changing entire directions of the ships during sail. It even ended up causing many shipwrecks!
To save their trades and the ship, the Portuguese sailors attempted and succeeded in destroying the temple. They destroyed the magnet holding the entire temple together.
What we see today, the remains of the temple are what was left after the destruction and the dust cleared.
Haunted Tale of the Black Pagoda
The Konark Sun temple had so many different and unique mysteries in the number of years since it was built. But one such mystery is different from any other. Also known as the Black Pagoda due to the crown of the temple appearing to be black from the sea, the Sun Temple of Odisha is believed to be haunted!
The structure of the Konark Temple also had a Nritya Mandap or a Dancing Hall created within the area. This great hall was created with an intention of offering the arti-nrityas by the beautiful devadashis (or dancer girls).
The Konark Temple was and is still used as a major player in many festivals or religious beliefs in the city of Konark. During the puja rituals or festivals, the temple arranged a massive gala dedicated to the Sun God, Surya where prayers happened along with a unique dance style show performances.
Even today, when you look at the inner pillars of the temple you can see depictions of many male and female performers on the walls carved in unique mudras and holding unique styled instruments.
Now, the legend or the mystery tale goes that many devadashis used to live inside the temple halls during the night before or after their performances. So when the Portuguese sailors attacked the temple to try and remove the magnet from the structure, they ended up collapsing a majority of the entire building area. And during the destruction, a few devadashis or dancer girls faced their demise.
The locals in the town or nearby areas will tell you stories that when the Sun God goes down for his sleep or when the sun sets in Konark, people nearby the temple or inside the area can hear voices of few girls talking, sound of their ghungroos as they seem to run past you or somewhere in the ruins. Some travellers who happened to be in the premise during late hours also claim to have seen floating girls running away while laughing in a spooky whisper-y voice.
These are believed to be the ghosts of the devadashis and people say they might not harm you, but that doesn’t mean you shall be careless.
Do you think the Konark Sun Temple is haunted? Tell me in the comments.
Do you believe in the haunted? You can read about the World’s Most Haunted Place here.
When you come here and explore around, they tell you stories of the untold, the unseen and the unheard! All you gotta do is really listen!
That’s All Folks!