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At the southernmost tip of India, the confluence of the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal is the location of Kanniyakumari, an important pilgrimage site and one of the most popular tourist spots in the country.
Kanniyakumari was once referred to as the "Alexandria of the East". It has been a great centre for pilgrimage, commerce and trade. St.Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles of Christ, arrived in this area in 52 AD. Kanniyakumari was under the control of the Chola, Chera, Pandya and Nayak dynasties who built several temples. Islam, Christianity and Jainism have also enriched the architectural wealth and heritage of the city. The Kumari Amman temple here is dedicated to Parvati as Devi - Kanya, the virgin goddess who eternally protects the country at its southern tip. Swami Vivekananda meditated here and the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, built in 1970 is dedicated to him. From the lighthouse one can see the panoramic view of the landscape of Kanniyakumari.
Kanniyakumari or Cape Comorin is at its pinnacle during Chitra Pournami (full moon day in April) when the sun and moon are face to face at the same horizon. Other full moon days are also special when you can see the sunset and the moonrise almost simultaneously. A fine beach landscape with multi hued sands is another interesting aspect of Kanniyakumari. Palm leaf articles of Kanniyakumari are very famous.
Legends of Konark - The local legends say that King Narasimha Deva-I of the Ganga Dynasty had ordered the temple to be built as a symbol of political supremacy of his dynasty. Over Twelve hundred of the most capable artisans and architects worked continuously for 12 years on the construction of the temple, it is said that the king had already spent an amount equal over 12 years of the tax collections. However, the completion of the temple still far from view. Enraged the king issued an ultimatum that the work be completed by a stipulated date with dire consequences otherwise. The team of architects headed by Bisu Maharana was unable to produce a solution to their arctitural problem. It is said that Dharmapada, the young son of the chief architect Bisu Maharana, arrived there as a visiting onlooker. He became aware of the anxiety looming large among the architects. Although he did not have any practical experience of temple construction, he was careful in his study of the theories of temple architecture. He offered a solution to the problem of fixing the last stone at the top of the temple. He surprised everyone by doing that himself. But soon after his glorious achievement the dead body of this adolescent prodigy was found on the sea beach at the foot of the temple. It is often regarded that Dharmapada laid down his life to save his community. The temple was dedicated to the Sun-God(Arka) popularly called Biranchi-Narayan, and the area in which it is located was known as Arka-Kshetra as well as padma-kshetra. According to folklore, Samba, son of Lord Krishna, was struck with leprosy due a curse of Lord Krishna himself. Samba for twelve years underwent harsh atonement at Mitravana, near the convergence area of Chandrabhaga river with the sea at Konark, and finally was sucessful in pleasing the SUN god (Surya), the healer of all skin diseases, and was cured of his ailment. In gratitude, he decided to erect a temple in the honour of Surya. The day following his cure, while Samba was bathing in the Chandrabhaga, he discovered an image of the god, which had been fashioned out of Surya's body by Viswakarma. Samba installed this image in a temple he built in Mitravana, where he propitiated the god. Since then throughout the ages this place has been regarded as sacred.
Location of Konark -
Konark is situated at latitude 19° 53' North and longitude 86° 06' East. It
is a village in Gop police station under the Puri subdivision. From Pipli a
45 kilometres long road leads via Nimapara and Gop to Konark in the
south-east. Konark is 66 kilometres by all-weather road via Pipli from
Bhubaneswar, the Capital City of Orissa; and 84 kilometres from Puri, the
district head quarters, also via Pipli. The entire territory lies in the
Topical zone and hence is subject to high temperature. However the sea
exercises a modeling influence on the climate of the Konark. So the Konarka
has a pleasant climate all the year round. The maximum temperature in summer
is 110° F and the minimum temperature in winter is 51° F. In Summer, cotton
and in winter, light woolen clothing is required.
WHERE TO STAY
Konak: Panth Niwas and Travellers Lodge.
PLACES TO VISIT
After the hustle and bustle
of the Jagannath temple, the splendid ruins at Konark, of the monumental Sun
temple, speak of a world caught in a time warp. Anchored to the sands at
Konark Beach, the temple stands hoist upon its enormous 24 intricately
carved wheels. The temple, conceived as a chariot hauling the Sun god
(Surya), across the heavens by the mighty of 7 splendid carved horses caught
in the mute symphony of stone, lies in partial ruin. The Natamandira, a
separate enclosure, is still intact.
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.
Konark Dance Festival