KONARK SUN TEMPLE: The Sun Temple at Konark is a World Heritage Site. Konark was once a bustling port at the time of the erstwhile kingdom of Kalinga (as the present day Orissa was known in the old days) and had good maritime trade relations with Southeast Asian countries. King Narasimhadeo (AD 1238-64) was the chief patron of the Konark Sun Temple. He wanted to build a shrine dedicated to the Sun God.
Vahana: According to Hindu mythology, most Gods and Goddesses have their own vehicles. The Sun God rode his vahana or vehicle, usually a chariot, through the heavens-a chariot of time, pulled by seven superb white steeds. There are a number of sun temples in India, but the most magnificent example of the vahana in India is undoubtedly at Konark. To simulate the appearance of a wheeled chariot, the longer sides of the platform over which the temple stands were decorated with a relief of 12 massive, beautifully carved wheels more than 10 feet (3 meters) in diameter. Each of these giant wheels is a faithful reproduction of the real thing in stone, complete with intricately carved hub, spokes, and pins. To complete the illusion of the solar chariot, colossal freestanding statues of seven galloping horses were installed before the main entrance. But now one is missing. The parapets on either side of the flight of steps leading to the entrance too are actually a row of richly caparisoned, life-size prancing steeds straining at their harness.
KONARK DANCE FESTIVAL: Though the Sun Temple had been abandoned since long, it presently forms the backdrop for the annual Konark Dance Festival. The audio-visual effects of the dance festival combined with the dazzling spectacle of the floodlit architectural marvel of the temple leaves an indelible mark on the minds of the spectators. The three-day cultural extravaganza, held every year in the month of December, captivates the audience as leading Indian exponents of various Indian classical dance forms like Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Odisi, Kathakali etc perform here. Apart from the classical dance forms, Chau-Orissa’s own folk dance form is also performed during the festival, as are folk forms of some of the other states.