Fall Of Konark

kona41.jpg (3192 bytes) In the course of time Konak along with its temples and sacred spots have lost their glories. It can neither be definitely said as to how long this temple stood in the fullness of its glory and splendour nor the causes of its decay. There are however, many speculations on this. The exact date and reason for the fall of this magnificent monument is still in mystery. History is almost silent about it. Scholars also differ in their opinions. In support of their views they putforth varied views. The various speculations made as to the possible cause of the fall of this magnificent temple are given below.

Incomplete Temple

It is opined by some historian that due to early death of the king Langula Narasimha Dev, the builder of the Konark temple, the construction of the temple had been left half-hazardly. As a result of this the incomplete structure collapsed in course of time. But this view stands without any basic data. It is rather established from the records of Madala Panji of Puri Jagannath temple as well as from some copper plates that the 1278 A.D. and the king Langula Narasimha Dev reigned till 1282. Many historian are of the opinion that the construction of the Konark temple was completed between 1253 and 1260 A.D. So the argument that due to non completion of the construction the temple collapsed is not tenable.


It is stated by some that according to the legend of Dharmapad, due to committed suicide of Dharmapada on the temple just after placing its crowning stone, the temple lost its sanctity and considered as an unfortunate (Asuva) element and was thus rejected. But it is recorded in the Madala Panji and many historians are of opinion that Sun god had been established in the temple and was being worshipped regularly for years together. So this argument is also not acceptable, being unfounded on history.

Curse Of Sumanyu

The great poet of Orissa Sri Radhanath Ray in his Kavya 'Chandrabhaga' has narrated a story about the cause of the fall of temple. According to that Kavya, Sumanyu Risi (saint) cursed the Sun god for his ill-behavior towards his daughter Chandrabhaga, who committed suicide. Hence the temple of the Sun god fell down. But such an imaginary story cannot be taken as a historical occurrence.

Engineering Defects

An the opinion of some Engineers, as usual with the progress of construction of the temple walls, its outside and inside were being filled with sand. After completion of the temple when the sands were cleared both from inside and outside, due to imbalance of pressure of walls the temple fell down. But many scholars do not agree with this argument, when they find the existence of a throne of the Sun god inside the temple. They also do not accept that such a procedure was followed in constructing the Sun temple. Besides there are historical documents that the Sun god was being worshipped in the newly constructed temple for a considerable period.

Earth Quake

Some scholars are of the view that due to earthquake the temple fell down. It is also not impossible on the part of a strong earthquake to demolish such a large structure at a moment.

But there is no proof in support of occuring such an earth quake in this area. There is also no sign of suppression of the foundation of the temple at any direction. Had there been any such a strong earth quake causing the fall of the Sun temple, it could have also created a devastation in Konark area. And such an occurrence could have been remembered by the people as they have remembered the story of Dharmapada, Ramachandi and Bisu Maharana. Nowhere there exists such a devastating statement.



The arguments that the temple was affected due to Thunderstruck is also not acceptable. Since the temple walls are of 20 to 25 feet in thickness it is not at all possible on the part of any thunderstruck to disturb it in any manner.

Weak Foundation

It is also stated that due to weak foundation of such a heavy structure the temple fell down. But as stated earlier the temple was founded on a deep gorge of a river to make it stronger. And also there is no sign of sinking in any part. So this argument is also not founded on good grounds.

Load Stone

It is described that in the part there was a load stone on the top of the Sun temple and due to its magnetic effects it was drawing vessels passing through the Konark sea resulting in heavy damage. In others view due to the magnetic effects of the load stone placed on the top of the Sun temple the compass fitted in the ships to show the direction, was being disturbed and was not functioning properly and it was a troubling task in the part of the captains to drive their vessels in right direction. So to make the shipping save, the Muslim voyagers took away the load stone from the Sun temple. This load stone on the temple was working as the central stone keeping all the stones of the temple wall in a balance. Due to its displacement the temple walls lost their balance and fell down in course of time. But such a statement has no record in history nor has got any proof about the existence of such a powerful load stone on the temple top.
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Flying Lion

Recently some scholars have advanced the opinion that there was a big image of a Lion which is called Flying lion on the upper part of the Sun temple just above the porch. Now the said image is found lying in the broken condition on the ground in three places. Due to placement of such a heavy block of stone on the temple walls, it imbalance the wall and the wall collapsed. But such an argument is yet to be reviewed carefully before we come to any conclusion.

Hasty Completion Of The Temple

It is learnt from the Dharmapad story that the king Narasimha Dev had ordered the sculptors to complete the temple about a fortnight earlier than the scheduled time and also had threatened them if they fail to complete the temple within the stipulated time, all the sculptors will be heavily punished to death. As the Sutradhar (Chief Architect) Sri Sibei Samantaray expressed his inability, the king engaged another person to speed up the work in place of Sri Samantaray. Though the newly appointed Sutradhar completed the work by the stipulated time, he, however, failed in placing the Kalas (the crowning stone ) of the temple. As the story goes, finally the Kalasa was set up by a boy of 12 years. It is evident, as a result of this impracticable order of the king many things had gone wrong. This resulted in weakening the placement of the crowning stone, which could not be placed properly according to the basic plan of the temple. Due to unusual hastying wish of the king and that to changing the Sutradhar at the last moment, the crowning portion of the temple could not keep pace with its lower parts. As a result the temple walls collapsed being imbalanced within a very short period.



The most popular cause rests with the Kalapahad as the root of the fall of Konark temple. According to the history of Orissa, Kalapahad invaded Orissa in 1508. Including Konark temple he had also destroyed a number of Hindu temples in Orissa. It is described in the Madala Panji of Puri Jagannath temple that Kalapahad attacked Orissa in 1568 and it was an evil hour for Orissa. Including Konark temple he broke most of the images in most of the Hindu temples in Orissa. Though it was impossible to break the Sun temple of Konark, the stone walls of which are of 20 to 25 feet thick he somehow managed to displace the Dadhinauti (Arch stone) and thus made a way for the temple to collapse. He also broke most of the images and other side temples of Konark. Due to displacement of the Dadhinauti, the temple gradually collapsed and the roof of the Mukasala also got damage due to the stroke of the stones falling down from the temple top.

Consequent upon, Orissa came under the Muslim administration in 1568 and there were constant attempts to destroy the Hindu temples. The Pandas of Puri, to save the sanctity of the Puri temple, took away the Lord Jagannath from the Srimandir and kept the image in a secret place. Similarly, it is said that the Pandas of Konark took away the presiding deity of the Sun temple out of the temple and put under sand for some years. Latter on the said image was removed to Puri and kept in the temple of Indra in the compound of the Puri Jagannath temple. According to others, the Puja image of the Konark temple is yet to be discovered. But others hold the view that the Sun image now kept in the National Museum, Delhi was the presiding deity of the Konark Sun temple.

However, the Sun worship in the Konark temple was stopped consequent upon the removal of the image from the temple. This resulted in stopping of pilgrims to Konark. So also the port at Konark was closed due to attacks of pirates. Konark was as glorious a city for Sun worship as for commercial activities. But after the cessation of these activities, Konark turned to a deserted place and in ravages of time it became a field of pirates and wild animals. As a result Konark left to develop as a dense forest for years together.

In 1626 the then king of Khurda, Raja Narasimha Dev, son of Purusottam Dev took away the Sun image to Puri along with two other moving deities - Sun and Moon. Now they are found in a temple in the compound of Puri Jagannath temple.

It is recorded in the Madala Panji of Puri temple that in 1028 Raja Narasimha Dev had ordered for taking measurement of all the temples at Konark and made an account of the temples at Konark goddesses. At the time of measurement the Sun temple was in existence upto its Amalak sila, i.e. about 200 feet in height. Kalapahad had only destroyed its Kalas, the crowning stone and the Padma-dhwaja, the lotus finial and the upper portions. Due to removal of this crowning stone the temple lost its balance and gradually started to fall down. The stroke of heavy stone pieces caused considerable damage to the porch.

As described earlier there was a big block of stone called Navagraha Paata placed in front of the Mukhasala. The then king of Khurda removed the said block to down. The king had taken away many sculptured stones from Konark and constructed some portions of Puri temple with them. Even he had breaking its roof. During Marahatta time the outer compound wall of the Puri temple was constructed with the stone of Konark temple.

It is reported that among all the temples the Naata Mandir or the Dancing hall of Konark was in its origin form for a longer period and it was broken intentionally considering it as an unnecessary structure during the time of Marahata administration.

In the year 1779 a Marhatta Sadhu had taken away the Arun Pillar from Konark and put it in front of the Lion's Gate of Puri Jagannath temple. Thus by the end of 18th century Konark lost all its glories and had been turned to a dense forest. In course of time, the temple area thus became devoid of people being covered with dense forest and full with sands and filled with terrible animals and abided by pirates. It is said that even the local people feared to go to Konark in the broad day light.

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