Framing a tourism policy is the first step towards maximizing tourism potential in the state of Orissa and for the state’s tourism sector, it has been a turnaround story. The cyclone’s aftermath had cast dark shadow over the influx of tourists. As a result flow of visitors dwindled. But the fight back was vivacious. Creative and enthusiastic marketing and the formation of a task force on tourism, with the added effort from private sector behind the government together helped to revive the business. As a result the state recorded an all-time high influx of almost 15 lakh domestic tourists and another 24,000 foreign visitors the year after the cyclone.
The magnificent Sun Temple at Konark, a popular world heritage monument in eastern India has its own immaculate erotica example. Standing alone amongst the sand dunes along the Bay of Bengal , the temple chariot of Sun God, the Sun temple of Konark , also known as the Black Pagoda is a splendid example of ancient Orissan temple architecture and craftsmanship. Centuries of myth and legend shroud its history. According to Rabindranath Tagore, “the language of stone, defeats the language of man”.
Built by King Langula Narasimha Deva in the 13th century, a crowning piece of Orissan architecture and sculpture, the golden era of Orissan art, is a poetry in stone and a veritable feast for the eyes. The intricate carvings on the walls and wheels are unprecedented in history. Although the Mukhashala or the entrance hall alone has remained intact, this magnificent ruin has on its walls sculptures of beauty covering various aspect of life (royal, social, religious and military etc.). Erotica with sense of love, war, trade and court transactions, hunting and catching of elephants, sages teaching, child birth, dancers and mythical figures, surasundaries, the heavenly damsels, free standing female statues playing the symbals and drums, flutes and the couple engaged in myriad modes of amorous union in the most frank depiction of love and sex. A magical attraction for connoisseurs and common visitors.
Everyday the Sun God rises from the lap of the blue ocean close by and casts his first gentle rays on the sanctum sanctorum and then circles the temple during the course of the day. Illuminating the three magnificent images of the morning sun, the mid-day sun and the setting sun. The gigantic figures of war elephants holding stunned soldier or the lions guarding the entrance to the temple and the war horses trampling under their hooves a fallen warrior, and above all the twenty four giant wheels of this temple-chariot, symbolising the divisions of time with their intricate carving on the spokes and the axle-heads are a living monument. The ‘Natya Mandap’ the dance stage of the Sun Temple probably remains as an example of the architectural excellence of the times.
The main tower of Konark stood as high as 227 feet. Only two subsidiary temples exists out of the 22, situated inside the temple’s compound. The Vaishnodevi Temple and the Mayadevi Temple stand to the west of the towers.
The Sun Temple along the seashore and the beach is a unique attraction for every visitor to konark, and its offers a view of the glories sunrise too. The Sun Temple museum of the Archaeological survey of India has a good collection of sculptures from the temple ruins.
Those who desire to see Konark in full splendor should come here in the month of February for the Magha Saptami, also called Chandrabhaga mela. And also visit during first week of December to see the Konark Dance Festival held in the Open Air Auditorium, north of the Konark Sun Temple .
A Look Around:
Kuruma : Recent excavation have brought this small village into the limelight with the discovery of antique images of Buddha seated in Bhumisparsa Mudrs along with the image of Heruka. Just 8,kms from Konark.
Chaurasi: Here one may visit the shrines of Laxminarayanan, Amareshewars and Barahi. Barahi is a deity dating back to the 9 th century AD and is worshiped according to tantrik practices. She is a mother goddess with the face of a boar and is holding a fish in one hand and a cup in the other.
Raghurajpur: Only 18,kms from Konark. The small village famous for his patapanting, especially on palm leaves, now famous in world over.
Ramachandi: 7 kms from Konark, it is accessible by road (Marine drive). Ramachandi is situated at the confluence of the River Kusabhadra and the Bay of Bengal . It is a beautiful spot and Goddess Ramachandi, the deity of Konark, is worshipped here.
Astranga: Washed by the clear blue water of the Bay of Bengal it really lives upto its name. Astranga literally means varied colours. 55 kms from Konark, the sunset is a spectacular scene. It is a famous fishing harbour.
Kakatapur: 45 kms from Konark. Well connected by regular bus services from Puri, Bhubaneswar , and Cuttack . It is situated in the Prachi valley and is known for the shrines of Goddess Mangala and Banadurga. Legend has it that directions for locating the holy log from which is created the icon of Lord Jagannath comes from her. The much famed ‘Jhamu Yatra’ is celebrated in April- May where the devotes walk over a narrow trench strewn with lighted embers. It is a major festival here.
Pipli: Famous for applique work, now recognised world wide for its extremely colourful and magnificent work, it includes wall hangings, colourful umbrellas, bags, table clothes and many other things. Just 44 kms from Konark.
Beleswar: Famous for Shiva shrine along with a lovely sea beach. Just 20 kms from Konark.
Balighai: A glorious flat beach with gentle waves, lovely to watch sunrise and sunset and also a Sea Turtle Research Centre. 25 kms from Konark.
Air- Bhubaneswar is the nearest airport- 65 kms. Indian Airlines has flights from Delhi, Calcutta , Visakhapatnam , Nagpur , Hyderabad , Chennai and Mumbai.
Rail and Road- The nearest rail heads are Bhubaneswar (65 kms) and Puri (35 kms) on Marine Drive . Konark is connected by good all-weather motorable roads. Public and tourist bus services and taxis are available.
STD Code No. 06758; Country Code No. 00-91.
Yatrinivas (Tel. 35802) of State Tourism; Panthanivas, At/po Konark – 752111 (Tel.91-6758-8823,8831) & Travellers Lodge (Tel. 35823) of O.T.D.C; Inspection Bungalow (Tel. 35834) of P.W.D and other hotels.