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Things To Do In Konark
A charming small town situated in the Puri district of Orissa, Konark is as ancient and religiously significant as it is breathtakingly beautiful. It has been named after its main attraction and most popular tourist spot, the Konark Sun Temple. Konark can be translated to ‘Angles of the Sun’ in Sanskrit, with the temple being dedicated to the Sun god, Surya.
While the religious aspect of this town makes it a special place for all Hindu devotees, its beautiful beaches are also the perfect place for pilgrims and tourists alike to take a break from a busy life and enjoy the serenity of nature. Read on to know about some of the best things to do while in Konark.
Konark Sun Temple
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sun Temple is one of the last standing structures in the country that dates back to the 13th century. The monument is designed in the shape of a giant chariot with 24 wheels, that is being pulled by seven horses. The seven horses are meant to depict the days of the week, with the 24 wheels depicting the hours of the day; a three-tiered pyramidal roof tops the chariot.
This massive shrine is dedicated to the Sun god Surya, with three deities located on three different sides of the temple. It has been constructed such that the rays of the sun illuminate one of the three deities during different parts of the day.
A number of legends surround the construction of the temple. The most famous of them is the one where Samba, the son of Krishna and Jambavati, was cursed by his father with leprosy for walking into the bathing chamber of one of Krishna’s wives. Samba was advised by a sage to worship Surya in that part of town where the Sun Temple now stands today.
Another legend emphasizes that the temple used to possess a huge amount of power; power that was credited to the presence of strong magnets that were used in the construction of the temple. Due to the magnetic effects, ships passing through the Konark region were attracted by the magnets that caused heavy damage to the vessels while also disrupting their compasses. The Portuguese apparently removed the magnetic lodestone to protect their ships, which lead to the destruction of the temple walls and disruption of its architecture.
Most of these are supposed to be myths since there has never been any record of the presence of lodestones in the temple or even in Konark. The myths have helped create a mystical presence surrounding the monument and the town, which has only driven more crowd towards this region.
Visit Museum of Archaeological Survey of India
Present within the grounds of the Sun Temple, the museum was constructed in 1968 and is packed with splendid carvings and sculptures that were discovered during the excavations of the temple. The four galleries of the museum contain over 200 different antiquities in the form of paintings, manuscripts, stone sculptures, replicas and models, making it a treasure trove of history for all visitors.
Celebrate Konark Dance Festival
The Konark Dance Festival is one of the most significant celebrations in the state, one that witnesses crowds of tourists who gather here each year to be a part of this festival and enjoy its many attractions. The event takes place in an open air auditorium in the month of December each year with the Sun Temple forming the backdrop of the festival.
The tradition began in 1986 at the Konark Natya Mandap and was founded by Padamshree Guru Gangadhar Pradhan with the intention of reviving classical Indian dance forms like Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, Kuchipudi and Odissi. It brings together dancers and musicians from all over the country who showcase their skills to a diverse crowd; there are also exhibits of handicrafts and sculptures put on display that stand testament to the hidden talents of the Indian populace.
Shop for Fish at Astaranga Beach
The word ‘astaranga’ can be translated to ‘colorful sunset’; a name befitting for a beach that offers some spectacular sunset views along with pristine shores that attract numerous tourists as well as locals looking for some respite from a busy city life.
Astaranga is also a famous fishing village where a market is set up each morning selling different varieties of fresh fish. Tourists can also visit the famous shrine of Pir Jahania that is situated close to the beach.
Take a Walk on Chandrabhaga Beach
Orissa is known for its immaculate shores and lovely beaches that have managed to maintain their pristine beauty with the help of proper maintenance and less crowds. The Chandrabhaga Beach is one such area that has also been awarded the Blue Flag Certification on World Environment, and is one of the most popular beaches in the state. Named after the Chandrabhaga River, the beach also holds religious events like the Maghe Mela that witnesses throngs of Hindu devotees, who collect together and take a holy plunge into the water before praying to the Sun God at sunrise. The International Sand Art Festival and the Indian Surf Festival also takes place here.
Apart from being the hub of religious pilgrimage, Konark also offers an amazing shopping experience to tourists in the form of locally made handicrafts, sculptures, carvings and ornaments that are a part of Orissa’s heritage and tradition. The famous Pattachitra paintings and appliqué work handmade goods that the neighboring village of Pipli is known for can also be found in the local shops of Konark.
The Konark Urban Haat is located near the Sun Temple and was established by the Orissa Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation to help the handicraft industry in the region gain more exposure with the tourists. It is a great place to shop and features numerous souvenir items on sale; most notable among them are the Chhatris and items made from seashells and conch shells, which will make for great gifts as well.