Travel Diaries 2019: Things you must do when visiting Konark
Not far from Puri, around 35 km away, and an hour’s drive is the Konark Sun Temple, an UNESCO World Heritage Site and a structure which has inspired awe in the hearts and minds of all the enlightened souls who have witnessed its sublime architecture.
The proverbial dust has finally been settled and the days of the devastating cyclone of ‘Fani’ which wrecked the beautiful state of Odisha just a few months back with its malicious force is over. Travellers are flocking again to Puri, one of the holiest shrines of Hinduism which is always resplendent in all its pious and ethereal glory, and which soothes the heart and mind of any weary traveller who visits its shore.
Not far from Puri, around 35 km away, and an hour’s drive is the Konark Sun Temple, an UNESCO World Heritage Site and a structure which has inspired awe in the hearts and minds of all the enlightened souls who have witnessed its sublime architecture. Konark Sun Temple is the perfect example of an era when the Kalingan architecture reached its pinnacle with its jaw dropping intricate works and geometric precision. Konark is one of the most beautiful tourist spots in the Eastern region of India.
These are the list of things you can do when you visit Konark:
•The Konark Sun Temple is believed to have been built by the medieval Eastern Ganga dynasty ruler Narasinghadeva I, who probably wanted to commemorate his victories in war by creating this massive structure. The name Konark has come from the Indian words of Sun-Arka and Angles-Kona, justifying also that this beautiful temple is dedicated to the Sun God. The temple has been built in the form of a chariot with wheels and driven horses, probably signifying that the passage of the Sun God across the sky also symbolises the passing of days and time. The local guides inside the temple complex will tell you that in ancient times, one could gauge the time by just looking at the shadow being cast on the spoke of the wheels, by the reflection of the sun rays here.
This temple is also known for its intricate works on its walls which are mind blowing. Though generally spoken about due its erotic statues, the temple also has works from scenes of a daily life together with images of Gods and Goddesses engraved on its walls. The temple also hosts a classical dance festival inside its premises every year.
•The road trip from Puri to Konark is not often spoken about in popular media but it is easily one of the best drives in India and though short in duration, it feels heavenly as it cross crosses thick vegetation (part of Balukhand Konark Wildlife Sanctuary) on its way. This marine drive has the sea coast on one side and forests on the other, with almost zero traffic and a beautifully paved smooth road in between. Tourists while driving on it can catch a glimpse of sea waves at certain bends though only for a fleeting moment. This stretch is also suitable for some fine landscape photography.
•Just before reaching Konark, on the way is the serene Chandrabhaga beach named after the river which has almost dried up now. In Hinduism, it is a very auspicious place as legend has it that Lord Krishna’s son ‘Shambo’, prayed here to Sun God and got cured of his leprosy. The Chandrabhaga beach is a must stop for anybody visiting Konark, but one should be careful while going down into its waves to swim and must take a local guide as there are reportedly many quicksand spots in its vicinity.
•After visiting the Konark Sun Temple, not many people will venture further, but around one hour away from it is one of the most beautiful beaches in this part of the world – Astaranga. People visiting Konark should make it a point to visit the Astaranga beach and experience one more gem in the tourist calendar of Odisha. Astaranga in local language means colourful sunset and the place has a calming effect on those who visit it. There is a small hamlet adjoining where people are dependent on fishing and salt collection.
•Coming back to the Konark Temple, the place is also surrounded by many interesting stories. One of the stories, which you get to hear from the temple guards inside, is that this temple supposedly had a huge magnet once which was placed atop the main structure, which was used to guide the ships to its shore. That magnet was taken by the British thereby endangering the very basis of the symmetry of this temple (this is however just a theory). It is also said that this temple took twelve years to construct involving around 1200 artisans under a master builder and his equally talented son. When the European sailors came, they called this temple the Black Pagoda.