Famous for the exquisite Sun Temple, the sleepy town of Konark is a far cry
Famous for the exquisite Sun Temple, the sleepy town of Konark is a far cryfrom vibrant Puri. On most days it’s quiet, and thus an ideal destination for some-one looking for a laidback holiday. The Chandrabhaga Beach here is known for its glorious sunrise views, but it’s more popular as a sacred spot where the devout congregate for a holy dip during the local festival of Maghamela, usually held in January. The first glimpse of the beach will take your breath away. Emerald waters, long stretches of virgin beaches and casuarina groves will transport you to an ethereal world. The beach is mostly empty except in the evenings and early mornings.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
The beach is 3km from the town and sees crowds only in the evenings, though it has glorious sunrise views. The main beachfront is small, with a few stalls that sell shell crafts and a couple of tea vendors. One of the main attractions here is the Konark Lighthouse, which you can climb to get a spectacular view of the sea and the surrounding areas.
Tip Be wary of the choppy waters off the beach. They are not safe to swim in and a signboard cautions that undercurrents are dangerous
◆ Lighthouse Entry Adults ₹10; Children Free Timings 4.00–5.00pm
Konark Sun Temple
This Sun Temple, with its exquisite stone sculptures, is a World Heritage Site. Shaped like a grand chariot drawn by seven horses, with 12 decorated wheels on either side, the temple is dedicated to the Sun God. The monument is partly in ruins, but the intricate stone work and its colossal size are still awe-inspiring. It was built in the 13th century by the ruler Narasimhadev I (1258–64).
At the base of the temple, you’ll find sculptures of scenes such as that of a king holding a conference, or animals and birds.The Konark Dance Festival is held here in December every year.
◆ Entry Indians ₹30; Foreigners ₹500 (free for children below 12) Timings 6.00am–8.00pm Photography Free Videography ₹250 Guide fee ₹150–300 (depending on the number of people in a group)
The museum has exhibits from the ruins of the Sun Temple, including interesting stone panels, colossal sandstone images of Surya, a reconstructed chariot wheel and sculptures of Varaha, Tribi-krama and Narasimha.
◆ Entry Adults ₹10 (free for children below 15) Timings 10.00am–5.00pm Closed Fridays
WHERE TO STAY AND EAT
The OTDC-run Yatri Nivas (Tel: 06758- 236820; Tariff: ₹1,000–3,600) is decent. The restaurant serves Indian and Chinese meals. The Sun Temple Hotel (Tel: 236890; Tariff: ₹900–3,500) serves good food and Surya Inn (Tel: 236841; Tariff: ₹800–1,800) is a good option. Dhabas and Marwari bhojanalayas near the Sun Temple serve simple food.
When to go Winter is the best time to visit Konark
OTDC, Yatri Nivas, Konark, Tel 06758-236820/ 21
STD code 06758
Air The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar (65km/ 1hr). Taxi costs ₹1,400–1,600
Rail There is no railhead at Konark and the nearest railway station is at Puri (34km/ 45mins). Taxi ₹800–1,000 Road From Bhubaneswar, take NH203 towards Puri and take a left for Konark from Pipli. From Puri, take the Marine Drive towards Konark