BANGALORE: Tracking the path of the sun in its journey across the sky, Konark is a must-see for travel enthusiasts. Located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, at a distance of 65 kilometres from the capital city of Bhubaneshwar, this UNESCO world heritage site is a shining example of the architectural splendor of ancient India.
The entire temple was conceived as a chariot of the Sun God pulled by a set of seven horses.
The place itself derives its name from a combination of two words, kona (corner) and arka (Sun). In a perfect blend of art and science, the temple combines intricate workmanship with significant scientific thought. Each of the wheels acts as a sundial while the main sanctum is situated in such a way that the first rays of the sun illuminate the principle entry. The temple comprises of a main sanctum, a jagamohana and a detached nata-mandira (hall of dance). Poet Rabindranath Tagore famously said of Konark, "Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man."
It is also a center for Odissi art and culture and the Konark Dance Festival is hosted here in the month of December.
Orissa also has much to offer for the wildlife enthusiast. At a distance of 100 kilometres from Bhubaneshwar is the Chilika lake, the largest brackish water lagoon in Asia.
Covering an area of 1110 square kilometres, it is home to the endangered Irrawady dolphins and also plays host to a large number of migratory birds in the winter, that arrive from as far as the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea, remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz steppes of Mongolia, Central and South East Asia.
Cruises are available for different time durations and there are several islands that double up as picnic spots like the Kalijai Island, Honeymoon Island, Breakfast Island, Birds Island, Nalabana (Island of Reeds) and the Parikud Island. The island of Kalijai also has a temple dedicated to Goddess Kalijai and a big fair is held on the occasion of Makar Sankranti every year.