Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan inaugurated a world-class tourist facilitation center and an interpretation center at Konark Sun Temple in Odisha on Utkal Divas on April 1, an official said on Wednesday. The Indian Oil Foundation has developed the interpretation center and the tourist facilitation center at the UNESCO World Heritage Site at a cost of Rs. 45 crore. Subrata Barma, Executive Director and CEO of Indian Oil Foundation, said the tourist facilitation center has adequate parking bays for buses, cars and two-wheelers of the visiting tourists, driver's facility block and ample public amenities like cafeteria, toilets and drinking water.
"The main avenue leading to the temple from outer ring road has been developed and has water bodies and suitable landscaping," he said. The interpretation center has been designed to be user-friendly and interactive, with multiple exhibits and multimedia displays. Having five galleries depicting the history, culture and architecture of Odisha, the center also features galleries dedicated to the many Sun temples in India and across the world. Billed as an architectural marvel of eastern India and an exceptional symbol of India's glorious cultural heritage, the Sun Temple is one of the important tourist centers in the region. Sun Temple of Konark, built in the middle of 13th century, is a massive conception of artistic magnificence and engineering dexterity. King Narasimhadeva I, the great ruler of the Ganga dynasty had built this temple, with the help of 1200 artisans within a period of 12 years (1243-1255 A.D.). Since the ruler used to worship the Sun, the temple was considered as a chariot for the Sun God. Konark Temple was designed in the form of a gorgeously decorated chariot mounted on 24 wheels , each about 10 feet in diameter, and drawn by 7 mighty horses. It is really difficult to understand, how this huge temple, every inch-space of which was so wonderfully carved, could have been completed within such a short time. Whatever that might be, the Konark temple even in its present ruined state, still a wonder to the whole world. Great poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote of Konark: “here the language of stone surpasses the language of man.”
By: Swati Kaushal