I had heard stories of Konark’s glorious past numerous times and had also done some reading beforehand. But when I visited the Sun Temple, I gave in to the temptation of hiring an ASI guide! And it was a wise decision! The stories of the floating deity, the vanished deula, Kalapahar, the powerful magnet that disturbed the compasses of Portuguese ships – transported me to a magical era captured in Time!
A weekend trip to Konark:
Stopping for Chhena Jhilli at Nimapara
If you are planning to drive to Konark from Bhubaneswar, make sure you stop at one of the sweet shops of Nimapara for breakfast. The crunchy puris with the flavourful & spicy ghuguni followed by the delicacy – chenna jhilli – soft, sweet, drowned in an almost caramel-y chashni would be the perfect kick-start to the trip!
A Dose of History at Varahi Temple
If you are an explorer in spirit, like me, take a detour to the Varahi Temple, believed to be older than the Konark Temple! It is somewhere on the road to Kakatpur from Nimapara & we had to ask a lot of people to reach the exact spot! The quest for history took us along narrow village pathways, past houses, ponds & agricultural fields to find the ruins of an ancient temple surrounded by fresh lush greenery.
Stay at Yatri Niwas
Well-maintained lawns, a bar, restaurant serving hearty home-style food and pet ducks roaming around – the Yatri Niwas of OTDC was our abode for a couple of days.
History Lessons at Konark Museum
Explore the Konark Museum that has well-preserved pieces of art from the temple. Come to know of the history of the temple in details.
Beach Vibes at Chandrabhaga
Spend some time at Chandrabhaga beach over cups of tea or coconut water. It is one of the less crowded beaches in the region. Lined with Jhau or Casuarina trees, it is also one of the most beautiful beaches. Do not consider bathing as the undercurrents in the water make it a dangerous one too.
The Legend of Ramchandi Temple
Folklore has it – Kalapahar (the destroyer of numerous Hindu temples & deities in Odisha) had come to the Ramchandi Temple after attacking the Konark Temple. He spotted an old woman at the entrance who asked him to wait until she got some water from the Chandrabhaga river! Kalapahar waited for a while & then realising his mistake entered the temple to discover that the deity was floating in mid-water! It is believed that the old woman was the Goddess herself!
An added attraction of this temple is the skeletal remains of an unbelievably huge whale shark, the carcass of which had surfaced on the beach nearby, many years ago! At the Chandrabhaga estuary, you can also indulge in some water sports.
Long Drive on Konark-Puri Marine Drive
A long drive on the picturesque Konark-Puri marine drive along the Balukhand-Konark Wildlife Sanctuary is a great idea! Visit the lighthouse or simply enjoy the views of the sparkling blue sea through the jhau trees – the smooth & well-maintained road will make every experience pleasant. We were also quite lucky to have spotted a fox from the sanctuary, crossing the road.
Spend the sunset at the Sun Temple
Sit on the natmandir & watch the bustle of the tourists slowly die down with the fall of evening, giving way to a surreal solitude!
As I watched people clicking selfies, chatting on the Colossal steps of the jagamohana, I didn’t realize when the noises had died & darkness had descended. The Sun God, after a tiring day had returned to his abode in the imaginary deula turning it into a source of light that lit up only his temple as the rest of the universe remained dark!
Though the credit of this magical lighting goes to the arc lights placed at the bottom of the jagamohana, spending such a sunset there is highly recommended. Believe it or not, a fraction from the past is left behind in this Temple of Time, a glimpse of which can be got in the twilight!
By Aratrika Das Brahmachari – Aratrika is a Social Media Consultant & a blogger