Located along the coast of the Bay of Bengal in Odisha, Konark is a magnificent town with a glorious past, stunning monuments, and splendid natural beauty. The name ‘Konark’ is derived from the words 'Kona' meaning corner, and 'Arka' meaning sun. The town's historical legacy dates back hundreds of years ago, and it has found itself being mentioned in the ancient Hindu scriptures called the Puranas. It is a great place for history buffs, architecture critiques, and beach lovers alike. And the best way to explore this charming town is to visit it all - from the temples to the museums to the beaches. So we bring you a carefully curated list of the best places to visit in Konark.
The 800-year-old Konark Sun Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a true architectural marvel. As the name suggests, the temple is dedicated to the Sun God, Surya, and what better way to depict that than to build the temple in the form of a giant rath or chariot of the Sun God! Built in the 13th century by King Narasimha Deva I of the Eastern Ganga dynasty, the temple is one of the last standing structures before the 15th century in the country. The majestic structure is adorned with intricate stone carvings that portray the the-then contemporary lifestyle.
The most fascinating part of the temple's architecture is its depiction of time. There are 12 wheels carved on the North and South sides of the temple, which represent the 12 months in a year. The chariot of Lord Surya is pulled by 7 horses which stand for seven days of the week. And finally, the 8 spokes of each wheel represent the day and night cycle and act as sundials. All of this, ultimately makes the Konark Sun Temple almost like an eight-century-old clock!
The temple's foundation is embellished with relics of musicians, dancers, and animals. During the Konark Dance Festival which is usually held in February, the temple is transformed into a stage dedicated to devotees of the Sun God.
Timings: The temple opens at 6 am sharp and closes by 8 pm in the evening.
Entry Fees: The entry fee for Indian citizens is INR 40 while for foreign visitors the ticket charges are INR 600.
Things To Do: Worship, photography, and go on a guided tour around the temple.
Also Read: 5 Interesting Temples In Odisha
Konark Beach is regarded as one of the finest beaches along the east coast. Owing to its immaculately clean shores and crystal clear waters, it is one of the most beautiful and pollution-free beaches in the country. It is also known as Chandrabhaga beach, as the Chandrabhaga River joins the sea here. A leisurely stroll along the beach at the time of sunrise or sunset is just magical. It is located at a distance of 3 km from the well-known Sun temple and draws lots of tourists every year. The beauty and charisma of this place are simply beyond compare owing to the clean sands, turquoise waters, sun, and cool breeze.
Tourists can also enjoy beach activities like sunbathing, surfing, and many more, though the presence of strong currents makes swimming unsafe. For those seeking adventure, the beach offers ample scope for water sports activities. Several cultural festivals and religious fairs are organized here frequently which attract a lot of tourists and devotees to the beach. The famous “International Sand Art Festival” is where renowned sand artists from all over the globe converge to showcase their craft. And the yearly Magha Saptami Mela, a seven-day festival that takes place during Magha month every year, is also held at this beach.
Timings: There are no specific timings for the beach. You can visit the beach any time of the day or even during the night.
Entry Fees: Entry to Konark Beach is free.
Things To Do: Sunbathing, surfing, boating, photography, and water sports.
The ASI Museum is located near the Konark temple and is the perfect getaway if you wish to spend a day amidst the history and culture of Odisha. It is the home to India's finest architectural creations of the 13th century. The museum imparts the rich history of the Sun Temple by displaying the stunning ruins of the temple's stone sculptures. The museum's space is divided into four galleries and houses about 260 antiques! Each of the galleries displays different stone sculptures depending on its theme.
The first gallery boasts a collection of 62 antiques and artifacts including a sandstone sculpture of Lord Surya, a Khondalite wheel (Khondalites are metamorphic rocks particularly found in Odisha and were extensively used for the construction of the Konark Sun Temple), and different incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The second gallery showcases a whooping 108 antiques including a reconstructed piece of the temple wall, a sculpture of a crocodile head, and a drummer. The third and the fourth gallery together hold 90 artifacts including images of Surya Narayana, celestial nymphs, the king and his troops, a roaring lion, and various sensual figurines.
Timings: The museum is open from Saturday up to Thursday between 9 am to 5 pm. It is closed on Fridays.
Entry Fees: There’s a minimal entry fee of INR 5.
Things To Do: Explore and learn about the history of Konark. You can opt for a guided tour and get to know about the mythological stories relating to the various artifacts displayed here.
Also Read: Traveling To Odisha During Covid
Ramachandi Temple, an ancient temple situated on the banks of the Kushabhadra River, is one of the popular places of pilgrimage in Odisha. The temple is believed to be older than the Sun Temple and is dedicated to the Goddess Ramachandi. The Ramachandi temple is made up of sandstones and laterite and has two structures namely Jagamohana and Vimana. One-half of the temple is hidden behind beautiful casuarina plantations. An open-roof mandapa has been recently added in front of the Jagamohana structure. Inside the temple, you will find the Goddess Ramachandi's idol seated atop a lotus flower.
A famous mythological story about this temple is that the rebel Brahmin Kalapahada, who had converted to Islam, had vowed to destroy every Hindu temple in the country. When he reached the Ramachandi Temple he was met by the Goddess herself, who was disguised as a maid. She asked the Brahmin to wait while she brought him some water and walked away towards the river. After a long wait, Kalapahada went inside the temple only to find the Goddess's idol missing and stormed out after the maid.
He later found the idol floating in the river and no maid in sight. The very same night, the Brahmin dreamt of the Goddess and she had commanded him to build her a temple on the banks of the Kushabhadra River. This is how it is believed that the temple came into existence!
Timings: The temple opens at 6 am in the morning and remains open to visitors until 8 pm in the evening.
Entry Fees: There is no entry fee for visiting the Ramachandi temple.
Things To Do: Worship, nature walk around the temple and the nearby river.
Named after Goddess Ramachandi, the presiding deity of Konark, the Ramachandi beach is located at the junction of the River Kushabhadra and the Bay of Bengal. It is situated on Marine Drive and is one of the most beautiful beaches in Odisha. The beach is comparatively isolated but well-maintained, making it a great location for those simply looking for solitude and wishing to get away from the hustle-bustle of the city. The beige sand and pristine blue waters against the stunning backdrop of a sunrise or sunset are a sight to behold!
Ramchandi Beach offers a lot of things to experience, from a variety of water sports to visiting the nearby Ramachandi Temple. You will find a number of devotees around the beach. You will also spot numerous shacks and restaurants that serve delicious, pocket-friendly snacks that go great with the view. For all the adventure lovers, the beach offers numerous water sports like surfing, scuba diving, jet skiing, motor boating, parasailing, and more. The Ramachandi Festival, an international surfing competition, and the Konark Sand Art Festival are held here.
Timings: The beach is open throughout the day as well as the night.
Entry Fees: There is no entrance fee at the beach.
Things To Do: You can indulge in a number of water sports like scuba diving, speed boat rides, jet skiing, surfing, and swimming. You can also take part in the annual sand sculpture festival that is organized at the beach.
The Konark Natya Mandap was built in 1986 to replicate the majestic Sun Temple. Tucked within casuarinas and cashew trees atop a sand dune, the Natya Mandap has become a temple of performing arts renowned all over the world. This cultural landmark attracts visitors with showy colors and subtle yet vibrant musical tunes. The Mandap has three stages built in the form of an amphitheater and the complex functions as a residential center of learning for classical dance aspirants from all parts of Odisha. It aims to preserve and promote the rich cultural heritage of Orissa through the organization of dance, music, and cultural festivals all around the year.
The Natya Mandap follows the ways of the ancient Natyashala, that is, a Gurukul for classical dance and music. It provides teaching and training in classical dances like Odissi, Gotipua, and Chhau; classical music like playing the Mardal, Tabla, and Odissi vocal form; and other various forms of Orissan art and culture.
The Natya Mandap is a great tourist attraction where visitors get a glance at the classical culture along with the folk and tribal culture of Orissa. They also arrange numerous workshops on different aspects of Orissan art and culture that go on around the year, for all those wanting to learn something new and explore various traditional art forms.
Timings: The Natya Mandap is open to visitors from 9 am to 5 pm.
Entry Fees: The entry fee is INR 100 when it is not the dance festival season. If you wish to visit the festival organized during the month of February, the one-day pass costs approximately INR 1000.
Things To Do: Photography, go on a guided tour around the complex, take part in the cultural workshops, and enjoy the various cultural performances during the festival.
Another spectacular beach in Konark that demands a visit is Astaranga Beach. Situated in the Prachi Valley, the beach lies on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. The name ‘Astranga’ translates to ‘colorful sunset’ and the beach is befitting of the name given as it sees incredibly beautiful, multi-hued sunsets. Apart from the mesmerizing sunsets that the beach offers, it is a natural hotspot for a diverse variety of birds and even sea turtles during nesting season. A hidden gem among the numerous beaches of Odisha, Astaranga is an excellent destination for some breathtaking photographs.
The beach is tagged as a 'photographer's delight' due to the unusually vibrant hues during sunset. You will find the sky painted in hues of pink, purple, magenta, orange, and golden. It is the fishing center of the Puri district so you will see scores of fishermen and boatmen returning from the sea with their nets and the day’s catch at sunset. You will also find a fresh seafood market every morning. And while Astaranga beach has zero water activities, you can indulge in some fishing or grilling fish at the beach!
Timings: The beach is open to the public throughout the day.
Entry Fees: There is no entry fee at Astaranga Beach.
Things To Do: Swimming, surfing, sunbathing, picnic along the beach, photography.
The magnificent town of Konark is laden with rich history and culture. Home to majestic temples, pristine beaches, and a variety of cultural festivals, the town simply calls out to explorers and tourists for one visit! And to kick off this beachside vacation with a bang, why not start with the best places to visit in Konark? These amazing locations will certainly add some stunning photographs and memories to your vacation.
What Is Konark Famous For?
Konark is renowned for the Konark Sun Temple, a temple dedicated to the Sun God, Lord Surya. This 800-year-old structure is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a true architectural marvel with intricate and stunning stone carvings depicting Lord Surya riding his chariot.
Who Destroyed The Konark Sun Temple?
As per famous folklore, the temple was destroyed by Kalapahad who invaded Odisha in 1508. He is said to have destroyed many other Hindu temples in Odisha along with the Konark Sun Temple.
Why Is The Konark Sun Temple Door Closed?
The temple door was closed post the 19th century as the last pavilion of the temple had weakened as well and was on the verge of collapse.
What Is The Best Time To Visit Konark?
The months between September and March are the best time to visit Konark. Since the town is located on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, the climate here is humid throughout the year. But during the winter months, the weather is cool and pleasant, perfect for sightseeing and exploration.
Is Photography Allowed Inside The Konark Temple?
According to the Odisha High Court, certain restrictions have been imposed on photography inside the temple. Only professional photographers with an ASI License are allowed to photograph inside the temple premises.
How Many Days Are Enough For Konark?
1 - 2 days are more than enough to explore the town in detail. Konark is a moderately-sized town and has a handful of tourist attractions that can be easily covered and enjoyed within 2 days.
What Is The Famous Food Of Konark?
Konark is famous for its local Bengali delicacies like akhala (a rice dish), mandia jau, dahi baigana, dahi machha, dahi bhindi (fried eggplant, fried fish, fried lady finger dipped in spicy yogurt sauce), a variety of pithas, and rasgulla (a cottage cheese dessert).
Is Chandrabhaga A Blue Flag Beach?
Chandrabhaga Beach in Konark is India’s first Blue Flag Beach and was given this certification in June 2018. The Blue Flag certification is a tag given to environmentally-friendly, clean beaches, equipped with amenities of international standards for tourists.
Does Ramachandi Beach Have Water Sports?
Yes, Ramachandi Beach offers its visitors a variety of water sports like scuba diving, speed boat rides, jet skiing, and surfing.