Venue: Konark Sun Temple, Konark, Orissa
Duration: 3-7 days
Highlight: Renowned dancers from all parts of the country assemble here and give fabulous performances.
Konark Dance Festival is celebrated every year at the open air auditorium of the Sun Temple at Konark. The festival lasts for three to seven days. It is a long celebration that is usually hosted in the month of December. It is during this festivity that the place draws huge crowds every year; tourists from all over India and abroad come to Konark to enjoy India's culture. Eminent dancers come from different parts of the country to witness this grand extravaganza and be a part of the festive celebrations. On the occasion of Konark Dance Festival, one gets the opportunity to catch the glimpses of the various dance forms of India. It provides a platform where you get to witness unity in diversity, which is reflected in the varied dance performances taking place in the same parlance.
The Sun Temple of Konark is also called the Black Pagoda. It was erected in the mid-thirteenth century by Raja Narasinghs Deva-I of the Ganga Dynasty. It stands as the testament to the artistic expertise of the time. The whole temple's architectural design is unique and exotic. It is built in a form of a chariot drawn by seven horses dedicated to the Sun god. The Sun Temple has lost many of its original structures due to lack of repair but what remains can evoke wonder out of any layman. The dance festival was first organized in 1989. It was held at the open air auditorium at Konark as an assembly of the classical dances of India to increase Orissa's position as a tourist destination. The fiesta is mainly organized by Orissa Dance Academy and Eastern Zonal Cultural Center, Kolkata to strengthen Indian Classical Art's stand in today's global market.
Types of Dances
For dance lovers, Konark Dance Festival is a long awaited occasion. The major dance performances are Odissi, Bharathnatyam, Manipuri, and Kathak. Othere than these, the tribal dance form like Chau gets a lot of exposure in this platform. The most interesting fact about this dance festival is that it helps new dance forms to come up. Buddhist artists who are yet to make an impact on large scale perform here to gain recognition. The place being a hub of dance connoisseur, with each artist getting his/her due appreciation and recognition.
Spread of Festival
It is one of the most enthralling experiences to see the diverse cultural performances of our country blending with each other. The Sun Temple is over 700 years old. It has Natyamandira which is equally ancient, where the dance performances are held. UNESCO has declared it as one of the world heritage sites, thus attracting tourists all through the year. However, the footfall increases twofold during the festival as hundreds of people turn up especially to enjoy the extraordinary experience of skilled dancer's performing at the backdrop of ancient sculptures.
Konark Tourist Attractions
In addition to the dance festival, there is a craft mela and food mela which are also organized. While the food mela provides you with the specialized delicacies of each region, thereby giving you an insight into the diverse culture of India, the craft mela displays the fine ethnic craftsmanship of the artists. Fiurthermore, the venue of the dance festival, i.e. the Sun Temple at Konark is in itself an architectural marvel. Formed way back in the 13th century on the beach of Chandrabagha, every inch of its walls showcase exquisite artistic design of the bygone era. In short, the festivity provides you with the best of all, delicacies, dances, arts and crafts and sightseeing and this is what makes the whole experience of visiting the sun temple during the dance festival fascinating and memorable.
How to Reach
The easiest way to reach Konark is to drive either from Puri, 35 km or Bhubaneswar, 65 km away. The drive from Puriitself is an amazing experience. It goes along the sea front through coastal villages and its beautiful houses. You can hire a taxi or even travel by buses that are frequently and easily available form Puri. It takes about an hour to reach Konark from Puri. If you are travelling from Bhubaneswar it will take you 3 to 4 hours to reach Konark. Trips to Konark by car are pocket friendly and comfortable too. It can cost you anywhere between Rs 750-1000 depending on the car and A/C or non A/C. If you are adventures and love to explore new areas, hire a bicycle and cycle your way to Konark on the coastal edge!