A treasure trove of heritage and culture – The New Indian Express

Express Message Service

If “rest” were a place, then the state of Odisha would best embody the adjective. An antidote to the chaos of Calcutta and the power of the north-eastern states of India, Odisha embodies calm and exudes the grace of his classical dance.

According to the latest news, the state is poised to host the 15th edition of the Men’s Hockey World Championship from January 13-29 at the brand new Birsa Munda Stadium, named after the legendary freedom fighter. The tournament will be split between this stadium in Sundergarh district, the cradle of Indian ice hockey, and the famous Kalinga stadium in the national capital, Bhubaneswar.

From sports to sightseeing, an hour’s drive from the capital, the cityscape merges with wide open streets lined with rows of coconut trees and slowly gathers along Konark’s beaches. Despite the efforts of Cyclone Fani in 2019, the country’s green blanket has quickly reclaimed most of its tracts, and the long stretches are reminiscent of coastal roads in India’s southern states, only this is more a land of architecture and sand art than backwaters and sand beach is culture.

Konark, together with Puri and Bhubaneswar, forms a tip of Odisha’s ‘golden triangle’ and no first visit to the state is complete without paying homage to these places; They’re leaders for a reason, because Konark is literally taking the wheel.

The Konark Sun Temple sits atop the foundation of a 13th-century stone chariot adorned with 24 intricate wheels that are the monument’s emblem and is undoubtedly the flag in Odisha’s crown. A tour begins with an imposing pair of monolithic elephant-backed lions at the entrance to this complex and circles fragments of the temple and the Natyashala, which dominates the other remains with its intricate carvings.

Pattachitra paintings by local artists, Shri Jagannath painted on a coconut shell; Mr. Rajiv Seth, Project Manager, Tata Naval Hockey Academy Odisha

The Kalinga-style architectural marvel is covered in unparalleled artwork, which includes nearly 1,700 figurines depicting dancing gods and goddesses, as well as scenes from daily life intended to be both devotional and educational. “Our ancestors were brilliant; If you know how to use these sundials, you don’t need a watch to tell the time,” says Pradipta Malla, who has been giving tours here for 30 years and within moments catches a glimpse of the shadow cast by the sun, counts the more delicately carved spokes, does some quick mental arithmetic, and announces the exact time with a big gesture while his guests erupt in applause.

Devout groups of Gujarati women perform the garba in the gardens, a unique way of offering their prayers to the sun god, but not out of place in a state where dance is a form of prayer. Every year, the Temple of the Sun forms the backdrop for the Konark Dance Festival
1st-5th December.

The beach stretch of Konark on the
government-run eco retreat
(Photo | Shikha Tripathi)

Traditional devotion is not left far behind in Odisha, home to one of the four dhams or spiritual centers of India. The Shri Jagannath Temple in Puri, barely an hour’s drive from Konark, is welcoming devotees again after being closed by the pandemic.

While Shri Jagannath rewards the pious who dare brave his long lines and enter the Sea of ​​Pilgrims with a glimpse of the statue of the Vishnu avatar, pride for the rest lies not only in the Odia architectural style of the temple that is housed within seen in smaller surrounding temples, but also in its Chhappan Bhog delicacies, the 56 types of dishes prepared as temple offerings.

In a religious nation like India, while Puri’s laurels rest on Sri Jagannath, few know that the city is also home to Golden Beach, one of the most prestigious Blue Flag beaches in the world. After Puri, the other faith Odisha worships is hockey; Cricket takes a backseat here and the country’s national sport basks in the glory it deserves. Odisha lives and breathes hockey; It hosts the capital’s iconic Kalinga Stadium and now the world-class infrastructure at Birsa Munda Stadium, making Odisha the only destination to host it for the second time.

The state has also produced international players like Birendra Lakra, Amit Rohidas and Deep Grace
Ekka and grassroots enthusiasts alike. Padma Shri and former Indian hockey team captain Dilip Tirkey explains: “It’s a game that’s played in gullies across the state, just like cricket is in the rest of the country, making it a place that has brought quite a bit to the sport World class players and fans.”

For every traditional exploration the state has, Odisha has a surprising alternative. For every Chilika Lake there is a Mangalajodi teeming with migratory birds. For every piece of pattachitra sold at Ekamra Haat in Bhubaneswar, there are houses with walls covered with it in Raghurajpur village.

Odisha also guards its most famous guest, the Olive Ridley tortoise, which comes on its annual migration, an experience sought after by enthusiasts who little know that the state is also home to the country’s second-largest mangrove ecosystem called Bhitarkanika. The relatively small state is packed with considerable wonders, the greatest clue of which lies in its slogan – India’s best kept secret.

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