Bhubaneswar: Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday inaugurated the world-class interpretation centre and tourist facilities at Konark Sun Temple on the occasion of Utkal Divas celebrations in Odisha.
The Indian Oil Foundation has developed the interpretation centre and the tourist facilitation centre at a cost of Rs. 45 crore.
On the occasion, Pradhan said the state-of-the-art interpretation centre showcases the unique architectural features of Konark Sun Temple.
The Minister said that the Konark Sun Temple is Odisha’s pride and it is important that the world is made aware of this architectural marvel, for which the interpretation centre is a step in that direction.
He also complemented Padma Vibhushan Raghunath Mahapatra for recreating the sculptural wealth of Konark sun Temple at the interpretation centre for the benefit of both national and International visitors.
He further said that the modern amenities that have been developed at the temple complex would attract more tourists in future.
Shigeru Aoyagi, Director and UNESCO representative to India, said that UNESCO is continuously working for the preservation of heritage monuments, like the Sun Temple at Konark, across the world.
He hoped that the interpretation centre will not only educate the tourists about the rich history of the temple but will also throw light on the natural and cultural heritage of Odisha.
Billed as an architectural marvel of Eastern India and an exceptional symbol of India’s glorious cultural heritage, the Sun Temple of Konark in Odisha is one of the important tourist attractions in the region.
Built in the 13th century, the Konark temple was conceived as a gigantic chariot of the Sun God, with 12 pairs of exquisitely ornamented wheels pulled by seven horses. Majestic in conception, the temple is indeed one of the most sublime monuments of India, famous as much for its imposing dimensions and faultless proportions as for the harmonious integration of architectural grandeur, fine traceries and scrollwork.
As the Sun Temple stands as a testimony to our centuries-old heritage, there is an urgent and pressing need to re-connect the masses – especially the youth – with the rich culture and history of Odisha. This necessitates further development of this UNESCO world heritage site so that visitors can explore it in greater detail and spend quality time discovering its many facets.
This led The Indian Oil Foundation, a non-profit trust formed by Indian Oil Corporation, to set the stage for creating world-class infrastructure facilities for Indian and foreign tourists alike.
The sprawling Main Avenue leading from the outer ring road to the Sun Temple has been beautified with artistic landscaping. Elegant water bodies have been developed along the way, with well-manicured gardens, water-bodies, paved roads, ample streetlights and high-mast towers adding a touch of class to the entire setting.
To make a visit to Konark comfortable, IOF has developed an extensive Main Parking Area for tourist buses spread across five acres. This facility has space for 60 buses and modern washroom facilities have also been made available here alongside relaxation facilities and snacks counters for the bus drivers and others.
A drop-off point has also been developed closer to the temple. Here, parking facilities for cars, 3-wheelers and 2-wheelers is provided alongside Toilet Blocks, Waiting Lounge, Water Points, Snacks Counter, Rain Shelter & Landscaping.
The crowning glory is the world-class Interpretation Centre, spread across eight acres. Developed as a new-age museum, the Interpretation Centre uses different means of communication to aid and stimulate the discovery process while enhancing the visitor’s intellectual and emotional connect to the site.
The Interpretation Centre has been designed to be user-friendly and interactive, with multiple exhibits and multimedia displays. Boasting five galleries depicting the history, culture and architecture of Odisha, the Interpretation Centre also features galleries dedicated to the many Sun temples in India and across the world.
Touch-screen kiosks and multimedia depictions, together with sculptures, scale models and artefacts in the five galleries make for fabulous viewing.