Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, inaugurated the world-class Interpretation Centre and tourist facilities at Konark Sun Temple coinciding with the Utkal Divas celebrations in Odisha.
Other dignitaries present on the occasion were Shigeru Aoyagi, Director & UNESCO Representative to India; Adwaita Charan Gadanayak, Director General, National Gallery of Modern Art; Sanjiv Singh, Chairman, Indian Oil; JC Nakra, CMD, Engineers India Ltd., Padma Vibhushan Raghunath Mahapatra; Padma Shri Sudarshan Sahoo; Padma Shri Prabhakar Maharana; and Ranjan Mahapatra, Director (HR), Indian Oil.
Addressing a huge gathering on the occasion, Pradhan complimented The IndianOil Foundation (IOF), a non-profit trust fully funded by Indian Oil Corporation under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, for developing the visitor-friendly infrastructure and associated facilities, including a state-of-the-art Interpretation Centre that showcases the unique architectural features of Konark Sun Temple.
He 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 Raghunath Mahapatra for recreating the sculptural wealth of Konark Sun Temple at the Interpretation Centre for the benefit of both national & international visitors. He further said that the modern amenities that have been developed at the temple complex would attract more tourists in future.
Speaking on the occasion, Shigeru Aoyagi, Director & 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.
Sanjiv Singh, Chairman, Indian Oil, in his welcome address, said that the company is proud to do its bit for the protection, preservation and promotion of Indian’s glorious cultural heritage and its heritage monuments.
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 IndianOil 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. IOF’s pioneering work under the guidance of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas has made a radical improvement to the entire complex. Creatively planned and constructed in close association with Engineers India Limited (EIL), the Tourism Department of Orissa and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), it has evolved into a multi-faceted tourist hub.
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.
Visitors will be left spell-bound with the fusion of sight and sound at the 60-seater auditoriumwith state-of-the art audio-visual and acoustics systems. Here, animated films depicting the origins and history of the Sun Temple at Konark will be stellar attractions. A VIP lounge, a cafeteria, and a welcome lobby with ticket counters will all add to the excitement. All the facilities are covered with CC TV cameras and appropriate fire-fighting facilities ensure safety for all.
A rare fusion of the old and the new will be an exhibit of murals and sculptures by Padma Shree, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan Raghunath Mahapatra,the world-renowned master sculptor of Odisha whose works have graced leading exhibitions in India and abroad. Under his able guidance, the ancient sculptures of India have been recreated by modern artists to give the visitors a truly breath-taking experience.
The IndianOil Foundation, under the able guidance of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, is committed to offering world-class facilities for tourists visiting Konark from India and abroad, all in all making their visit to the Sun Temple a memorable experience.
The IndianOil Foundation is currently developing tourist-friendly infrastructure facilities at five more heritage sites in India. They are the Khajuraho group of temples in Madhya Pradesh, Kolhua near Vaishali in Bihar andKanheri Caves in Maharashtra (both of them being highly acclaimed Buddhist sites), and Bhoganandishwara Temple (Nandi Hills) in Karnataka. Two new projects have been identified, that is, Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan and Dholavira in Gujarat.