Exploring Odisha: Nabakalebara Festival

Nabakalebara Festival: Re-incarnation of Lord Jagannatha

The state of Odisha is now completely immersed in the festivities of Nabakalebara of Lord Jagannatha, Puri. There is a saying in Odia “Martya mandale deha bahi, debata hoile marai” which means “No one is immortal, including the gods”. The Lord also follows the laws of nature. “Nabakalebara” is the festival of reincarnation of Lord Jagannatha, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan, the beloved deities of every Odia. Every 12-19 years, the old idols are discarded and new ones are made out of logs (Daru in Odia). The soul (Brahma) is then transferred into the new idols by the servitors of the lords. More about the history, rituals involved during the festival are available in public domain and can be accessed at the official website of #Nabakalebara (www.nabakalebara.gov.in).

Official Logo: Nabakalebara Festival
Official Logo: Nabakalebara Festival [4]

Sandart on Nabakalebara
Sandart on Nabakalebara [5]
Tourists from across the world are expected to throng into the small city of Puri to have a glimpse of the Lord. The local administration and government are taking various majors to accommodate the huge tourist inflow. Many would prefer to stay closest to their beloved deities in Puri and some would like to shuttle from nearby towns. Bhubaneswar is convenient for those who want star rated accommodation while staying away from the hustle bustle of Puri. A quick drive by road to Puri can be conveniently converted into an one day excursion.

The Sun Temple, Konark

While the devotees from far off places (out of Odisha as well as International locations) will be planning for a trip based on the Nabakalebara theme, some offbeat travellers can also plan to club it with few sightseeing of the nearby tourist attractions. The effort here is to help such tourists to plan their trips so that they get the best value out of the trip. In this series, let us start with the Sun Temple at Konark [2].

Majestic: The Sun Temple
Majestic: The Sun Temple
The Sun Temple: Symbol of Artistic Excellence
The Sun Temple: Symbol of Artistic Excellence

The Konark temple is dedicated to the Sun god which stands majestically tall near the shores of the Bay of Bengal. The 13th Century Sun Temple which is also called Black Pagoda, was declared a World Heritage site in the year 1986. Built in the shape of a gigantic chariot with elaborately carved stone wheels, pillars and walls; what remains today is the ruins of the temple. The structure received its name Black Pagoda from European sailors for whom it was a major landmark. The original temple was built at the mouth of river Chandrabhaga but the waterline has receded over time. The temple looks like a chariot with twelve exquisitely crafted wheels, pulled by seven horses. The intricate carvings on the walls, pillars and wheels speak volumes about the Kalinga architecture. Apart from the main temple, there are also the dance hall called Nata Mandira and dining hall called Bhoga Mandapa.[1]

Nata Mandira: Hall of Dance
Nata Mandira: Hall of Dance
Putting life into stone: With art
Putting life into stone: With art

Story of the Sun Temple

Local folklore talks about a beautiful story of craftsmanship, love and sacrifice of young Dharmapada. The story goes like this. King Narasimhadeva had hired Bisu Maharana, who was an ace architect to build the temple. Under his leadership, twelve thousand people worked relentlessly to build a temple for the Sun god. The construction work continued for twelve years to finish the construction of the main structure, however they failed to mount the crown. The king ordered to finish the temple in three days or face gallows. During that time, Dharmapada the 12 year son of Bisu Maharana had come to see his father. The chief architect had not seen his son as his wife was pregnant when he left for the construction work as per the king’s order, so he was very happy to see his son. When Dharmapada got to know about the king’s order, he seemed permission to mount the crown. Though nobody believed that a 12year old could do what 1200 master craftsmen couldn’t do, still they allowed him to give it a try. Young Dharmapada succeeded in putting the crown at place to spread the wave  of happiness. On that fateful night, the young boy overheard some artisans who were apprehensive about the fact that the king would be upset to know that a boy succeed in doing what his best artists couldn’t do. So death was indispensable. Upon hearing this, young Dharmapada did the supreme sacrifice to save the lives of 12000 craftsmen. He jumped into the sea from top of the temple that night to save his father and his co-workers. The ultimate sacrifice of young Dharmapada applauded even today.

One just can’t stop the temptation to watch the Sun temple with all its majesty, during sunset. Apart from the natural sunlight, the flood lights bring life back into the ruined structure which stands tall as a witness of the past glory of Odisha and its craftsmen.

Sunset at Konrak
Sunset at Konrak
Sunset at Konark
Sunset at Konark

Other attractions near the Sun Temple

Apart from the sun Temple, tourists can have a stroll on the Sea Beach which is at a distance of 2 miles from the temple. The Romantic Beach has the distinction of being considered as one of the finest beach in the world. Quieter than Puri beach, one shouldn’t miss the sunrise and sunset which is breathtakingly beautiful. The Beach is especially lovely early in the morning, or when it is illuminated during the evenings. Archaelogical Survey of India runs a small museum which has an excellent collection of sculptures from the ruins of the temple. The museum is free for all visitors from 9.00 A.M. to 5.00 P.M. on Saturday to Thursday, except Friday when it remains closed. More details about the nearby attractions can be found at the official website: Konark Temple.

Mighty Sea: Bay of Bengal
Mighty Sea: Bay of Bengal
Mighty Sea: Bay of Bengal
Mighty Sea: Bay of Bengal

How to reach and where to stay

One can reach Konark by road from Bhubaneswar as well as Puri. Single day round trip can be planned from both places from either of the cities. Konark is about 64km and takes about 90minutes by road from Bhubaneswar International Airport. Similarly it takes about 35minutes from Puri to cover the 35km stretch. The marine drive from Bhubaneswar to Konark adds to the joy of driving down the whole route. Accommodation facilities are available in Konark also (including the Resorts by the Odisha Tourism)[3]. One should keep enough time in hand to spend in the temple to understand the glorious past of Odisha and its art & culture.

Acknowledgements

1. Wikipedia

2. Konark Temple Official Website

3. Odisha Tourism

4. Nabakalebara Official Website

5. Sand artist Padmashri Sudarshan Pattnaik

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