Roads of Rhythm
Exploring Konark with Mahindra XUV500
We stare at the road ahead, take a deep breath and embark on a journey full of adventure and stories. Thanks to our Mahindra XUV500, we were assured that our road trip around the unexplored terrain of Odisha was going to be smooth and hassle-free.
We begin the journey by hitting the road on a scenic path to Konark. As we chat away in the comfort of the XUV500, the windows turn into a kaleidoscope of different shades of green thanks to the lush landscape. Before we knew it, we were outside the gates of Konark Natya Mandap where we were greeted by lifesize idols of elephants.
We sat in the serene silence of the cool evening air as we came face to face with the Amphitheatre that hosts the prestigious Konark Dance Festival every year. Sipping on some piping hot tea, we talked to Mr Shibu who’s father Padmashree Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, a teacher, performer, choreographer, mardal player and international artist started the school. Almost teary, he talked about the legacy that his late father had left behind.
A sudden sense of calm took over as we walked around the campus of the school. We came across the silhouette of young gotipua students stretching in the distance as the sun sets behind them and get our cameras out to capture this beautiful moment.
One of the highlights of our stay was refurbishing the stage for the upcoming Konark Dance Festival. Surprisingly, the scorching sun did little to deter our spirits as we carried paint buckets around. Moreover, to keep our energy up, members of the school were always around the corner with a warm smile and hot chai. It is over these endless cups of tea that we learnt about the fascinating history of the ground we walked on. A replica of the Konark Temple, Mr Gangadhar Pradhan renovated the stage 9 times to get every detail correct. Despite the turbulent three decades, the school stands strong today and is home to exceptional dancers who devote their lives to perfecting the art.
After we repainted the stage, the students surprised us by performing the two dance forms the school is known for. Gotipua, which is an intense acrobatic dance form, left us in awe. Kids, some as young as 8 years of age engaged in a spectacular performance as they flew across the stage with ease. The Odissi on the other hand had us smiling with its delicate moments and graceful gestures. Ma, who is an integral part of the school told us that sometimes learning one step can take months. We were blown away, yet again.
Our last evening was bittersweet as we bid goodbye to the place that had left our hearts full. We looked at the stage one last time and journeyed on to our next destination - the craft village of Raghurajpur.