The tourist season in Odisha kicked off with a vibrant array of events orchestrated by the Department of Tourism. On December 1, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the 13th International Sand Art Festival and the 34th edition of the Konark Festival, both flagship events of the Department of Tourism, in collaboration with Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi and Odisha Tourism Development Corporation.
In a video message, the Chief Minister welcomed everyone to the picturesque open-air auditorium nestled within the grounds of the 13th-century UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sun Temple. Against the stunning backdrop of this architectural marvel, attendees are treated to a cultural extravaganza, featuring Odissi and other Indian classical dance performances by acclaimed artists from India and around the world.
The inaugural show showcased an Odissi performance by Soor Mandir – Jyotsnarani Sahoo & Group from Cuttack. Their act titled NAAD NINAAD commenced with an invocation to Lord Jagannath and Lord Surya through the Surya Mantra, followed by SARANAM, a dance portraying the act of surrendering to the divine.
Meanwhile, the Chandrabhaga Beach is set to become a canvas for thematic sand art creations by 114 esteemed sand artists, including 6 international artists from countries like Australia, Czech Republic, Russia, Belarus, USA, and Sri Lanka, alongside talents from various Indian states.The 13th International Sand Art Festival 2023 witnessed the presence of Hon’ble Minister Tusharkanti Behera, gracing the occasion. To ensure wider outreach, the dance festival is being live-streamed on Odisha Tourism’s social media platforms from December 1 to 5.
In addition to these cultural extravaganzas, the annual flagship camping event of Odisha Tourism, Eco Retreat, was inaugurated on November 1. This year, the retreats expect a majority of domestic tourists as per the state tourism officials, around 60 per cent of the total footfall. The Eco Retreat spans three months across seven scenic locations. The event has already commenced at Putsil, Daringbadi, Hirakud, and Satkosia, with Bhitarkanika and Sonpur Beach (Ganjam) opening on December 1, followed by the Konark Eco Retreat scheduled for inauguration on December 15.