BHUBANESHWAR: An aesthetically designed interpretation centre with world-class facilities that showcases the unique architectural features of Kalingan era would now welcome tourists at the entry of famous Sun Temple at Konark.

The state-of-the-art tourist facilitation centre having an auditorium with digital audio and visual systems was dedicated to the nation by Union Minister for Petroleum, Natural Gas, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Dharmendra Pradhan at a grand event on Sunday.

Visitors will have an idea about the history of the temple and its exceptional blend of marvellous architecture, heritage and natural beauty at the centre developed by Indian Oil Foundation (IOF) at a cost of Rs 45 crore before they enter the architectural marvel.

Addressing the gathering Pradhan said the Sun temple is Odisha’s pride and the interpretation centre will make the world aware of the architectural marvel. The visitor-friendly facilities and modern amenities that have been developed at the temple complex would attract more tourists in future, he said.

While 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, paved roads, ample streetlights and high-mast towers providing a classy touch to the entire setting.

The IOF has also developed an extensive parking area for tourist vehicles along with a drop-off point, toilet blocks, waiting lounge, water points, snacks counter and rain shelter close to the temple.

Speaking on the occasion UNESCO director Shigeru Aoyagi said that UN agency has been continuously working for preservation of heritage monuments across the world. “The interpretation centre will not only educate the tourists about the rich history of the temple but also throw light on the natural and cultural heritage of Odisha,” he said.

Chairman of Indian Oil Sanjiv Singh the organisation is proud to develop the facility for the protection, preservation and promotion of India’s glorious cultural heritage and its monuments with historical significance.

Developed as a new-age museum, the 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.

With multiple exhibits and multimedia displays, the interpretation centre boasting of five galleries depicts history, culture and architecture of Odisha and features other Sun temples of the world.

Touch-screen kiosks and multimedia depictions with sculptures, scale models and artefacts in the galleries would attract visitors.

The tourists facilitation centre and parking space have been developed in an area of 13-acre and the beautifully carved stone sculptures placed inside the centre have been recreated by noted sculptor Raghunath Mahapatra.

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