In Memory of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan
 The Odissi community mourns the loss of the beloved Guru Gangadhar Pradhan - one of the foremost exponents of Odissi Dance - and the Founder-Director of Konark Natya Mandap and Orissa Dance Academy.    He began his Odissi training at age six as a Gotipua dancer.  After completing his Natya Acharya in Odissi from Utkal Sangeet Mohavidyalaya under able guidance of Guru Pankaj Charan Das, Dr. Minati Mishra and Guru Deb Prasad Das, he received intensive training from Guru Kelu Charan Mohapatra.  He was also a maestro Mardala player.   

A recipient of the State Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1993 and the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1998, the Padmashree award from the President of India in 2008, Guru Gangadhar Pradhan also served as the President of Orissa Satate Sangeet Natak Akademic, and promoted and preserved the classical tradition and culture through the Konark Dance and Music Festival, Dhauli Mahotsav, Kalinga kala Utsav and Odissi Sandhya every year in Orissa.  
Gangadhar Pradhan begins his Odyssey on Odissi
By Barnali Pal in Konark - The Deccan Herald

Kelucharan Mohapatra, the legendary Odissi icon, will always be remembered and revered throughout the world as the guru who took it upon himself to carry Odissi dance to lofty heights.

Gangadhar Pradhan receiving Padma Shri from President Pratibha Patil.Now a frail-looking man with grit and steely determination has vowed likewise to showcase Odissi to the outside world, as well as project and promote Orissa’s rich cultural heritage. He is Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, himself an accomplished Odissi dancer and founder-director of Konark Natya Mandap and Orissa Dance Academy.

Guru Gangadhar Pradhan’s transition from a Gotipua (a dance tradition dating back to 16th century in which young boys dressed up as girls perform) to a musician and Odissi dancer, to a guru came through his numerous performances, choreography both in India and abroad and association with the extraordinary dancing sensations like late Sanjukta Panigrahi.

“My mother-in-law and social worker Sushilavati Swain asked me to start some cultural activity in Konark, so we acquired a piece of land in 1978. Two years later, we built a mud hut and called it the Konark Nata Mandap. Every Sunday we had a meeting and artistes from the nearby areas would come and spend the entire day singing, dancing and playing various musical instruments,” Gangadhar Pradhan says. This created an ambience of culture. The mandap’s activity started in 1980 as a small get-together but soon there was no looking back as it paved the way for the five-day
international Konark Dance and Music Festival, that is held every year in this small town of Orissa.

Besides, the Konark Nata Mandap was re-christened Konark Natya Mandap (KNM). It has undergone several changes over the years. And, it has finally taken the shape of the replica of the world famous Sun Temple.

“The festival started in 1986 on the day of Shivaratri. But the seeds of the festival were sown in my mind when I had gone to the Swedish embassy and saw posters of the Khajuraho Festival there. That’s how the idea of the Konark Dance and Music Festival took shape in my mind,” remarks Pradhan.

In the true sense, it was the harbinger of the contemporary festivals of Odisha. “The main objective of the festival is not merely to provide entertainment but to educate and refine. It aims to harmoniously blend the classical, spiritual, tribal and folk
aspects of the glorious cultural traditions.”

Built through the painstaking efforts of Gangadhar Pradhan, KNM now is a performer’s delight. A replica of the natyashala of the scintillating and stupendous Sun Temple of Konark, it provides the right kind of ambience for artistes, connoisseurs and art lovers from India and abroad.

The KNM serves as a temple of learning. Following the glorious traditions of Guru Kula Parampara, it provides teaching and training in dance, music, yoga and theatre. Classes on Odissi dance, Gotipua dance, mardal, tabla and Odissi music are being conducted on its premises. Experienced gurus and teachers share their experience with students who get the privilege of presenting their skill on the three stages erected on the premises.

That apart, KNM is functioning as an institution of cultural consultancy in the state for the growth and propagation of Odissi, tradition and classical art forms both at national and international levels. The mandap has shouldered a big responsibility of popularising Odissi dance and the sculptural epic Konark has metamorphosed into a living Konark.

Talking about his dream, Gangadhar Pradhan says that something should be happening in KNM throughout the year. “Now there is a festival happening 220 days in a year.” He is confident of achieving his goal by the middle of this decade.

Explaining about Living Konark, he said that people had seen Konark in stone, now they would see the living Konark and the dancing Konark. Once, this dream materialised, there would be a computerised film on Konark that would be screened.

“When I had given wings to my imagination, I had dreamt of the future 1000 years’ history which takes into account the cultural, spiritual and ritualistic aspects. The triangle of Konark-Puri-Bhubaneswar-Chilka will develop tourism as well as culture. What the tourist sees in one place will not be repeated in other places, so he or she will get to see something new each time,” he added.

This Odissi dance guru whose sole aim is to promote Odissi to the outside world has created teachers, students and even about three dozen organisations in the country as well as abroad. Gangadhar Pradhan has the vision and his dreams of cultural integration becoming a reality is only a matter of time. He can do it, for he has 'miles to go,
before he sleeps’. Tennyson would come alive one day to write of Gangadhar’s passion ‘Men may come and men may go, but I go on forever...’


Odissi workshop by Guru Gangadhar Pradhan

Your remembrances may be posted by clicking "comments" below


  1. Anonymous1:26 AM

    This is a great loss for the Odissi fraternity. My heartfelt condolences to Ganga Sir's family... May his soul rest in peace.

    Bidisha Mohanty

  2. Anonymous1:28 AM

    Guru ji achieved the ultimate truth of life, but he left us with a pain full heart.
    May his soul rest in peace, definitely he is with the almighty, who will hence forth be able to see the our beloved guru ji all the while in service to the art.
    It comes as a shocking news for me, i still can't believe this. It was about a 2 -3 months back that i was on cloud nine when i got an envelope of love and affection from guru ji. On a rainy evening when i opened the envelope containing letter from guru ji, and lots and lots of words of encouragement for the collection of dance reviews that i have been doing, i had his autographed review along with so much of memorabilia from him, as i was just going through all, i to my greatest surprise of life found that the weather on such a rainy evening turning into bright and sunny evening, this was a phenomena , i always believe this till date that the envelope from guru ji had so much power to influence even the weather.
    Getting a call from him too was a blessing for me, he spoke out his heart and i am glad to be at the receiving end of it. He continued to encourage me in his voice and those words will always be with me and they will continue to encourage me.
    Guru ji has made my collection of dance review very rich with his contribution. Guru ji had encouraged the idea of an exhibition of the collection, and went ahead to support it , if anything needed, his words are more than anything for me, i deeply feel, the only thing i deserved was touch his feet and seek his blessings.
    His virtues of kindness, and down to earth approach and love and encouragement will live on and on.
    May Guru ji's continue to live till time last's in our heart and through the service of arts.
    Our condolence to family and all.


    Pandithar Sivakumar Perumal and Dr.Lakshmi , Pune

  3. Anonymous1:28 AM

    My heart is ful of gratitude, for what Guruji has teached me and for what he has teached my teacher Durga Bor.
    I was in Orissa Bubaneshwar by the ODA and also on the Konarkfestival in 1998.
    I was heartly treated as a gast by him and by his family and by his friends.
    He was a very creative, artistic and energetic being,
    may his soul rest in peace and light.

    Greetje Hoekstra from Amsterdam Netherlands

  4. Anonymous1:29 AM

    This is hard to believe. A great loss for us.

    rimi nandy

  5. Anonymous1:30 AM

    Respected Odissi dance community,

    Our Guru Shradha family is saddened with the loss of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, such a significant person in the Odissi community. Our sincerest condolences and prayers to the family. May his soul rest in peace.

    With warmest regards,
    Niharika Mohanty (Director), Ratikant Mohapatra (Key Advisor), Sujata Mohapatra (Artistic Director)

  6. Anonymous1:30 AM

    Very hard to believe and digest. I have been fortunate enough to attend Ganga Sir's classes...the man who would never tire is no more but his soul and memories will always remain with us

    We are going to miss him terribly
    Indu Vijay

  7. Anonymous1:31 AM

    I am very upset to hear the news of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan's health.
    I had the great fortune to be introduced to the exquisite Odissi
    dance by Guru Gangadhar Pradhan during my travels to India in 1996. I
    studied at Konark Natya Mandap and the Orissa Dance Academy. I have
    so many beautiful memories from this time. I treasure these
    experiences. I was so inspired by Guru Gangadhar's dedication to
    Odissi, his vision, and and his creation of a vibrant community of
    artists and people working with him. I send my love and prayers for
    his quick recovery and for his family.

    love & light,
    Leigh Evans

  8. Anonymous1:32 AM

    The sudden demise of Ganga Sir is one of the few saddest events of my life. I was extremely fortunate to meet him as recently as in the first week of September in Bhubaneswar.

    This loss is, indeed, an irrepairable loss not only for our entire Odissi Family, but also for Indian Culture and Classical form of Art.

    Ganga Sir was a visionary and a role model for everyone around.

    My deepest condolences to the entire Odissi Fraternity for this very very unfortunate happening.

    May Lord Jagannath give the strength to Ganga Sir's entire family.and all of us to minimise the immense pain.

    Ganga Sir will remain in our heart for ever.

    With warm regards,

  9. Anonymous1:33 AM

    I am shocked to learn about the sudden demise of Guru Gangadhar
    Pradhan. Right now i am in Korea. I wish to call Shibu but feel
    incapable of consoling him through a phone call as it is not just his
    loss, its the loss of the entire dance fraternity. Ganga Sir was a
    source of inspiration for me for his selfless service towards training
    and preservation of the orissan arts especially the Gotipua tradition
    and the Gurukul system of training.
    Kindly convey my condolensces to Shibu who i know must be broken and
    not in a state of mind to take calls. Also, kindly convey to Guru
    Banamali Moharana for whom Ganga Sir was more than a disciple and
    May God give peace to his soul and may all of us safeguard his spirit
    of dedicated work by continuing to do so in our own spheres.

    Parwati Dutta

  10. Anonymous1:34 AM

    Our Humble prayers condoling the great master, in august we had his darshan in Bangalore in madhulitas festival, we pray for our departed art visionary of the country. Let his soul rest in peace. Hari om, om sai ram, om om om shanti shanti shanti.

    Sai Venkatesh and all dancers of Karnataka.

  11. Anonymous1:35 AM

    Our heart felt condolences .. A great great loss for Odissi ...

    Swapnokalpa Dasgupta

  12. Anonymous1:35 AM

    Rest in peace!

    I'm devastated to hear the sad news. With a heavy heart we all have to come to terms with this great loss that can never be replaced. Guruji was an institution, he was The Legacy, what a sad moment for all of us. I feel like we in the fraternity have lost a father figure .......Words seem inadequate to express the sadness I feel.

    Pray to God to rest Guruji's soul in peace. Pray that his legacy continues and he continues to live through the thousands of students, his followers and his teachings through all of us. I would like to quote something I read a while back and it has stuck with me.

    This is for your Guruji .....

    "He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man"...........

    My deepest condolences to the grieving family. Our thoughts are with them. May the Lord give them the strength to brave these tiring times.


    Anindita Nanda
    SoorTaal, Danbury CT

  13. Anonymous1:36 AM

    Dear Shibu Bhai,

    Please accept our condolences.
    Guruji will Always be living in our hearts.My deepest sympathy to you and your family.The angels are always near to those who are grieving, to whisper to them that their loved ones are safe in the hand of God.

    Members of Kalajyoti.

    Monalisa Ghosh

  14. Anonymous1:36 AM

    To the Dancer Community:
    Ganga Sir's passing is a great loss to the whole dancer community, especially to the Odissi dancers. I was fortunate to have him play the pakhavaj for me and I will never forget the magic he could create on stage. Without doubt, he was a visionary and when he spoke about his dreams for Konarak his excitement was catching. My dancers and I at Nrityalaya will miss him terribly. Our heartfelt condolences to the family.


    Chitra Krishnamurti

  15. Anonymous1:37 AM

    We are going to miss a Great man of our time .His contribution to the Arts was colossal. May his vision be continued .
    My heart felt pronam to Guruji . I will miss him very much .

    All the Best to his family ....

    Mitali Dev of UK.

  16. Anonymous1:37 AM

    A huge loss for the Odissi world. But he leaves behind a rich creative legacy.
    My hearts goes out to Guruji's family.

    ~ Shreelina Ghosh

  17. Anonymous11:34 PM

    Remembering Ganga Bhai......

    For the Srjan Family a time of mourning. In the untimely death of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, we have lost a valued associate in dance. From the time he lived with us in our Cuttack residence as a disciple of Guruji, his association with Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and Srjan, has endured many ups & downs in his life in Art. We have rejoiced in his many successes, and even in this hour of grief, we will be heartened that his exemplary life and his herculean labours that have benefitted so many practitioners of Odissi dance.

    Both as a performer & teacher, his unending toil to constantly improve upon his best efforts, has inspired many over the years. At a personal level we will always remember his worthwhile contribution as a member of the Srjan jury which has selected the awardees for the Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award for the last 10 years.

    Guru Gangadhar Pradhan lived for Odissi. And his life’s work, his many successes demonstrates that he was indeed worthy of his grand obsession - Odissi.

    Ratikant Mohapatra

    & Srjan family

  18. When I watch these videos I just want to cry because his loss is not just personal, but universal. If it weren't for Guruji, I would never be able to teach at Cornell. He instilled the basics in me inspite of my years of study before I began with him. He was a generous soul, and totally dedicated to his art. He breathed life back into the institution of Gotipua and brought so much to the dance world. I can't even imagine going back to Bhubaneswar and Konarak and not having him there. I am truly grieved, but I'm sure that his wonderfully trained disciples will continue on in his name and keep his legacy alive.

  19. Anonymous1:06 AM

    sincere condolences

    It is very saddening to hear about Guru Gangadhar Pradhan's untimely demise. My
    sincere condolences to all his family members. He will be remembered by many.

    Barbara Curda

  20. Anonymous1:11 AM

    We all remain shocked to hear of the sudden and untimely demise of a beloved member of our Odissi community.
    Gangadhar-ji was not only a great teacher and dancer and mardala player, but such an avid proponent of Odissi. Always smiling, helpful and truly humble I used to enjoy meeting with him privately whenever i visited Bhubaneshwar to work with my guru Durga Charan Ranbir.
    I sympathize particularly with his family and of course all his students who must be bereft.
    What a loss - so unexpected and while he as so young, too.


  21. Anonymous1:17 AM

    Guru Gangadhar Pradhan's death is really a unfulfillable loss of Odissi world. A man like him will never be found and born.
    He had come from a very common family with a less education , but proved himself as an extraordinary human being .He had such talent to do anything .Impossible word was never found in his dictionary. But God's desire was something else.
    His dreams were unlimited and those remained unfulfilled.
    Let's salute to the great soul, the great son of Utkal Janani.
    Namaste ! Namaste !! Namaste !!!

    Jagabandhu Jena

  22. Anonymous1:17 AM

    I am shocked and speechless at this news. His contribution to Odissi, the field of Indian dance and to Orissa is enormous. I had the pleasure of meeting him in Konark when I was working in Raghurajpur and he had expressed an interest in visiting the US with his troupe.

    His work will continue to inspire us and the future generations. May his soul rest in piece.

    I offer our heartfelt condolences to Ganga sir's family, students and all his admirers on behalf of the New York city dance community and the Erasing Borders festival team.

    Deepest condolences

    Prachi Dalal

  23. Anonymous5:46 PM

    Dear All,

    Just received the following posting from Bijayini Satapathy from Nrityagram.
    As I have been doing with all such postings, I am sharing her feelings for Gangadhar Guruji with you all.


    --- On Sun, 17/10/10, Bijayini Satpathy wrote:
    From: Bijayini Satpathy
    Subject: Guru gangadhar Pradhan
    To: "Shyamhari Chakra"
    Date: Sunday, 17 October, 2010, 4:09 AM

    Dear Shyam Bhai,


    I thought you appropriate to send the following to so that you can reach it across to all grieving the untimely tragic loss of Ganga Sir.

    "There are few moments in my life that I feel blessed for, where I have been in the right place at the right time. In other words I have been chosen to be a part of the greater universal plan. One such moment was my initiation into Orissa Dance Academy in 1980, then headed by Ganga Sir. As I look at more and more dancers today, my belief gets only stronger that most of the better dancers today come from his lineage.

    Even though I was never directly taught by Sir, it is his sense of a strong foundation in technique is what I received through all the amazing teachers he entrusted us with. I am ever so grateful to him for the clarity with which he lead his team of teachers.

    I remember when I had to leave for Nrityagram to join the ensemble on their first tour to USA in 1993, he sat me down to give me pearls of advice that have become my self-discipline. I was to dance with the ensemble temporarily and return after the tour. He felt proud that one of his dancers was the one to be chosen by Gaurima as well as the greater responsibility that I be a worthy representative of his philosophy. He said, " Maa, go to class well before time and completely prepared." He took it for granted that a dancer must come prepared with dance lessons already taught. He emphasized, " always bring your water bottle to class and a few biscuits. You never know when the class will finish. You must have the mental strength to go through till the end and not disturb the flow of rehearsal. Take a break only when given." There is not a single day till now that I have broken this ritual and I have only gained tremendously from this practice.

    As a young student I saw him angry, very angry and frustrated all the time. He played the mardala for rehearsals and often broke into long speeches regarding self-motivation, hardwork and loyalty. I was scared to see him in our class and dreaded rehearsals with him. I do not remember him ever satisfied or happy. My chioce to move to Nrityagram hurt him deeply and I believe he held it close to his heart forever. His pain over it was so intense that he perhaps never saw the grains of his teaching in my dance. He never came to my performances till the international festival in Malaysia. However, I believe that our differences resolved when one day after my performance in Bhubaneswar he called to say, "Maa, even though I didn't see you dance, I feel proud with what the fifty eyes that saw you had to say. Carry on your work." I had been troubled that he had not forgiven me. May be I didn't recognise the bigness of his heart. That day I let it go.

    I believe Odissi is young and still growing to fulfill and complete its identity. The work of Ganga Sir has certainly influenced the course of this evolution significantly and will continue to do so till his philosophy is passed on through the blessed ones that were there in the right place at the right time as me.

    Bijayini Satpathy

  24. Anonymous10:33 PM

    Aurosmita Acharya wrote:

    I am grieved on the demise of Guru Sri Gangadhar Pradhan, which is
    yet hard to believe as I had met him recently. Though I have never
    been a disciple to him (rather I belong to the Dev Prasad Das gharana)
    but have always seen his owness, had his selfless guidance after every
    performance of mine in the recent past. I have very little but heart
    warming memories of him. After almost every performance of mine he had
    this sweet gesture of coming up to me and critically giving me the
    positive as well as the negative elements in the performance. He told:
    "Maa you could have done this sort of a posture (and he immediately
    showed me the posture), you could have been a bit fast in a particular
    footwork to enhance its charm..." ; its inexpressible of how these
    small nuances of his had a guiding impact and working on those lines
    helped me a lot for my next performance. What's more important is, he
    marked those minute changes in performances and pointed me out 'see
    how beautiful now it looks!!' followed by another guiding point for my
    upcoming performance. He was a well wisher, a Guru, who often guided
    me. I pray that his soul rest in peace and his guidlines will always
    be cherished in my heart.


  25. Anonymous7:37 PM

    Anindita Anu Nanda wrote:

    With a heavy heart we all have to come to terms with this great loss that can never be replaced. Guruji was an institution, he was The Legacy, what a sad moment for all of us. I feel like we in the fraternity have lost a father figure. Words seem inadequate to express the sadness I feel.

    Pray to God to rest Guruji's soul in peace. Pray that his legacy continues and he continues to live through the thousands of students, his followers and his teachings through all of us.

    I would like to quote something I read a while back and it has stuck with me.

    This is for your Guruji .....
    "He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man"...........

    Kind regards and gratitude

    Anindita Anu Nanda
    CT, USA

  26. Anonymous7:43 PM

    Dear artistes & art lovers,

    All of you must be aware of the sad demise of our beloved Guru Shree gangadhar Pradhan. As a tribute to his unforgetable memories, the Orissa Dance Academy and the artiste community of Bhubaneswar are organising SHRADHANJALI - an evening dedicated to the life of the revered Guru on 6th November, 2010 (6.30 pm) at Rabindra Mandap, Bhubaneswar.
    Thus, we request the well wishers of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan to kindly send us a message which will be published in the booklet/souvenir.
    Since a short film on Guruji's life will be shown on that day, we should be grateful if an audio-visual byte of yours can be sent to us. Which we will incorporate in the film.
    Awaiting to your early response.

    ODA Family

    Qr. No. 4R-8, Unit - 8, Bhubaneswar -12
    Orissa, India,


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