Gangadhar Pradhan

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Guru Gangadhar Pradhan
Born (1948-07-10)10 July 1948
Parikula, Brahmagiri Orissa
Died 10 October 2010(2010-10-10) (aged 62)
Occupation Classical Dancer, Actor, Mardal Player, Choreographer, Festival Organiser
Religion Hinduism
Spouse(s) Sulochana Pradhan
Parent(s) Muralidhara Pradhan
Dutika Pradhan
Awards Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Padma Shri, Doctorate

Gangadhar Pradhan (10 July 1948 – 10 October 2010) was an eminent Odissi (Orissi) exponent and teacher, who also founded the Konark Natya Mandap in Konark Puri in 1986 and organised several dance festivals in the temple city during his lifetime.[1] Born on July 10, 1948 in a village called Parikula (off Brahmagiri) in eastern India's Orissa, he died in the state capital of Bhubaneswar on October 11, 2010, and had several leading dancer-disciples besides top national and international honours to his credit.

Early life and background[edit]

Gangadhar was born on 10 July 1948. An auspicious day for the humble farmer couple, Muralidahr Pradhan & Dwitika Devi, of Parikul, a remote village of Puri, Orissa. Though their third son was born on this day, he neither cried nor moved, making an impression that he was a stillborn. Immediately, the father vowed that if the child survives, he will send the boy to serve their worshipping deity Lord Balunkeshwar, for 5 years. The child survives and grows up into a highly mischievous kid. At the age of 3 while travelling in a bullock cart, the boy fell down and was injured severely. The poor farmer father again vows before the lord to send the boy for 10 years instead of 5, as vowed previously.Miraculously, the boy escapes death for a second time. To fulfill the vows the boy was sent to serve the Lord Balunkeshwar when he was little over five. After that for a long 10 years, the boy remained in temple and served Lord Shiva as a devotee. There the boys were taught to do their own chores, help and obey the seniors, look after the harvest, study and take lessons of dance as a Gotipua dancer. In this dance form, boys dress up like girls to perform. The boy was very fair in colour and with handsome features and he was allowed to grow his hair like girls. He was a quick learner and reproduced his lessions neatly to the entire satisfaction of his teachers. His quest for learning was immense. Though only senior boys were allowed to learn Mardal, a musical instrument, this young boy, sneaked out opportunities to play Mardal, when the seniors worked at the paddy fields.
The family and teachers of the boy saw promise of a greater personality in him. Thereby they advised him to go out into the broader world to seek his fortune instead ofbeing engaged in the family profession of agriculture. Thus, in July, 1966 the boy arrived in Bhubaneswar and there he took admission into Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya. He is none other than Guru Sri Gangadhar Pradhan. His entrance to college was based on sheer determination to succeed and his ever unfailing courage. He was inspired, motivated and patronised by Pandit Chandrasekhar Pattnaik, landlord of Dimirisena. He also drew courage and strength from Singhari Shyamsundar Kar, his Mardal Guru, Odissi dance from Guru Pankaj Charan Das, Guru Debaprasad Das and Dr. Minati Mishra. Life at college was far from being easy. Students never got their stipends regularly and even that was barely enough to cover all expenses. Financial support from family was ruled out as most of them were poor and others saw dance and music as a loathsome profession. Thus, they had to both study and earn their keep side by side. Our village lad from Parikul, was serious, obedient and hardworking. He laboured for hours to make himself prominent among other students. His additional talent as a Mardal player made his teachers depend on him in absence of an accompanist. Parents of girl students started inviting him for accompanying their daughters for practice. Gradually he started teaching students privately. While he was in 3rd year, he got an opportunity to play Mardal for the noted dancer Rita Devi and went to Bombay. From there, he started participating in many programmes. He won 1st prize in all Orissa Dance Competition held at Puri. Then came opportunities, in form of Oriya film producers, opera proprietors, theatre managers, who wanted him to direct dance sequences in their plays and films.He finally completed his Nrityacharya degree course in 1971.
He received the National Scholarship from Govt. from 1971 to 73. He received national scholarship under Padmabibhusan Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. He got extensive training theory from Dhirendranath Pattnaik. Guru Sri Pradhan was married to Smt. Sulochana Pradhan in 1972. By the time he had passed out of college he had already established himself among the art lovers of Bhubaneswar. After getting the scholarship he took further two years training in Odissi dance and trained himself in mastering the Mardal. By this he was actively associated with many organisations like Bhubaneswar Kalakendra, Sangeeta of Jatni, Chilika Sangeet Parishad, Balugaon, etc. He directed and choreographed many dance items while directing the annual day events of numerous girls' schools, boys schools, women's colleges, etc. He got involved in Ekamra theatres from the year 1969. It was then that he found a great patron within Kamala Lochana Mohanty of Ekamra theatres. From 79-96 he visited various places of world with Padmashree Late Sanjukta Panigrahi to continues10 years like Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, France, Italy, South America, America, Bangladesh, Israel, Nigeria, Benin, Ivory Coast, Portugal, Spain, Holland. After his marriage too, he never oriented himself in earning money for the better life of his family. The sole dream that he always had was to start a dance school to realise his unique vision. In 1973 he started an organisation called 'Natyaloka', drawing help and inspiration from Pt. Raghunath Panigrahi, Late Smt Sanjukta Panigrahi, etc. then the name was changed to 'Sunati'. Finally in 1975, 'Orissa Dance Academy, the dream concept, the brain child of Gwere conducted in the verandah of Sri Rajkumar and Manorama Padhi, in the quarters of Sri Rabindranath Pattnaik & in the verandah of Dr. Belarani Dutta. The students and dancers at that time were, Krushnapriya Pattjoshi, Saratpriya Pattjoshi, Susmita Mitra, Dipti Sahoo, Digbala Sahoo, Aruna Mohanty, Archana Mohanty, Annapurna Panda, Jaba Dey, Ananya Das, etc. From 1975, Orissa Dance Academy started functioning, unofficially without registration. There were almost 35 students and classes were held thrice a week. For space, he requested Mr. B.K. Kanungo, an eminent journalist, through whose intervention classes were shifted to the Sambadika Bhawan, which belonged to the Journalist Association. His well wishers who provided him with their support and strength were Late Guru Pankaj Charan Das, Guru Banamali Moharana, Guru Ghanshyam Panda, Guru Dayanidhi Behera, Late Debaprasad Mohanty, Nabakishore Pattjoshi, Kamala Lochan Mohanty, Pradosh Ku, Pattnaik, Gyanadaprasad Mishra, Bhagwan Behera, Dr. Belarani Dutta, Smt. Manorama Padhi. His patrons from abroad were Pramod & Chitralekha Pattnaik (Canada), Eugenio Barba (Denmark), Debi and Sarojini Mishra (USA), Santosh and Sulekha Das (USA) Purna and Gopa Pattnaik (USA), Nilambar and Annapurna Biswal (USA), Sadananda Benegal (Canada), Dr. Bijay Dash (U.S.A.), Somadutta Behera, Gopal Mohapatra, Kirtan Behera, Amar Mukherjee (Canada), Bhupati Ray Bata (Canada), Pratap Das (U.S.A.), J. P. Dash, (Bhubaneswar), Sneha Parija (Bhubaneswar), Sri Gopal Mohapatra (U.S.A.), Srigopal Mohanty and Shanti Mohanty (Canada), Dr. Saroj Behera, Isha Bandopadhyaya etc. The budget was meagre. The money earned from programmes and tution fees uru Gangadhar Pradhan was born. Initially classes was not sufficient enough, to made the expenses. Guru Gangadhar Pradhan started neglecting his family, his comfort, his health. He had just one goal, to establish a dance institution, based his dream concept. Mr. Dhiren Pattnaik, Secretary of Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi, extended a helping hand. Orissa Dance Academy was formally registered with Mr. Pattnaik as the President, Mr. Bhabani Biswal as the Secretary, Guruji as the Principal and rest of the senior students and musicians as members. In 1978, the golden era of Orissa Dance Academy began with Guru Gangadhar Pradhan and Aruna Mohanty participating in the India festival held in Germany and Belgium. In 1980, students of Orissa Dance Academy, Dipti Sahoo, Saratpriya Pattajoshi, Pagala Swain, Nandita Patnaik and Aruna Mohanty were sent on a cultural delegation by ICCR with Mr. Dhiren Pattnaik as the team manager to Portugal, Spain, Holland and Italy. By this time many talented students of Orissa Dance Academy like Minakshi Behera, Chapala Mishra, Mamata Nayak had started performing. Though it went smooth sailing for sometime, the Sambadika Bhawan had to be abandoned as the journalist association did not want Orissa Dance Academy in their hall. After much trouble finally the Academy was relocated in a rental house in 78, Kharavela Nagar, Bhubaneswar. From 1980 to now, this small bud has blossomed into a flower, enchanting the environment with its fragrance. The academy is now one of the premier cultural institutions of India. It has about 300 students and a strong performing unit of about 30 competent dancers. The students of this academy, under the able guidance of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, continue to give performances both inside India and abroad. They have travelled to Germany, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Canada, Italy, England, USA, North Korea, South Africa etc. Currently the student contigent of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan includes many established artists like Kanduri Charan Behera, Mukti Ghosh, Kasturi Pattnaik, Bichitrananda Swain, Meera Dash, Manoranjan Pradhan, Ramesh Chandra Jena, Bijaya Kumar Dash, Ellora Patnaik (Canada), Debraj Pattnaik, (Canada), Anita Babu, Madusmita Mohanty, Lingaraj Swain, Sheela Mohapatra, Rojalin Mohapatra, Judhisthir Nayak, Pabitra Kumar Pradhan, Lipsa Dash, Y. Asha Kumari, Bijay Kumar Sahoo, Lingaraj Pradhan, Sridutta Bhol, Amulya Ku. Balabantaray, Leema Bhol, Laboni, Shibani and Shalini Pattnaik of USA, Sarba Das of USA, Sonali Mishra of USA, Tanya Raha and Malini Guha of Canada, Bharati Devi Giri of Holland, Alexandria Zardine of France, Sachiko Murakawi and Yumiko Masui of Japan. Today it acts as an umbrella organisation for about 33 other cultural organisations both inside India and abroad. There are some institutions like Chitralekha Dance Academy Toronto, (Canada) Centre for World Music San Diego (USA), an institution in Amsterdam- Holland, Sangeeta Nritya Academy-Assam, Purva-Baroda, etc. who are closely associated with Orissa Dance Academy. Apart from composing new choreographies, dance dramas and ballets on Odissi style, folk dance forms of the region are also composed here. Innumerable performances by the repertoire of the Academy has regaled the national and international audience, stretching from remote villages of Orissa to glamourous capital cities of the world. Under the unfaltering courage of Guru Sri Pradhan, so far the sanctity & purity of Odissi has been preserved and perfected in this Academy. Guru Gangadhar Pradhan created history in Orissa when he established Konark Natya Mandap, in 1986. Representing the glorious "Gurukula Parampara" of India, this unique venue has become the sanctum sanctorum of Orissan art and culture. It works as the right hand of Orissa Dance Academy. Built by the painsta king efforts of Guru Sri Pradhan, nestled among the sylvan set up of Arkavihar with the glorious Sun Temple nearby, the Konark Natya Mandap is a performer's delight. Everyday, classes on Gotipua, Odissi dance, Mardal, Tabla, Odissi vocal, etc. are being conducted in its premises. There are three stages, on which the students get the privilege to present their skill and talent. Besides, some premitive art forms like Sankirtan, Paika akhada, Pala, Daskathia, Ramalila, etc. are also being performed on different occasions like Basant Panchami, Jhulan Purnima, etc. To promote and propagate this vast treasure trove of Orissan art and culture, Chandrasekhar Kala Mandir was established in year 1992, at Parikul, Puri. It was an expression of gratitude to his parental village. Amidst the serenity of the green countryside, with the beautiful Chilika Lake nearby, training is imparted in both Odissi and Gotipua facilities to students. It was a sort of cultural revolution that Guru Sri Pradhan brought about, when he started the trend of cultural festivals in Orissa, set on the lines of the famous Khajuraho Dance Festival. The Konark Dance and Music Festival took birth in 1986, at Arkavihar, Konark. From then onwards it has become an International fete, which forms a platform for dancers, musicians, artists, scholars from every corner of the globe. It is held every year from 19th - 23 February. The Kalinga Kala Utsav began from the inception of the Chandrasekhar KalaMandir, Parikul, Puri about 11 years ago. It is held every year in April. As the 3rd part of his trilogy Guru Sri Pradhan has acquired a plot of land, near Dhauligiri, Bhubaneswar. It has been termed as Shantivihar. The 1st Dhauli Mahotsavas held this year from 27 to 29 March. For this untiring effort towards promotion of culture he has been awarded the State Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. The nation too, honoured his endeavour by giving him the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, by the President. Also he has received many awards, honours and felicitations from many reputed organisations of state, country and many foreign countries. At this age of 55, Guru Gangadhar Pradhan still has so many unfinished dreams. He, who is the living portrait of Orissan art and culture, has dreamt of uniting the society by social, cultural and spiritual transformation through art, culture and tradition. He aims at establishing a cultural triangle with Konark Natya Mandap, Arkavihar, Konark, Chandrasekhar Kalamandir, Chilika vihar, Parikul and Shantivihar, Dhauli giri, at its three corners. If Konark Natya Mandap is the right hand of Orissa Dance Academy, then Chandrasekhar kala Mandir is the left hand upholding the rich cultural heritage. The academy has been moving ahead with its noble and dynamic mission to embrace everybody under the sun, to build world wide cultural amity and harmony. Creation of the Universal Cultural family, by creating and intensifying the devotional attitude to the art, since it is the final tribute to the almighty, to the nature. This is the ultimate dream, the ultimate concept of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan. all his other achievements are just stepping stones in this direction.

His Mission[edit]

His Dreams Unlimited………..

An honest confession: I am not too much of a thinker. I am a dreamer. The process of thinking creates too many barriers. The conscious mind comprises; it gives up soon. That is why, I feel, rational and realistic people are not big achievers. They are simply worldly-wise. They do not do justice to their abilities. For, they are not aware of the propelling power of an unfilled dream.

Dreams do not draw sustenance and strength from ground realities. As a dreamer, I am constantly on the move; in the realm of surrealism I am neither worldly nor wise. I may not have achieved much in tangible terms; but I love chasing the dreams, that are unlimited.

Espousing the cause of Orissa art, when I had unfolded the huge canvas of my plans, people thought I was crazy. But today, blissfully, there are so many with me to share my vision – my dreamscape. They not only share my dreams but also strive to shape them into reality. Tilled, watered and manured, the seeds sown in my dreamscape have sprouted into healthy saplings. Nourished and nurtured, soon there will be efflorescence all round. And of course, fruition of my dreams is not far off.

Tomorrow, when this old bloke is dead and gone, there will be thousands of Gangadhar Pradhans to replicate his dreams of preserving and propagating the Orissan art across the seven seas. And this blessed soul will shed tears of joy from above, remaining indebted to Lord Jagannath for daring him to dream.

Guru Gangadhar Pradhan

Gurus under whom Gangadhar trained[edit]




Awards and honours[edit]

Guruji was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1998[2] and the Padma Shri (Indian's fourth highest civilian award) in 2008.[3]

Guruji has been conferred upon several prestigious honour and awards for his outstanding contribution in the field of culture. Notable among them are State Sangeet Natak Akademi award, Central Sangeet Natak Award’ 1997 and many honours from abroad like the International School of Theatre, Denmark, Canada, U.S.A. etc. which has added many feathers to his cap. He ahs also been awarded with Sanjukta Panigrahi National Award on 25thAugust,2002 and Sanskruti Bharatee Award from National Council of Asian Indian Association on 26 September 2002 in John F.Kenedy Centre for performing arts, Washington D.C., US.A. Guru Sri Pradhan is the first person from the field of Orissan art and culture who has been awarded the prestigious assignment of teaching at Cornell, the leading American University as a faculty member. He was also the President of Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi for the period from 2006-07. He has been conferred the “Padmashree” by the Govt. of India in 2008. To his credit he has received numerous prestigious awards and honours from different organizations of the country and abroad which can not be mentioned in a page or two.

  • 1. Awarded first prize in Odissi Dance Comptetion organized by Odissi Bikasha Pratisthana in 1969
  • 2. Felicitated by Museumsassm of India, 1985
  • 3. Title of Honorary Citizenship from the Mayor, City of Baltimore in 1988
  • 4. Chilika Ratna by Brahmagiri Yubajyoti Sahitya Sansad in 1990
  • 5. Title of Honorary citizenship from the Mayor of the City of Memphis in 1990
  • 6. Awarded by Shruti, the India Music & Dance Society in 1990
  • 7. Appreciate by Muziekschool of Amsterdam in 1991
  • 8. State Sangeet Natak Akademi Award – 1993
  • 9. Felicitated by Dramatic Club, Utkal University in 1995
  • 10. Felicitated by Kalinga Sanskrutika Anusthan in 1995
  • 11. Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1997
  • 12. Recognized for outstanding contribution by Orissa Society of America,New jersey Chapter in 1998
  • 13. Felicitated by Manomanini in 1998
  • 14. Ovation by Sookruti, Bhubaneswar in 1998
  • 15. Felicitated by Parampara, Raghuraj Pur in 1999
  • 16. Ganakabi Sambardhana – 1999
  • 17. Felicitated by Akhanda Puri Zilla palla Gayaka Parishada in 1999
  • 18. Felicitated by OSA Canadian Chapter in 1999
  • 19. Felicitated by Balunkeshwar Mahadeb Yajna Committee
  • 20. Awarded by Shree Nilachala Nikhilotkala Pala Gayaka Parishad in 2000
  • 21. Nimain Samman by Natua, Nimapara in 2000
  • 22. Felicitated by Utkal Pathak Samsad – 2000
  • 23. Nrutya Chudamani by Bharata Sevashram Sangha, Puri in 2001
  • 24. Felicitated by Badasankha Yuba Sanskrutika Parishada, Puri in 2001
  • 25. Nrutya Pratibha Samman – 2001
  • 26. 1st Basanta Mahotsava Sammana -2001
  • 27. Padma Keshari Award, 2001 by Chinta ‘O’ Chetna, Bhubaneswar
  • 28. Bishesh Samman by Sulekha Sahitya Sanskruti Parishad -2002
  • 29. State Level Sadbhabana Award in 2002 Rajiv Gandhi
  • 30. Sanjukta Panigrahi National Award – 2002
  • 31. Sanskrooti Bharati Award by National Council of Asian India Association,
  • 32. USA in the year 2002
  • 33. Parala Nrutya Utsav Samman by Gajapati Natya Mandap
  • 34. Felicitated by Lions Club, Cuttack Diamond
  • 35. Felicitated by Chinmayee Classic, Bhubaneswar
  • 36. Felicitated by Janajivana Sahitya Sansad
  • 37. Pride of India in 2003 by Asha Memorial Trust
  • 38. Honoured by Dakshina Odisha Sahitya Sammelan in 2003
  • 39. Guru Pratibha Sanskruti Samman – 2003 by Niramana Paribara
  • 40. Certificate of Apreciation from the Mayor of Tulsa 2003
  • 41. Nataraj Samman – 2004 by Denkhnal Sambadik Sangha
  • 42. Desharatna Samman by Bharati Foundation Trust – 2004
  • 43. Felicitated by Soor Singar Sansad, 2004
  • 44. Felicitated by Sangeeta Kala Niketana, Brahmapur in 2004
  • 45. Honoured by MI OSA, 2005
  • 46. Bibiddha Barna Cultural Award – 2005
  • 47. Nrutyamani Award - 2005
  • 48. Certificate of Appreciation by Bharatiya Temple and Cultural Centre, USA in 2005
  • 49. Music Achievement Award by OSA Southwest Chapter in 2005
  • 50. Honoured by Shree Jagannath Mandir Trust, Puri, 2005
  • 51. Felicitated by Aum Art Dance Academy, Baroda in 2005
  • 52. Gundicha Samman – 2005
  • 53. Certificate of Appreciation from SIGN, Europe in 2005
  • 54. Felicitated by Indian Cultural Association of Burmingham in 2005
  • 55. Felicitated by Satyabadi Sangeeta Mohavidyalaya, Sakshigopal in 2006
  • 56. Mayadhar Mansingh Centenary Award, 2006
  • 57. Honoured by Institute of Engineers in 2006
  • 58. Shishu Bharati Samman-2006 by Shishu Bharati, Gop, Puri
  • 59. Udra Pankaj Samman – 2006
  • 60. Salimar Omptwa -2006 Award
  • 61. Felicitated by Jagannatha Lalita Kala Parishada, 2006
  • 62. Pratibha Samman – 2006 by Awahan
  • 63. Felicitated by Ramachandra Kalpana Mahavidyalaya through Pratibha Anweshan -2006
  • 64. Felicitated in Orissa Festival -2006 in Delhi Haat
  • 65. Honoured by Nrutyanjali, Rourkela in 2007
  • 66. Rajdhani Gaurab Samman – 2007
  • 67. Sanskruti Pratibha Samman – 2008 by Sanskruti, Talcher
  • 68. Kalu Nanda Memorial Award, BBSR – 2008
  • 69. Krupajal Samman, BBSR - 2008
  • 70. Ghungur Samman, BBSR -2008
  • 71. Aame Odiya Samman, I & PR Dept. Orissa – 2008 ( Delhi Hat )
  • 72. Chira Sandhhan Samman, – 2008
  • 73. Padmashree, Govt. of India - 2008
  • 74. Basanta Utasav, Music Circle, Rourkela – 2009
  • 75. Gurupranam, Swami Dayananda Service Mission, BBSR – 2009
  • 76. Srividya Samman, Agragami Odissi Nrutya Pratisthan – 2009
  • 77. Dhara Sriradha Samman, Dhara Sriradha, BBSR – 2009
  • 78. Banichitra Samman (Lifitime Achievement), Banichitra, BBSR
  • 79. Doctorate from Utkal University, Odisha in 2010

Positions Held[edit]

  • ➢ National Scholarship from Deptt. Of Culture, Govt. of Inda for higher training and research in Odissi Dance
  • ➢ Member, General Council, Sangeet Natak Akademi
  • ➢ Member- Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre
  • ➢ Founder-Director – Orissa Dance Academy
  • ➢ Founder-Director – Konark Natya Mandap
  • ➢ Founder- President Anchalika Chandrasekhara Kala Sansada
  • ➢ Founder Member – Nimapara Mahotsav
  • ➢ President - Basanta Utsava, Raghuraj Pur
  • ➢ President – Utkala Atma
  • ➢ President – State Sangeet NatakAkademi – 2006-07
  • ➢ President - Rotary Club, Konark
  • ➢ Jury Member – Guru Kelu Charan Mahapatra Award Committee
  • ➢ Advisor – Bibiddhabarna
  • ➢ Senioar Fellowship from the Ministry of HRD, Govt of India
  • ➢ Chief Advisor – Dibakara Sangeeta Kala Niketan
  • ➢ Founder-Director – Bhauri Utsav - 2006
  • ➢ Jury Member – Konark Dance Festival, Shreekshetra Utsav & Ekamra Utsav
  • ➢ Guest Professor at Utkal University of Culture – 2006
  • ➢ Dance Teacher at Odissi Research Centre
  • ➢ Visiting Professor at Cornell University in 2003
  • ➢ Guest lecturer at World Music School, Holland
  • ➢ Member, Selection Board of the Pension to Artistes, Orissa


  1. ^ "World News Headlines". Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar (Akademi Awards)". Sangeet Natak Akademi. Retrieved 21 April 2010. 
  3. ^ "Padmashri Awardees list". Government of India. Retrieved 21 April 2010.