This no-name lighthouse in a small Indian beach town withstood two of the biggest cyclones in recent memory, and it continues to stand silently on one of the quietest beaches in the world.
The small town of Gopalpur used to be an ancient port which fell into ruin, but regained its importance to maritime trade during British colonial rule. Today it survives on fishing as its main industry, and a pristine beach with unforgettable views of the sunrise. Overlooking the beach stands the Gopalpur Lighthouse, lone and imposing in its red and white stripes. The original mast-light, established in 1871, was replaced by a skeletal tower in 1925. The lighthouse as it stands today was commissioned in 1967.
Like most structures on the eastern seaboard of India, the lighthouse faces the seasonal fury of the Bay of Bengal. This particular lighthouse has the somewhat unsung distinction of facing two of the worst cyclones in recent memory. The first being the deadly “super cyclonic storm” of 1999 that hit large swathes of the area with a top windspeed of 155 MPH and killed roughly 10,000 people. More recently the tower bore lone witness to the onslaught of Cyclone Phailin, a Category 1 hurricane that made landfall here in October 2013, driving everyone to have to seek safety in shelters. Everyone, that is, except the lighthouse staff, who stayed on along with their families, manning the wireless system to relay cyclone updates! With the exception of some uprooted trees, the structure suffered minor damage and the staff and engineers were unharmed.
The lighthouse serves numerous ships as well as the Indian Navy and Coast Guard as a radio beacon station and is open to the public. The top of the structure offers phenomenal 360 degree views of the once bustling port that is now a quaint and peaceful beach town.
Know Before You Go
Visiting hours are afternoons daily. Closing time is 5:30 pm sharp. Avoid carrying bags umbrellas etc. as these are not allowed atop.
The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar, 180 kilometers away.