We Said Go Travel Writing Award: In the beginning in Konark, India


The We Said Go Travel Writing Award started one day in konarkIndia. I saw a 30-year-old Sand Art contest near Konark and the UNESCO Sun Temple and wondered about the first day.

I imagined a man turning to his friend and saying, “Let’s have a sand art contest!” I expect that the first person and perhaps the next dozen told him it was crazy and a rotten idea.

But he kept going. He built the festival and had good times and bad times. There were people who participated and those who called him mad. He believed and it grew.

The day I was there in the December of 2012, it was a giant international festival with crowds of people flocking to the area. A true success and even a reason for people to come to the area.

I sat in the sand staring back at the sand creations and decided at that moment to have the first Writing Contest on We Said Go Travel. People believed in it from the first moment. I wrote to Richard Bangs and said, “I am going to have a writing contest.” He immediately wrote back, “I am going to be a judge!”

For the first one which began in January 2013, I hoped that at least ten people would enter. We had 60. Each contest grew and grew. At this point, I have published over 1700 writers from 75 countries. For 2016, I have evolved from a free contest to a travel writing award with a small fee to enter. The contest, the site and I have all grown over the last few years. We Said Go Travel LLC needs to be a proper business and has new advisors and a new writing award.

I would be honored if you would share your story about freedom in the first We Said Go Travel Writing Award. I hope you will journey will me to discover what we can build by 2046 for the 30th anniversary of the We Said Go Travel Writing Award.

For inspiration, I would like to share a few quotes from Tommy Spaulding’s It’s Not Just Who You Know: Transform Your Life (and Your Organization) by Turning Colleagues and Contacts into Lasting, Genuine Relationships:

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

“The most important thing in your life is not what you do or who you know; it’s who you become.”

From the Roman philosopher Seneca: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

From Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Video of my day at the Sand Art FestivalPuri International Sand Art Competition, India, December 2012

More about my visit to the Sun Temple:

Regrets, Are We Slaves to Time?


Walking around the Sun Temple in Konark, India, one can’t help but think about time. The temple has seven horses drawing a carriage, one for each day of the week. The only UNESCO World Heritage site in Eastern India, the Sun Temple has 24 sandstone wheels, one for each hour of the day. The temple was constructed in a mere 12 years in the 13th century, the carvers lived on site and worked endlessly to finish.

There are four levels of carvings that depict the cycle of life from childhood to adolescence and from adult to elder. Each piece of the structure highlights aspects in our physical world. For example, prior to the larger structure collapsing, the large stone gateways allowed the sun to enter and alight the top of the temple at morning, especially during the solstice.

Being surrounded by stone timekeeping, it makes me ponder how we spend our time… Are we building the next great temple to recall our greatest moments or are we simply too busy to make our dreams come true?

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Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries on six continents. This University of Pennsylvania graduate sailed across the seas for seven years with Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Renaissance Cruises and spent three years backpacking across Asia. Discover her articles in publications from AARP: The Magazine and AAA Explorer to WIRED and Wharton Magazine, as well as her site WeSaidGoTravel. On her award nominated global podcast, Make Your Own Map, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors, and as a journalist has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty-two times. Named a #3 travel influencer for 2023, Niver talks travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, her YouTube channel with over 2 million views, and in her memoir, Brave-ish, One Breakup, Six Continents and Feeling Fearless After Fifty.

One response to “We Said Go Travel Writing Award: In the beginning in Konark, India

  1. Great! I hope you enjoyed here in India. And i would like to thank you for enlighten the bright side of Indian Culture and historical places.

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