Jagannath Puri

The aura of lord jagannath

“Jagannath puri” the word itself all alone is enough to enlighten the glory of place as the words “Jagannath puri” means a place to which creator of this world himself chosen to be his home .The city is known for the beautiful temple named jagannath temple after which the city came to be known as Jagannātha puri for whole World. And the glory of the place is enhanced by the famous Rath Yatra festival taking place each year which takes you to pure heavenly experience. Jagannātha is worshipped by Hindus all over the world. The Jagannātha Temple in Puri is regarded as one of the four most sacred Hindu pilgrimage places in India.

The Beauty of temple

One can wonder that how could it be possible in olden days to make such extremely beautiful temple having marvelous carving on it. The massive temple complex covers an area of over 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2), and is enclosed by a elevated fortified wall. You can’t even imagine that it contains at least 120 temples and shrines in its boundary. The sculptural richness and variability of the Odia style of temple architecture, chants the brilliance of Indian architecture. The main temple is a curved temple and crowning the top is the ‘srichakra’ (a eight spoked wheel) of Vishnu. Also known as the “Nilachakra”, it is made out of Ashtadhatu or eight metals .The temple tower was built on a raised platform of stone and, rising to 214 feet (65 m) above the inner sanctum where the deities reside, dominates the surrounding landscape. The pyramidal roofs of the surrounding temples and adjoining halls, or mandapas, rise in steps toward the tower like a ridge of mountain peaks

The Mandapas
There are many Mandapas or Pillared halls on raised platforms within the temple complex meant for religious congregations. The most prominent is the Mukti Mandap the congregation hall of the holy seat of selected learned brahmins. Here important decisions regarding conduct of daily worship and festivals are taken. The Dol Mandap is noteworthy for a beautifully carved stone Torana or arch which is used for constructing a swing for the annual Dol Yatra festival.

The Temple Kitchen & Mahaprasada
The temple’s kitchen is considered as the largest kitchen in India. Tradition maintains that all food cooked in the temple kitchens are supervised by the Goddess Mahalakshmi,the empress of Srimandir herself. It’s all food is cooked following rules as prescribed by Hindu religious texts. Cooking.There are total 56 varieties of naivedhyas offered to the deities,near ratnavedi as well as in bhoga mandap on five particular muhurtas.The most awaited prasad is kotho bhoga or abadha,offered at mid-day at around 1PM,depending upon temple rituals.

The main shrine is enclosed by a 20 feet (6.1 m) high wall. Another wall surrounds the main temple. The Singahdwara, which in means The Lion Gate, is main entrance to the temple. The Singhadwara is so named because two huge statues of crouching lions exist on either side of the entrance.

An idol of Jagannath known as Patitapavana, which in Sanskrit, means the “Saviour of the downtrodden and the fallen” is painted on the right side of the entrance. Apart from the Singhadwara, which is the main entrance to the temple, there are three other entrances facing north, south and west. They are named after the sculptures of animals guarding them. The other entrances are the Hathidwara or the Elephant Gate, the Vyaghradwara or the Tiger Gate and the Ashwadwara or the Horse Gate.

Temples inside temple

There are numerous smaller temples and shrines within the Temple complex where active worship is regularly conducted. The temple of Mahalakshmi has an important role in rituals of the main temple.It is said that preparation of naivedya as offering for Jagannath is supervised by Goddess Mahalakshmi. The Kanchi Ganesh Temple is dedicated to Ganesh. There are other shrines namely Muktimandap, Surya, Vimala, Nrsimha, Ramachandra, Hanuman and Eshaneshwara.

Chariot festival- The divine experience

This spectacular festival includes a procession of three huge chariots bearing the idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra through the Bada Danda meaning the Grand Avenue of Puri till their final destination the Gundicha Temple. The chariot festival of Puri is most marvelous of the countless festivals celebrated round the year in the holy city of Puri, This massive festival also symbolizes a journey to light from the dark, which commences on the 2nd day of the bright fortnight in the month of Asadha (June/July). Ratha Jatra is a huge Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath held at Puri in the state of Orissa, The festival commemorates Lord Jagannath’s annual visit to his aunt’s home

Every year in mid-summer, Lord Jagannath, with his elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, goes on vacation, travelling on grand chariots, from his temple in Puri, to his garden palace in the countryside. This belief of the Hindus has given rise to one of the biggest religious festivals in India — the Rath Yatra or the Chariot Festival How the Festival is Celebrated.

The festival begins with the Ratha Prathistha or invoking ceremony in the morning, but the Ratha Tana or chariot pulling is the most exciting part of the festival, which begins in the late afternoon when the chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhdra start rolling. Each of these carriages have different specifications: The chariot of Lord Jagannath is called Nandighosa, has 18 wheels and is 23 cubits high; the chariot of Balabhadra, called Taladhvaja has 16 wheels and is 22 cubits high; Devadalana, the chariot of Subhadra has 14 wheels and is 21 cubits high.

Each year these wooden chariots are constructed anew in accordance with religious specifications. The idols of these three deities are also made of wood and they are religiously replaced by new ones every after 12 years. After a nine-day halt of the deities at the country temple amidst festivities, the divine summer vacation gets over and the three return to the city temple of Lord Jagannath.

The biggest and the grandest of all festivals The mammoth wooden chariots carrying the three deities pulled by thousands of devotees, present a stunning scene.

The grand charriots

The Puri Rath Yatra is world famous for the crowd that it attracts. Puri being the abode of these three deities, the place attracts crowd of about one million devotees, tourists. from across India and abroad. Many artists and artisans are engaged in building these three chariots, weaving its fabric covers that dress up the chariots, and painting them in the right shades and motifs to give them the best possible looks. Fourteen tailors are engaged in stitching up the covers that require almost 1,200 meters of cloth. Orissa’s government-run textile mill usually supply the cloth needed to decorate the chariots. However, other Bombay-based Century Mills also donate cloth for the Rath Yatra.

Best time to visit: The 10-days running festival celebrated in June-July every year gives tourists the best time to visit the holy shrine

Other attraction of puri

Although puri is considered as a spiritual destination but one can wonder how much this place is blessed with natural beauty. One can come here not only to satisfy his spiritual quest but also to found peace in lap of nature. While for the lover of art & craft puri is perfect destination. It has numerous other tourist places that travelers can visit and enjoy. The sightseeing itinerary of a tourist visiting Puri does not stop at this only. It also covers the numerous excursions from the city, right from the picturesque Chilka Lake to the Alarnath shrine.

The Konark Temple:
The Sun temple,Konark all alone is magnificent enough to attract the attention of large number of tourist. Konark houses a colossal temple dedicated to the Sun God. Even in its ruined state it is a outstanding temple reflecting the brilliance of the architects that envisioned and built it. Bhubaneshwar, Konark and Puri constitute the Golden triangle of Orissa, visited in large numbers by pilgrims and tourists.

The Konark temple is widely known not only for its architectural splendor but also for the intricacy and profusion of sculptural work. The entire temple has been conceived as a chariot of the sun god with 24 wheels, each about 10 feet in diameter, with a set of spokes and elaborate carvings. Seven horses drag the temple. Two lions guard the entrance, crushing elephants. A flight of steps lead to the main entrance.

The construction of the temple is in the form of chariot, the legend has it that the ‘ Sun-God’, use to ride on this divine chariot across the heaven.

This huge temple chariot is drawn by 24 wheels and seven horses. Each wheel is about 10 feet in diameter; the majestic intricate carving on these massive wheels of the chariot is just beyond imagination and is the major attractions of the temple. The spokes of these wheels serve as sundials, and the shadows formed by these can give the precise time of the day. Some says that the wheels represent the 24 hours of the day and others says the 12 months in its concept, where as the seven horses dragging the temple makes up the seven days of the week.There are images of animals, foliage, men, warriors on horses and other interesting patterns in erotic style. There are three images of the Sun God, positioned to catch the rays of the sun at dawn, noon and sunset.

Thus it does not matter whether you come as pilgrim or culture lover you must make a visit to Konark.

Chilka Lake
Chilka Lake is one of the most hunted tourist attractions in puri. Chilika Lake is one of the largest lakes in not only India, but also Asia and stretches over an area of 1,100 sq km. It is a very popular picnic spot and provides ample opportunities for boating, fishing and bird watching. If you just want to relax then this is the perfect place for you.

The lake is positioned far away from the hustle bustle of the city and serves as the perfect escape from the everyday tensions. During winters, Chilka Lake serves as a bird sanctuary, providing home to a wide variety of migratory birds that come here from different parts of the world.

The stunning view of the Chilika Lake, the melodious humming of birds and the soul soothing calmness of the surroundings are bound to leave an undying impression in your mind. Going on a cruise is another one of the adventures you can undertake while visiting the Chilka Lake.

Gundicha Temple
Gundicha temple is one of the most renowned temples in Puri, located on the northeastern side of the Jagannath temple. The temple is painstakingly cleansed a day before the commencement of the Jagannath Rath Yatra. Gundicha Temple is considered to be the home of the aunt of Lord Krishna. However, the temple has been named after the King Indradyumna, who was also known by the name ‘Gundicha’. This is because he was the one who laid the foundation for establishment of this temple. One of the highlights of the temple is a huge dome that is adorned with the wheel of Lord Vishnu.

Puri Beach.
The religious city puri is home to some of the premium beaches of Orissa. One of the most popular as well as most revered of these beaches is the Puri Beach, which is situated at a distance of approximately 60 km from Bhubaneswar. The holy waters, The most visited stretch of Puri Beach is the one situated opposite the Marine Parade. It is quite clean as well as remote. Just like the other beaches of Puri, this beach also provides brilliant views of sunrise and sunset. It also serves as the venue of the Puri Beach Festival.

Raghurajpur
You can call it a village of artists Raghurajpur 12Km from Puri on Bhubaneswar road in 203 National highway, Raghurajpur- The artisans village, is an alive Museum itself. Every house hold has a painter and can show you lavishly painted, the age old tradition paintings on canvas, skil (tassar) and other varieties like papier mache, masks, stone idols, sculptures, wooden idils and toys and many more. The recently drawn mural paintings on the house walls is a step forward to make impression about survival of the past glory. One can contact any house in this village for the painting. The village ambience is also heart touching. This is a Heritage Craft Village of Orissa.

Satapada on Chilika
Satapada, a lake side resort located on the southeast sideChilika logoon which is the largest brackish water lake in Asia. 50 Km. from Puri on the road leading to land’s end you find Satapada. A finy cluster of seven island ‘sata’ means seven and ”pada’ means village-this is where the lake meets the Bay of Bengal. Chilika covers an area of 1,165 square Kilometers over the district of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam. Chilika is home to more than a hundred species of fish and dolphins. With the onset of winter, birds begin to arrive in Chilika, and within a month, thousands congregation of migration birds in the world after lake Victoria in Africa.

Best time to visit

Although Puri is year round destination but mercury goes so high in May and June.The Puri Beach Festival in November welcomes the onset of winter, and till March and early April, Puri remains a enjoyable place to visit

How to reach

Puri By Air
Biju Patnaik airport at Bhubaneswar is the nearest airport to Puri, which is nearly 56 km away from the heart of the Puri city. The airport is connected to Delhi and Mumbai.

Puri By Train
Puri is a major railway junction. Regular direct train services are available from Puri to many cities in India, including Bhubaneshwar, New Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata.

Puri By Bus
Orissa road transport corporation buses connect Puri to many cities in Orissa. Frequent bus services are available from Bhuvaneshwar (56 km), Cuttack (32 km) and Konark .