The most sacred pilgrim center for Hindus in India, Puri also known as the Jagannath (the Lord of Universe) is credited with the famous Jagannath temple and is along the coast of Bay of Bengal in the state of Orissa in India. Hindu mythology indicates, as is given in Skanda Purana, Puri as the resting place of Lord Vishnu.
Puri is a large depository of art and architecture of India, especially that of Orissa. The historical and cultural edifices have silvery antiquity dating back to 3rd century B.C. to 17th century A.D. Konark, Bhuvaneshwar and Puri complete the golden triangle of Orissa, the three places with majestic history, heritage and many renowned worshipping shrines and of which Puri attracts the maximum number of visitors.
Chilika Lake, the Asia’s the biggest inland salt-water lagoon, is separated from the waters of Bay of Bengal by a narrow neck of land. The Lake extends across the three districts of Puri, Ganjam and Khordha in Orissa.
Archeologically important temples in Puri are many. One of them is the Ganesha temple, dedicated to Sri. Vinayaka. The temple is assumed to be built long back has many carvings showcasing Hindu religious beliefs and cultural heritage. Hindu devotees visit frequently this temple to offer their prayers.
Gundicha temple got its fame due to the seven days during the Jagannath Rath Yathra. The Idols are kept for one week in this small sanctum known as Gundicha Mandir alias Aunt’s House. This sanctum is built in the middle of a beautiful garden and hence is known as Garden House also.
Jagannath Rath Yatra
Rath Yatra, the car festival, is an annual ritual celebrated at Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa. ‘Rath’ means ‘chariot’ and ‘Yatra’ means a ‘pilgrimage’ or ‘procession’. Starting from the second day of the waxing phase of the moon of the Ashadha month (mid June – mid July), the festival lasts for ten days.
A small temple dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, situated near to Jagnaath temple, plays a very important place in Rath Yathra. It is assumed that the marriage of Lord Siva and Goddess Parvati is occuring on the sixth day of bright fortnight of Jyeshta, during May-June, on the day known as Jyestha Sukla Sasthi. On this occasion, Goddess Lakshmi happily invites the couple Shiva and Parvathy in this temple.
The well-known Shiva temple of Puri, constructed in the 11th century, Loknath Temple is very close to and to the west of the Jagannath Temple. Mythology claims that the sacred shivling of this temple had been founded by Lord Ram. The spectacular specialty of this shivling is that it always happens to be under the water, belief says that Goddess Ganga flows as a stream of water through the head of the shivling.
Markandeyesvara Temple, placed near the Bindu Sagar and assumed to be constructed during 13th century, is a well known Shiva temple. The temple resembles the other two famous Shiva temples in Orisaa, Vaital Deul Temple and Sisiresvara Temple. The slight difference with the Sisiresvara temple is in the ornamentation of the doorframe, in which ‘graha’ (Planet) Ketu is absent and the figures of other eight 'Grahas' are only represented.
Mausi Ma Temple
Mausi Ma, Mother’s sister of Lord Jagannath, Temple is one of the most ancient temples nearby Puri and is located at Kulada in Ganjam District of Orissa. As the name suggests the presiding deity is Mausi Ma. This is really a worth visiting pilgrim centre and is the only temple dedicated to the sister of Mother of Lord Jagannath. The temple annual rituals and celebrations are along with the Annual Rath Yathra of Jagannath temple.
Museum and Sudarshan Workshop
Established in 1977 by famous Shri Sudarshan Sahoo, Sudharshan Craft Museum is located in the Station Road in Puri. The Museum displays famous artistic works of Shri Sudarshan Sahoo and other contemporary artists. Significant exhibits consist of handicraft items, paintings and sculptures in stone, wood and fiberglass. The museum premise is worth visiting, a Japanese style Buddhist temple, a Workshop and a library are enclosed in the premise. The workshop provides a first hand and direct experience on the craft and sculpture.
The Narendra Tank, one of the largest tanks in Orissa and believed to be built in the 15th century, is located at Mauza Dandimala Sahi, near Puri. This is a holy tank in which the famed Chandana Yatra of Lord Jagannath, known as 'Chandana Pushkarini’ is celebrated annually. There are many small and big temples surrounding this tank. The water level of the tank with 16 'ghatas' (bathing places), is about 10 feet below the present road level. The main ghata has a flight of steps made of Khondalite leading to it.
Golden sands, amazing sceneries of sunrise and sunset, soothing effect of sunbath and seclusion in tranquility, Puri Beach offers all these to her most privileged guests. A favorite tourist spot, Puri beach is very lengthy and quite wide. This place offers physical and spiritual calmness for the body and soul. The seashore breasts famous pilgrim centers including Jagannath temple.
Sakshi Gopal Temple, one of the ancient temples in Orissa resembling the Puri Jagannath temple as a miniature version, is located at Satyabadi near Puri and considered as a highly revered shrine. The temple idols brought by King Prataprudra Deva after winning over Kanchi depict the eternal love of Krishna and Radha, with a life size image of Krishna playing the flute together with Radha on the left. The images of Radha and Krishna are very remarkable.
Shree Jagannath Puri Temple
Shree Jagannath Puri temple, one of the most impressing monuments of the Indian State Orissa, was constructed by a famous king of Ganga Dynasty Ananta Varman Chodaganga Deva dating back to 12th century at the seashore Puri. This astounding Vaishnava temple enshrines Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Balabhadra. The main temple of Jagannath is an impressing and amazing structure constructed in Kalinga architecture, with a height of 65 meters placed on an elevated platform.
Swargadwar, literally means the door to heaven is a secluded beach and a holy place in Puri. This beach is unaffected by the modern cultural offing and still maintains the sacred nature. Many Hindu devotees visit this beach to have a dip at sea. Legends claim that this was the bathing place of Sri Chaithanyadev who attained the state of Brahma stands for the divine soul.
Vimala temple, Shaktipitha a shrine of Shakti, was constructed by the great kings of Somavamsi Kingdonm in tenth century. This temple enshrines seven Mother Goddesses, Shaktis, namely Brahmi, Maheswari, Andri, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi and Chamunda. Goddess Vimala is the presiding deity of this renowned temple. This temple stands as a monument for the foregone years when Puri was an authentic Sakthipitha. There is a sacred pond assumed to be of Markanda near the temple. This temple provides facility for daily prayers and offerings. Many devotees visit this temple to secure the blessings of Mother Goddesses.
How To Reach
Biju Patnaik airport at Bhubaneswar is the nearest airport to Puri, which is nearly 56 km away from the heart of the Puri city. It costs about Rs 900 by taxi cab. The airport is connected to Delhi and Mumbai. International travelers need to get connections through Delhi or Kolkata.
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.
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. Orissa Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) offer deluxe buses for sight seeing tours in Puri, which costs about Rs 250 per person.