Puri : The land of Jagannath

Puri in Orissa is a major pilgrimage destination for the Hindus. Situated on the eastern coastline of India, Puri is around 60 kilometers away from Bhubaneswar. The most devoted pilgrim center for Hindus in India, Puri is also known as the Jagannath Puri (Jagannath is the Lord of Universe) and is credited with the famous Jagannath temple. The Jagannath Temple, a shrine built during 12th century AD, is one of the popular appeals for religious traveler. The Hindu mythology contained in the Skanda Purana describes Puri as the resting place of Lord Vishnu.  With historical temples and sacred rituals, Puri draws all the enthusiast tourists to its lap for a lifetime experience.

An ancient city famous for the much revered Jagannath Temple, Puri holds immense religious significance and is a much marvelous pilgrimage destination in India. While the eleventh century Jagannath Temple is the main tourist attraction here, other important religious sites that your Puri tours must include are Konark Temple , Tota Gopinath Mandir and Alalanath Mandir. Several number of temples coupled with the beautiful beach on the Bay of Bengal are the biggest tourist attractions in Puri.

A major celebration in Puri is Rath Yathra (Chariot festival), conducted every year. This festival, held in the month of June – July, is associated with the Jagannath temple and during this season thousands of Hindu Pilgrims gather in Puri to witness the majestic festival. Another festival, which attracts many, is the Puri Beach Festival which is celebrated in the month of November every year.

Tourist Attraction

Temple of Lord Jagannath:

Dedicated to the Lord of the Universe, this famous temple is surrounded by a fortified wall and is visible for miles. Containing within it a large number of smaller shrines, the main sanctum houses the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. The Temple of Lord Jagannath built during the 12th century A.D. by Chodaganga Deva dominates the landscape for kilometers around. In front of the main gate stands a 16 sided monolithic pillar (11 metres high), called Aruna Stambha which formally stood in front of the Sun Temple and was brought to Puri during the 18th century A.D.  The main entrance is guarded by two lions, hence giving it the name Singha Dwar. The main temple is flanked by almost 30 shrines, which can be visited when you circumambulate the main temple.

When visiting the Jagannath Temple, you must take your share of the mahaprasad prepared for the Lord. And do not miss the holy kitchen which has a staggering 752 stoves fired by wood . The daily menu of this includes dals, vegetable curries, rice and kheer. It is ritual to eat the bhog sitting on the floor, from plantain leaves. It’s timing is 5.30 am-10.00 pm

Jagannath-Tempele, Puri, Orissa

Jagannath-Tempele, Puri, Orissa

Rath Yatra Festival in Puri

Rath Yatra Festival in Puri (Photo credit Jeff Henig)

Gundicha Mandir:

 Located 2 kms from the main Jagannath Temple, this temple is visited by the Lord and his siblings for 7 days during the Rath Yatra. The structure has a dome-like construction, crowned by the Vishnu’s Sudarshan. The temple has two gateways – one for the lord’s entry and one for his exit. Open from: 6.00 am-3.00 pm, 4.00 pm-10.00 pm

Mausima Temple:

Dedicated to Goddess Ardhasini who drank half the water that once flooded Puri, this shrine is visited by the Lord during Rath Yatra. On his way back from Gundicha Mandir, the Lord and his brother and sister are offered Podapaitha here.

Open from: 6.00 am-3.00 pm, 4.00 pm-10.00 pm

Loknath Temple:

The Lokanath temple is situated about 3 kilometres away from the Jagannath temple on the Western outskirts of the town .In this temple the Shiva Linga, remains always under water in a small square vat, fed by a natural spring of the nearby Parvati tank. It is visible only on the night of ‘Pankadhar Ekadasi’ before the Sivaratri, when all the water is bailed out to enable thousands of the devotees to see and worship the Lord. People who suffer from incurable diseases come here for Prayer. Some of them are believed to have been cured due to divine grace. Legend says that the ‘Linga’ of the Lokanath temple was installed here by Lord Ramachandra.

Puri Beach:

Puri Beach is counted amongst the most beautiful beaches in India also considered holy because of the millions of devotees come here for a dip when visiting Lord Jagannath’s city. Situated in the Bay of Bengal, the beach at Puri gives a spectacular sight of the sunrise and sunset. The waves can also be high and rough during full moon.  Enjoy an amazing outing at the golden sands of this clean beach, whose shores are lined with stalls selling yummy food and tiny trinkets. In fact, a large number of hotels line the beach ranging across all budgets.  Nice place to spend few hours and enjoy with the nature’s beauty.

The best time to visit the beach in Puri is in the month of November when the Puri Beach Festival is organized. During the festival, the beach glows throughout day and night.

Puri beach, Orissa

Puri beach, Orissa

Konark Temple:

 The Sun Temple of Konark marks the highest point of achievement of Kalinga architecture depicting the grace , the joy and the rhythm of life . Sun Temple Konark showcases how the Sun god roams about on his royal chariot. Built in the thirteenth century, it was conceived as a gigantic solar chariot with twelve pairs of exquisitely-ornamented wheels dragged by seven rearing horses.  Located on the sea-shore at a distance of 33 kms from Puri and about 64 kms from Bhubaneswar, Konark is also known as Konaditya. The name Konark has been derived from the words Kona and Arka, Kona meaning corner and Arka meaning the sun.

The main attraction of this temple is the idol of Jagmohana that showcases the brilliance of the contemporary architects of those days. The Sun Temple has lost its many of its original structures to time and disrepair, but the remaining structures and the remainder of the structures confirm till today the infinite imaginative power of the artistes of the time and their inspiring contribution to Vaisnav Culture.  The Archaeological Site Museum, another site of tourist interest is an exceptional collection of the various pieces of loose sculptors from the remnants of the Sun temple complex.

Konark Sun Temple, Orissa

Konark Sun Temple, Orissa

Konark Beach:

Just 3 Km away from the Sun Konark Temple, Konark Beach in Odisha (Orissa) is a nirvana for a beach lover , tourist  take bathe in the warmth of the sun and witness the beauty of sunrise or sunset. Another beautiful sight is that of the spotting fishermen, grossly involved in their daily chores with the fish.

Chandrabhaga Beach:

The tourists coming to Konark also visit the Chandrabhaga Beach, one of the most exotic beaches in Odisha (Orissa) offering a picturesque view. Surrounded by palm and casuarinas, the beach is at a short distance from the sun temple.

Pipli:

 Located almost 36 kms from Puri, this small town is known for its exquisite appliqué work. Pick up alluring traditional applique items such as batuas (cloth pouches) and sunjis (embroidered quilts), bedsheets, umbrellas and garments.

Chilika Lake:

Nestling in the heart of coastal Orissa, Chilika is India’s biggest inland lake. Spread over 1165 square kilometres during the monsoon season . Chilika is the largest brackish water lagoon of Asia situated on east coast of India . In winter Chilika lagoon flutters with thousands of migratory birds and water-fowls from as far as the Siberia, Caspian sea, Lake Baikal, Aral sea, remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz steppes of Mangolia, central and south east Asia, Ladakh and the Himalayas for feeding, resting and roosting. Every year the birds start coming to the lake around the second and third week of October and stay up to March. They start their homeward journey at commencement of summer.

There is the Nalaban Island in the middle of the lake, which is a classified bird sanctuary. This lake is also home to the Irrawaddy Dolphins.

Sunset at Chilika Lake, Orissa

Sunset at Chilika Lake, Orissa (Photo credit by Monsoon Lover)

Satapada Dolphin Sanctuary:

Located at a distance of 50 kilometers from Puri, Satapada on Chilika is very famous for Irrawaddy Dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris). It is located on the southern part of the Chilika Lake. Satapada is also famous for Sea Mouth Island where Chilka lake meets the Bay of Bengal. Satpada also provides the opportunity for viewing a memorable sunrise and sunset. It is advisable to reach there in morning hours and spent much of your time with Dolphins. The Dolphin Motor Boat Association provides various motor boats at Satapada. Visitors can hire boats to go to the dolphin viewpoint to get a sight of the dolphins.

Alarnath Temple:

Alarnath Temple  is famous because it is considered as the manifestation of Lord Jagannath of Puri during the period of Anasara . This period falls just before the Ratha Jatra. Many devotees visit this temple during closing of Darshan at Jaganatha Temple during Anasara period.  On the way to Satapada from Puri at a distance of 22 KM the temple of Alarnath is located.

How to reach

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. Bhubaneswar is connected by air to cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad.

By Road :

Puri is covered by extensive network of roads. Main cities and tourist destinations, like Bhubaneswar, Konark in Orissa are connected to Puri by road.

By Rail :

Puri is a terminus on the East Coast Railway having direct express and super-fast train links with New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Tirupati etc.

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