The holy city of
Puri is located 60-km from Bhubaneswar
on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. It is one of the four holy dhamas of
India - Puri, Dwarka, Rameswaram and Badrinath. It is considered that a
pilgrimage of the temples of India is not complete without making the
journey to Puri. Situated on the eastern coastline of the country, Puri is
most well known as an important Hindu pilgrimage center. The Jaggarnath
Temple, one of the four most important Hindu pilgrimage sites or the
chardham is located here. Also, Puriís wonderfully wide white-sand
beaches, fishing farms and superb resorts make it an inviting tourist
destination. The surf on the beaches here is one of the best on the entire
eastern coastline of India, and dawn is a breathtaking sight. Visiting the
Lord Jaggarnath temple, walking on the beach and experiencing the beauty
of the sunrise and sunset are probably some of the best things to do in
Puri. One could also visit the nearby small villages to look at the folk
art and handicrafts, which are bright, colourful and exquisitely crafted
items. The traditional methods of fishing used by the local fishermen are
of interest, as is visiting nearby historic sites to garner a sense of the
cityís history and the lifestyle of the locals.
Puri has a typical tropical climate and is best visited during the winters
between October to April after the monsoon clears all the dust and dirt
around. Light woolens may be required, for nights by the sea can be
Puri is called "Sri Purusottama Dham" or "Martya Vaikuntha",
the abode of Lord Vishnu on earth. Other names are "Sriksetra"
(best of all sacred centers), "Purusottama Ksetra" (the abode of
the supreme being), "Nilachal", "Nalagiri", "Sankha
Ksetra", and "Jagannatha Dhama". Puri is about 2-km wide
and 4-km long.
Temple or Jagannath temple here is one of the major temples in India.
The worship of Lord Jagannatha is so ancient that there is no idea how
long. He has been worshiped. The Lord has had many temples before the
Sri Ramanuja visited Puri between 1107 and 1117 century AD and stayed for
some time. Vishnu Swami visited Puri in the second half of the 12th
century and established a 'Matha' near 'Markandeswar' Tank, called "Vishnuswami
Matha". Nimbarka Acharya also made a pilgrimage to Puri, and Srila
Prabhupada visited in January 1977.
A major reason that Puri is so important to the "Gaudiya Vaishnavas"
is because Lord Chaitanya spent so much time here. Many of His pastimes
with His most intimate associated\s took place at different sites in this
Non-Hindus cannot enter the Jagannatha temple. This is strictly enforced.
Besides being an important holy town Puri also has one of the best beaches
for swimming in India. It is one of the most visited places in India by
young foreign tourist. It is a very pleasant place.
Lord Jagannatha Temple
The temple of Lord Jagannatha or Jagannath temple ('Lord of the Universe')
at Puri is one of the most sacred pilgrimage spots in India, one of the
four abodes ('Dhamas') of the divine that lie on the four directions of
the compass. The present temple structure was built in the 12th century by
the 'Ganga' King 'Choda Ganga Deva', replacing an earlier structure, which
probably dated to the 10th century.
Until recently, almost the entire temple was covered in white plaster, so
much so that European sailors in previous centuries used it as a
navigation point, referring to it as the "White Pagoda" in
contrast to the "Black Pagoda" of Konark, further up the coast.
Gundicha Mandir (Temple)
This temple is located at the end of Grad road (the main road) about 3-km
northeast of the Jagannatha temple. At the time of the 'Ratha-Yatra'
festival, Lord Jagannatha goes to the Gundicha temple and stays there for
one week. After one week He returns to His original temple. It is said
that the wife of 'Indradyumna', the king who originally established the
temple of Jagannatha, was known as "Gundicha". The cleansing of
the Gundicha temple takes place the day before the Ratha-Yatra festival as
mentioned in "Chaitanya-Caritamrita".
Non-Hindus can walk within the walls and see the beautiful garden, but
they are not allowed in the temple building.