Puri – The Abode of Lord Jagannath
On the eastern coast of the state of Orissa, off the Bay of Bengal, is located the beautiful temple city of Puri. The seaside town of Puri, at about 60 km from the capital city of Bhubhaneshwar, is known as an important religious destination for Hindus. Puri attracts pilgrims from all over the country to pay tributes to Lord Jagannath at this 12th-century temple.
Puri brings in both the religious and also the tourist who is in need of the much necessary solitude amidst the pristine sandy coastline from where both the sunrise and sunset is said to be magnificent.
Puri is the site of the Govardhana math, one of the four institutions established by Adi Shankaracharya, the others are at Sringeri, Dwaraka and Jyotirmath.
Lord Jagannath or Lord Krishna is highly revered in Puri. Lord Jagannath temple is built on a huge raised platform and is enclosed by a wall about seven meters high which has four gates, facing the four directions. Lord Jagannath is worshipped with his brother Balabhadra, sister Subhadra along with Sudarshan, Madhaba, Sridevi and Bhudevi. All the deities are kept on a bejewelled platform and are dressed in silk and adorned with jewels. The people who perform the ritual services at the Jagannath temple are called the sevayats or servitors. These sevayats acquire their position hereditarily and about 75 of them perform their functions daily.
The vast kitchen area of the temple can feed about one lakh pilgrims daily. The method of preparation is hygienic and traditional.
Another important event at the Jagannath temple in Puri is its annual chariot procession or ‘Rath Yatra’ of Lord Jagannath in the month of June which is pulled by over a thousand devotees.
India’s largest lake, Chilika, is around 50 km from Puri and is a place worth to visit with about 160 species of birds found here.
The Sun Temple at Konark, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is 35 km away from Puri. This 13th century temple dedicated to the sun and is built in the form of a chariot with wheels pulled by horses. The Konark Dance Festival is held every year during the month of December.
Pipli, 10 km from Puri, is known for its appliqué work or stitching fabric onto another fabric which is a major handicraft in Orissa.
Puri is well connected by rail, road and air. Trains from all the major cities arrive at Puri’s railway station. The nearest airport to Puri is in Bhubhaneshwar, 60 km away. State owned buses ply to Puri from all the major neighbouring cities.
If lucky you could even see the International sand artist, Sudarsan Patnaik, and one of his works on the beaches of Puri.