of the four holiest places in India, Puri is washed by the
sea, and embraced by causarina - fringed beaches. It is said
that one obtains 'moksha' from the cycle of birth and rebirth,
if one stays here for three days and nights. Puri is the hallowed
seat of Lord Jagannath (Lord of the Universe), Subhadra and
Balabhadra. One of the four holy dhams of Hinduism, Puri is
possibly one of the very few religious sites which combines
the outdoor pleasures of sea and divine beaches with the religious
sentiments of 'darshan'. A place, known by many names over
the centuries - Nilgiri, Niladri, Nilachal, Purushottam, Sankhakshetra,
Srikshetra, Jagannath Dham, Jagannath Puri - Puri is dominated
by two great forces, one created by God, and the other by
What to See
Sangam The sacred Sangam is the
confluence of three of the holiest rivers in Hindu mythology
- Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. It is believed
that it is at the Sangam, that a few drops of the nectar 'Amrit
Bindu' fell .. making its waters truly magical. It is during
the Kumbh Mela and the Ardh Kumbh that the Sangam truly comes
alive .. attracting the devout from all across the country.
Jagannath Temple: Even before
one enters Puri, this 65-metre high temple makes its presence
felt. The 12th century temple built by Chodaganga, to commemorate
the shifting of his capital from South to Central Orissa,
stands in a compound on the Nilgiri Hill, and is surrounded
by a 20 foot high wall, within which lie several smaller shrines.
A traditional porch, shrine, hall of offerings and a pillared
hall of dance, form the rest of this temple. The remarkable
thing about this temple, since its early beginnings, is that
there has been no discrimination, ever, between castes. To
one end of the road, that leads to the temple is Gundicha
Mandir, Lord Jagannath's summer temple, within a walled garden
at the far end of Grand Road, where the deity is enshrined
for a week, on a simple throne. Like the Lingaraja in Bhubaneswar,
Puri's Jagannath is not open for non - Hindus, who must contend
themselves, from viewing it from a vantage point, outside
Ananda Bazar: The largest food
market in the world.
Gundicha Mandir: The Garden House,
the smaller sanctum, that houses the deities during the Rath
Yatra. The walls enclose a garden, in which the temple is
built. It is also known as the Aunt's house.
Puri Beach: Sunrise and sunset
on the seas of Puri are awesome spectacles, and visitors can
ride the waves in catamarans. The beaches are ideal for sunbathing.
Balighai Beach: 8 kms from Puri, is Balighai Beach,
at the mouth of the river Nuanai, a popular picnic spot, fringed
by lovely causarina trees.
Satyabadi (Sakshigopal): The shrine of Lord Sakshigopal
is only 20 kms away from Puri. the sacred feet of Shri Radha
can however be only seen on 'Anala nawami' day.
Bada Danda: An ideal site for
some extensive shopping.
The Chandan Yatra celebrating
the Hindu New Year. The Snana Yatra,
celebrating Lord Jagannath's ritual bath is held on the day
of the full moon in June (Jyestha). The original deities are
taken out for public viewing. During the Jhulana Yatra, proxy
images of the deities are carried out in grand processions
for 21 days, to cruise in beautifully decorated boats in the
Narmada Tank.And, of course, the prime attraction for tourists
all over India and abroad, which is, the Rath Yatra, which
falls in the month of June- the ideal time to visit Puri.Lord
Jagannath with his sister Subhadra and brother Balabhadra
take an annual vacation to the 'Gundicha Ghar', a smaller
sanctum, 2 kms from the main temple. This journey constitutes
the Rath Yatra Festival. The three deities, in separate raths
(wooden chariots), are pulled by devotees to the Gundicha
temple. These raths are elaborately dressed in a riot of colours,
the colours symbolising the significance of each deity.
The Rath Yatra and Nava
Kalebara, are the famous festivals of Puri. Both these
events are related to the reigning deity, Lord Jagannath.
The Nava Kalebara festival is
an immensely significant religious ritual, wherein the the
idols of the three deities - Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra
change their external forms. New idols are carved out of specially
sanctified Chandan-Neem trees, within strictly prescribed
regulations. The 'daru' (wood) is then transported to the
temple in full regalia. At this point the Vishwakarmas (wood
sculptors) step in and work for 21 days and nights, in strict
secrecy, giving final shape to the idols. The new idols are
then enshrined after transferring the 'Brahma' within each
idol into their new form. This is again done in strict accordance
to the religious norms. Puri Beach Festival
is celebrated annually in early November, in Puri.Orissan
craft, cuisine and cultural evenings are the highlights of
How to get there
Road links to Bhubaneswar (62 km). Nearest airport is Bhubaneswar.
There are also rail links to Calcutta, Madras, and Delhi.