Attractions of Puri
Jagannath Temple Narasimha Temple Gundicha Siddha Mahavir
Indradyumna Tank Narendra Sarovara Lokanath Temple Parbati Sarovar
Rohini Kunda Markandeswar Swethaganga R K Mission
Puri Beach Swargadwar Jagannath Ballav Math Museum
The coastal town of Puri by the Bay of Bengal is one of the busiest tourist places of India. No wonder devotees as well as ordinary tourists throng here all the year round to capture moments of pleasure. Puri tops the popularity chart as an impressive tourist destination with magnificent temples, sunny Beaches, vibrant wildlife, exotic handicrafts, grand festivals along with a host of other things. Let’s have a look.
Jagannatha Temple: Jagannatha Temple the primary attraction of Puri is located at the one end of a road that is in local lingo called Bada Danda. The construction of the temple of Lord Jagannath Temple goes back to the 12th century and was built by Raja Ananta Varman Chodaganga Dev. The temple is also known as Bada Daula or Sri Mandir. There are four gates to the temple with the main gate located eastwards is known as Singh Dwar (Lion’s Gate). Inside the temple complex, the main temple at the center is flanked by two outer rings of small temples. Wooden images of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balavadra( elder brother of Lord Jagannatha) and Goddess Subhadra(sister) are worshipped. The temple is open from early morning to midnight. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple.
Narasimha temple: The Narasimha temple is also situated near the Jagannath temple complex. It is located on the southern side of the inner enclosure. The 10th-century temple built in sandstones is a full-fledged Pancha Rath. Many inscriptions on the wall of this temple shed history on its past.
Gundicha Mandir: The Gundicha Ghar or Gundicha temple is located around 21/2 km away at the other end of the majestic Bada Danda road. During the famous yearly Ratha Yatra Jagannatha along with Balavadra and Subhadra visit the Gundicha Ghar. According to legends, it is the residence of Shri Krishna’s aunt. This temple is also sacrosanct because the lord during the Chariot festival stays here for nine days.
Siddha Mahavir Temple: The Siddha Mahavir temple dedicated to Lord Hanumana is located at a distance of about one Km from the Gundicha temple. Though the small temple is not in any way grand or impressive it is very important from the point of view of devotion. It is said that Goswami Tulsidas, author of the epic Ramcharitamans stayed here. The temple built in sandstone has two structural features. They are called as Vimana and Jagamohannna.
Indradyumna Tank: Indradyumna tank or Sarvora is one of the five sacred tanks of Puri and is located northwest of Gundicha Ghar. It has a small shrine of the famous king Indryadyumna believed to be the one who made this grand Jagannatha temple originally. The complex also houses a Bal Gopal Temple.
Narendra Sarovara: The Narendra Sarovar covering an enormous area of 3.24 hectares is located north-east of the Jagannath Temple. A small temple on an island within the tank is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, Balarama, and Subhadra. It is here that the acclaimed Chandana yatra or the boat festival is held. Lord Madan Mohan supposed to be the representative of Lord Jagannath is taken for a boat ride that is fully decorated with a flower known as Chapa.
Lokanath Temple: Loknath temple is located around two kilometers to the west of the Jagannath Temple. Inside the sanctum sanctorum there is a Shiva Lingam submerged in water. In front of the Lingam is a statue of Nandi the bull.
Parbati Sarovar: The sacred Parbati Sarovar is in the same complex where the Loknath temple si housed. It is around 3 km from the Jagannath temple. The Shiva lingam of the Loknath temple remains submerged with the water from the natural spring of Parbati Sarovar.
Rohini Kunda: Rohini Kunda is situated inside the Lord Jagannath Temple complex. It is in front of Goddess Vimala Temple. The water of the Kunda known as `Karana Water` is considered extremely sacred. It is sprinkled by devotees on their body for purification. Just behind the Rohini Kunda, you can see an image of Kak Bhusanda Kaka (crow) with an interesting legend that links it to Lord Vishnu.
Markandeswar Tank and Temple - Markandeswar Tank is situated to the north of Jagannath Temple. This tank is also important as it is connected with a lot of rituals associated with the lord most important being Chandan Yatra. The temple bears ancient stone inscriptions pertaining to the Gange Dynasty.
Swethaganga: Swethaganga a small tank is located to the west of the Jagannath temple. There are two small temples on the banks of the tank. One is of Sweta Madhava and the other belongs to Matsya Madhava. They are supposed to be incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama: Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama was established in the year 1944. A great place to be, for the devotees of Ramakrishna, Ma Sharada and Swami Vivekananda. You can see the evening Arati here. Phone: 06752-22 2207
Jagannath Ballav Math: Jagannath Ballav Math is located opposite the Municipal Market. It is essentially a Math (monastery) associated with the memory of Ray Ramananda, a 16th-century administrator-turned saint of Orissa There is a beautiful garden behind the monastery with a beautiful temple of Hanuman.
Swargadwar Beach: Swargadwar Beach is located within close proximity to the Temple of Jagannatha. It is just 2 km. Swargadwar Beach used to be the bathing place of Sri Chaitanyadev, believed to be the incarnation of the Lord himself and a famous Vaishnava saint. The beautiful surroundings of the beach are the added attraction of the beach.
Puri Beach: Puri Beach with the vast expanse of blue and rowdy waves slashing the shores mercilessly with loud thunders is an interesting place. The place is not very quiet though with salespersons of every genre trying to outsell and jostling for space. The famed Puri Beach Festival also takes place here. If you are lucky then you can see the sand art -beautiful images made by hand with the sand of the beach. The Sunrise and sunset are other attractions.
Puri Museum: Puri Museum lets the curious visitors pep into the past with a rich collection of various artifacts. Open from 10 to 5 pm on all days except Monday and public holidays.
THINGS TO DO
We have tried here to list the ten things that are absolute must if you happen to be in Puri. Just have a look.
Do the Panchatirthas: The five sacred bathing places of Puri are collectively known as the Pancha Tirtha. They are Indradyumna Tank, Markandeya Tank, Rohini Kunda, Swetaganga and ‘Mahodadhi’the Sea. A visit to Puri, it is believed is inconsequential until the ceremony of Pancha Tirtha is performed. That is bathing in the five holy Tanks. Thus by visiting the Lord’s abode and bathing in the Pancha Tirthas you are assured of Salvation ( Jiva Mukti).
Partake Mahaprasad of the Temple: The Jagannatha Temple kitchen is unique it can cook and feed around 1lakh people daily.without any problem. That makes it perhaps the largest kitchen in the world. This Mahaprasada (Holy Food) is the most famous dining in Puri. Every day the traditional 56 varieties of cooked and uncooked dishes are prepared and offered to the deities and then sold to public in a large compound called Ananda Bazaar. This is done after 2 pm at nominal rates. The food is satvik and must be eaten in plantain leaves without wasting a single morsel. One must try the “ Abhada” prasad atleast once. Made with an array of lentils,vegetables and rice this is an amazing dish.
Watch the sand art at the beach: This is one must do on the Puri Beach. The art of making sculptures in the sand started a few years back by a local college dropout Sudarshan Patnaik is now an acclaimed art form at the golden beach of Puri. Sudarshan Patnaik has now become an internationally renowned artist. You can see the enthusiastic artists making sculptures of various personas, events or creating awareness about environment or social causes all on the sands. The gallery of sand art on the beach can be observed by any one in the afternoons. The timings are from 4-6 P.M. If you are keen to learn this interesting art form you can enroll at Golden Sand Art Institute an open air institute in Puri Beach located behind Mayfair Hotel. A basic 7-10 days familiarization course is available to the tourists can take.
Splurge on the Sweets: If you are a sweet aficionado then Puri is the right place to be. Puri boasts of some fine sweets like Khira, Rasagolla/Rasgulla, Gaja and Chanapora. There are plenty of sweet shops in and around Puri selling these stuffs.
Enjoy the sunrise and sunset: Puri may lack the sophistication of the Kerala or Goa beaches but never the less is an interesting place with huge number of visaitors thronging the beaches all the year round. However, enjoying the sunrise and sunset remains one of the best thing to do in Puri. All you have to do is get up early around quarter to 5 will do and enjoy the warm sunrise over the sea. Then have a dip in the sea and enjoy your time. Same holds true for sunset also. Place yourself in a vantage position and observe the sun going down and finally disappearing into the sea.
Take great snaps of the temple: As photography is prohibited inside the Jagannatha temple, some intelligent guys have come out with a brilliant idea. There is a library called Raghumandan Library located opposite the main entrance of the Temple on the Grand Road. This library has an open verandah up some stairs. From there you can have a majestic view of the temple. This viewing opportunity is off course not free and you have to shell out some donation.
Buy Souvenirs: Puri offers little knickknacks that you can take home as souvenirs. Stalls selling various things can be found outside the Jagannath Temple and all the way down Grand Road. The small but colourful figures of Jagannath, together with his brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra is quite appealing because of their unique shape and appearance. Then there are the Patta Chitra and the sambalpuri and Katki saris. Also between Puri and Bhubaneshwar a village called Pipili also offers shopaholics especially women to have a field day.
Take a safari at Nandankanan zoo and Wildlife Park: Your visit to the Puri can be termed as incomplete if you do not visit the Nandankan zoo and National park. You can enjoy the experience of seeing these animals in almost natural habitats by undertaking exciting White Tiger Safari and Lion safari in specially protected battery operated zero pollution buses.
The Puri Beach Festival: Puri Beach Festival is a must attend for all fun loving people. Held every November the festival is a celebration of the spirit of Orissa. From traditional cultural shows to fashion events and rock shows Puri Beach festival caters to every type of sensibilities.
Take a tour of Ashramas and Mathas: If you have some time in your hand then hire a cycle rickshaw or an auto rickshaw and ask him to take you to various important Ashrams and Mathas of Puri. Puri due to its spiritual appeal has been a favourite of ascetics who made it their sadhna bhumi. So you can visit the Sankaracharya Pith, Sri Chaitanya Math, Bharat Sevasram Sangha Ramkrishna Mission etc to spend some time solemnly. Undertake these visits no matter if you are not much into religion.