Puri Information

Puri Information

A heaven on earth is the common description of Puri. Both the devout and the pleasure-

seeker bestow such praise on the place. The worlds biggest Vishnu temple dividing the skyline through a host of smaller temples overlooking Puris wide, sprawling, clean, sunny, buoyant, and vibrant beach, which too is one of worlds finest of its kind are its chief attractions. Puri is also famous for the greatest of the temple festivals, the Rath Yatra or the Car Festival which falls in June-July.

According to tradition, Puri was originally a densely wooded hill inhabited by Sabaras, a pre-Aryan and pre-Dravidian tribe. Chodaganga Dev, the illustrious ruler of the Ganga dynasty, built the present Jagannath Temple in the twelfth century A.D. Kapilendra Dev, Purusottam Dev and Prataprudra Dev, all rulers of the Surya dynasty, left their distinctive marks on the history, art and culture of Puri. Jagannath worship flourished even during the Moghul and Maratha periods. The British occupied Puri in 1803 and soon took over the administration of the temple. Modern Puri--its hospitals, its government buildings, its light house, its schools and colleges, its beautiful villas and hotels along the sea front was built during the British rule.

Ai Tota (1.5 km)

Ai Tota is the place towards the left side of the Gundicha Temple where Chaitanya used to stay during Car Festivals.

Angira Bata (3.5 km)

On the east of the temple of Lord Jagannath can be seen a shady banyan tree known as Angira Bata surrounded by an old boundary wall. The place is associated with the legendary sages Angira.

Annapurna Theatre (3 km)

Murari Mishra records the first staging of his play at Puri sometime in the 9th century AD. Though the ancient stage is no longer existent, this seventy year old theatre house can still be seen at Puri.

Ardhasani (3 km)

About 3 km from the Jagannath temple, on the Grand Road, is a small white-washed temple for goddess Ardhasani or Mausi Ma. A Subhadra image is worshipped here. The Puranas describe how the goddess used to drink half of the flood water at the time of deluge, thus saving the creation. On his way back from the Gundicha Temple during the Car Festival, Jagannath is offered here a delicacy known as podapitha (fire-baked cake).

Asta Shambhu (4.5 km)

A small temple in Tiadi Sahi houses a cluster of eight Shiva lingas made of semi-precious stones which appear different in colour when looked at from different directions.

Atharanala (3 km)

A marvel of medieval Orissan architecture the Atharnala or the bridge with eighteen arches was built by Bhanu Deba of the Ganga dynasty in the thirteenth century. It is a ferruginous stone structure and is still used as the gateway to the holy city Puri. During the nineteenth century the British Government collected pilgrim taxes here detaining millions of eager devotees enroute for days together.

Aurobindo Dham (4 km)

This is a newly established institution which popularises the teachings of Sri Aurobindo, a twentieth century philosopher of India. It has a small library. Its impressive complex of buildings can be reached by going to the west from Swargadwar.

Bata Lokanath (5 km)

The impressive temple on the Swarga Dwar Road is dedicated to Lord Shiva. A beautiful Kali image is also worshipped in the near by place.

Batamangala (5 km)

At a distance of about three kilometre from Atharnala on the Puri-Bhubaneswar road is a small temple dedicated to goddess Batamangala. Pilgrims usually pray this goddess for safe journey to Puri.

Bauli Math (3.5 km)

The well dug by Guru Nanak popularly known as Dedhasur Bhai Bohu Kua is still to be seen here and this place, the Bauli Math is visited by the devotee round the year.

Bedi Mahavir (2.5 km)

A small sea-side temple containing the image of the monkey-god Hanuman, a devotee of Rama. The legend goes that once Hanuman went on a short visit to Ayodhya. In the meantime seawater entered the city, causing considerable damage. The devotees prayed to Jagannath who asked Hanuman to explain his absence. On hearing about Hanumans unscheduled visit to Ayodhya, Jagannath got his hands and feet tied with rope (bedi) and asked him to be vigilant on the seashore day and night. There is a popular belief that since then, the sea has not ventured into the city.

Bharat Sevashram (4 km)

This institution is situated near Swarga Dwar. It is a philanthropic organisation which does commendable work during the Car Festivals.

Bhrugu Ashram (3 km)

Bhrugu Ashram or Bhrugus hermitage is near Atharanala. It is associated with the sage Bhrugu.

Chakhi Khuntias House (4 km)

Chakhi Khuntia, a priest of Jagannath, fought the British during Indias First War of Independence in 1857. Khuntia was the family priest of Queen Laxmi Bai of Jhansi who led the heroic revolt against the British. His house is situated in Harachandi Sahi. His descendants still live here and a visit to the house can, however, be arranged through the people living there.

Chakra Tirtha (2 km)

This place on the seashore is believed to be the house of the father of Laxmi, the consort of Jagannath. A small but beautiful temple houses the images of Laxmi and Nrusimha. The belief goes that in ancient times a sacred log of wood came floating in the sea out of which the Jagannath triad were carved. To many, this is also the very spot where vishnu saved the elephant from the clutches of a cruel crocodile.

Chaturdham Veda Bhawan (4.5 km)

This is a school teaching the Vedas to the young. The students of this school recite the Vedas to the measured movement of hands, fingers and palms. The Yajna Vedi or the traditional vedic altar for burning sacrificial fire may also be seen by a visitor here.

Chudanga Sahi (3 km)

Though the sanctum sanctorum of the Jagannath temple was the cradle of Odissi dance and music, the singers, dancers (Maharis) and musicians used to reside in Chudanga Sahi, said to have seen established by Chodaganga Dev in the twelfth century AD.

Dasavatara Math (1.5 km)

Dasavatara means the ten incarnations of Vishnu, the significance of which is emphasised in the monastery. The place is dedicated to the memory of Jayadeva (twelfth century A.D.), the famous author of Gitagovindam. A quiet place in front of the Gundicha temple, it reverberates with activities during the Rath Yatra.

Dolavedi (3 km)

An open air museum Dola Vedi is at the northern end of Laxmi Bazar. An exquisitely carved black stone arch atop an equally beautiful altar is the main attraction of Dola Vedi. The miniature images of Jagannath are taken to this place on the fullmoon day of Falguna (March) and are placed in a swing to commemorate Krishnas sports with Radha at Brindaban.

Emar Math (3.5 km)

A prosperous monastery near the Lions Gate dedicated to the sacred memory of the saint-philosopher Ramanuja, an exponent of Vishishtadwaita Vedanta or qualified monism. The monastery has its famous Raghunandan Library containing many palmleaf manuscripts. A non-Hindu visitor can have a clear sight of the Jagannath temple complex by climbing a flight of steps and reaching the third floor. Permission for doing so, is, however, to be obtained from the library on any day of the week except on Sundays and other public holidays.

Gandhi Ghat (2.5 km)

A statue of Mahatma Gandhi installed near the Light House at the sea shore commemorates his associations with Puri. Gandhijis ashes as well as that of Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were immersed in the sea here. On his visit to Puri in the first half of the century the Mahatma wanted to take a band of his harijan followers to the Jagannath temple. But the orthodox priests objected to such entry. So Gandhi left Puri without entering the temple. His wife Kasturba and his Secretary Madev Desai went inside but had to face Gandhis displeasure immediately after.

Gangamata Math (4 km)

Situated on the bank of Sweta Ganga, this monastery is the place of Basudeva Sarvabhouma a famous philosopher who was an associate of Chaitanya.

Ghumusar Math (3 km)

Situated on the Marichikote Lane, this monastery is the place of Upendra Bhanja, the greatest medieval Oriya poet.

Girnarbant (4 km)

It is a beautiful place where lived a sadhu named Totapuri. This sadhu is believed to be the guru of Sri Ramakrishna, the great nationalist saint of Bengal who in his turn was also the teacher of Swami Vivekananda.

Gundicha Temple (1.5 km)

Gundicha Temple or the garden house of Jagannath is towards northeast direction of the Jagannath Temple. A major part of the present precinct was built during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The compound has two walls, one outer and another inner in the middle of which stands the main shrine. Unlike any other Orissan temple design it is almost a dome with Vishnus wheel on the top. The inner and parts of the outer walls are full of murals and paintings belonging to the sixteenth century. A beautiful Garuda idol adorns the eastern most corner of the temple. The images of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are annually taken in a chariot procession to the place. The Jagannath triad stay here for seven days. The pious believe that a sight of the Lord here is equal to thousand visits to the main Jagannath temple. Many devotees from North India consider this spot as the birth place of Sita, the consort of Rama. Gundicha temple has two gateway temples - one for Jagannaths entry and the other for his exist. In front of the latter one sees a stretch of land known as Saradhabali or the sand of divine love. It is so named because the devotees flock around Jagannath and his car here out of sheer love and devotion.

Guru Nanaks Places (3.5 km)

It is very near the sea on the way to Swargadwar from the Temple. It is believed that when Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, came to Puri he soon sat on the spot and was lost in mediatation in which state he remained for days together. The two disciples who accompanied him were starving. When the Gurus mediation came to an end, the disciples were extremely thirsty. But how to get fresh water on the sea shore ? The Guru dug the sand and fresh water gushed out immediately. The well dug by Guru Nanak, popularly known as Dedhasura Bhaibohu Kua, is still to be seen here and this place, the Bauli Math is visited by the devout round the year.

Governors House (2 km)

One of the most beautiful specimens of late nineteenth century British architecture, the Governors House on the seashore is an official bungalow. The President and Prime Minister of the country and other dignitaries normally stay in the building during their visits to Puri.

Holy Lakes

The city of Puri is famous for five holy lakes - Markanda (4 km), Shweta Ganga ( 4 km), Narendra (2.5 km), Indradyumna (2.5 km) and parvati Sagar (4.5 km). The first one is located in the north. The ancient Markandeshwar Shiva Temple situated on the bank of the lake makes Puri one of the fifty-two sacred Shiva places of the country. A few inscriptions found on the steps to the lake and the Markandeshwar Temple, are of great interest to historians. The second lake Shweta Ganga is towards the south of the Jagannath temple. Shweta Ganga means the White Ganga. It is believed that once in a year the blue water of the lake turns white when Ganga manifests hereself in the lake. The third lake Narendra is known to North Indians as the Chandan Talab. Here the Chandan Festival of Jagannath is held. Chaitanya, the great exponent of the cult of devotion, used to take his bath thinking the lake to be Krishnas Yamuna. The fourth lake Indradyumna is near Gundicha Temple. Numerous turtles living in the lake entertain the pilgrims. They are believed to be the very people who carried stones on their back for the construction of the Jagannath temple. The fifth lake Parvati Sagar is near the Lokanath Temple. Pilgrims enter the Shiva temple here after sprinkling water on their heads.

Jagannath Ballav Math (3 km)

Opposite the Municipal Market is situated Jagannath Ballav Math, a monastery which perpetuates the memory of Ray Ramananda, the administrator-turned saint of Orissa who lived during the sixteenth century. The garden behind the monastery building has a beautiful temple in the middle dedicated to Hanuman, the monkey-god who is believed to be protector of the trees and plants grown here.

Jagannath Temple Complex (3 km)

The Jagannath Temple Complex which spreads over an area of about 4,20,000 sq.ft. has four distinct sections - the outer section, the outer compound, the inner compound and the main temple. The outer section has four gateways and each such gateway has four temples. The eastern gate, known as the Lions Gate, has a black stone pillar in its front having the idol of Arun (Sun) on the top. This tall pillar which is about 12 metres in height is made out of a single block of stone. On entering the temple through the eastern gate or Lions Gate the visitor comes across the mural of Patitapabana, literally "Saviour of the Fallen". It is a representation of the Jagannath image.

Baisi Pahacha

This place on the seashore is believed to be the house of the father of Laxmi, the consort of Jagannath. A small but beautiful temple houses the images of Laxmi and Nrusimha. The belief goes that in ancient times a sacred log of wood came floating in the sea out of which the Jagannath triad were carved. To many, this is also the very spot where vishnu saved the elephant from the clutches of a cruel crocodile.

Festivals of Orissa

There is no better evidence for this religio-spiritual yearning in its popular form than the string of festivals that is spread over the year. As has been said earlier, Orissa is a confluence of the Aryan, Dravidian and Adivasi cultures all of which by the quest of the numinous.

Information of Pooja of Lord Jagannath puri

Konark Dance Festival

Described as a poem in stone, the Sun temple at Konark is the crowning glory of the temple architecture of Orissa. As a fitting tribute to the majestic monument, eminent classical dancers of India get together during the Konark Festival every year from 1st to 5th December to present live performances of their art. When the sun sets in the horizon and the stars appear in the sky, the open-air auditorium against the backdrop of the floodlit temple reverberates with the beats of Raga and Tala to fill the air. The classical extravaganza is a journey through ecstasy. The stage for the Konark Dance Festival 2001 was celebrated with a extravaganza of much admired Odissi, Bharatnatyam, Mohiniattam, Kathakali, Manipuri, Kathak and Chhow dances - a lavish feast for the eyes and ears.

Puri Beach Festival

The Puri Beach Festival is an out and out fun lovers fest. Conducted by the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Orissa (HRAO), the festival is a celebration of Orissa, in all its beauty, charm and fun-loving spirit. With events ranging from Fashion shows to rock shows, the Puri Beach festival delights visitors and locals alike. Held on the beautiful beach at Puri, it offers a unique opportunity for visitors to interact with the local populace and enjoy the many splendoured charms of Orissa. The Puri Beach Festival is co-sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, the Department of Tourism, Government of Orissa, Development Commissioner of Handicrafts and the Eastern Zonal Cultural Center, Calcutta.

Bali Yatra

To commemorate the glorious past of commercial voyages to the islands of Bali , Java and Sumatra by Orissan Traders , big fair called "bali Yatra" is held in Mahanadi River Bank at Cuttack on the full moon day of Kartik.

Dhanu Yatra

Dhanu Yatra relating to the episode of Lord Krishnas visit to Mathura witness the ceremony of Bow is colourfully observed at Bargarh a western Orissa District. The town of Baragarh becomes Mathura ,the river Jira becomes Yamuna , and village Amapalli on other bank of river becomes Gopa. Different acts of Puranic descriptions are performed in this festival.

Other Festivals

The Folk Tradition The festivals of the Adivasis are a part and parcel of their social life; they prepare a key to the appreciation of their beliefs in the supernatural spirits and their communal togetherness. The- same folk tradition and spirit are manifested through the numerous Vratas and Oshas, observed by the Hindus, the former having the authority of the scriptures and the latter being the product of social beliefs and practices, especially those observed by the women folk for the welfare and prosperity of their near and dear ones, for begetting sons, wishing long life of their children, recovery of their Own selves and their near and dear ones from ailments and obtaining salvation. They are associated: With the performance of rituals and recitation of a sacred verse tale connected with the occasion, usually elaborating the benefits accruing from the observance of the rites and punishments from the failure to do so. Most of these observances are marked by a spirit of sanctity even among the poorest folk. They clean up the premises, decorate their houses. Particularly the spot of worship with flowers and draw, in rice paste or multi-coloured powders, artistic designs on the floor and walls at the place.

Many of these festivals are held on the full moon and dark moon days thereby confirming the belief in the planets and stars as forces influencing human life.

The priests do not play ally part in the Vratas and Oshas; these are usually celebrated under the supervision and direction of women, which testifies to the simplicity, easy belief and tenderness characterising the folk or communal spirit. They help in augmenting the religious or spiritual life of the people enabling them to resist the temptations of the worldly spirit or materialistic way of life. The important Oshas are Jahni Osha, Bodhivamana Osha, Dutia Osha, Sasthi Osha, Khudurukuni Osha, Puajiuntia Osha, Kharkhari Osha, Dhananlanika Osha, Bhaijuntia, Nishamangalavarta Oshat and Kanjianala Osha. The important Vntiis are: Sudasa Vrata, Vinayaka Vrata, Rabinarayan Vrata, Sambaradasami Vrata, Somanath Vrata, Savitri Vrata, Nagarchuuthi and Ananta Vrata. Among them Puajuntia and Bhnijiolltia are observed: in the western region, Kharkhari in the southern region. Khudurukuni Osha which is observed by unmarried girls on the Sundays of the month of Bhadrab for the welfare of their brothers is observed in the coastal districts. Another Oriya Osha is Prathamastami the first eighth day of the month of Margasira on which a rite is held .for the long-life and prosperity of the eldest child who is offered a lighted lamp ovation by the senior Female relatives, mother, aunt, grand mother, etc. followed by elaborate rituals during which the Glory of Mahalakshmi is recited. Raja is another special Puri festivals celebrated by girls with eclat, It is observed for three consecutive days from the day preceding Jyestha Sankrati to the day following it during which Mother Earth is supposed to be in her menstrual period; it is thus a fertility rite.

The girls decked in their sartorial best away in swings and pray to Mother Earth for their welfare. It is one of the moat memorable festivals of rural Orissa along with Kumara Purnima which is held on the full-moon night of the month of Aswin, soon after Durga Puja. The latter is also celebrated by girls for the well-being of their brothers and for obtaining handsome. husbands. Makar Sankranti and Vishuva Sankranti are observed to celebrate the advent of Spring and the New Year according to the Indian almanac respectively.

Like Makar which is observed by the Adivasis and the Hindus alike though in different styles, Chaitra Parva (Chait Parab) is a popular folk festival observed all over Orissa. In western Orissa, the festival held in honour of Lord Siva is called Dandayatra. It is associated with a dance called dandanata commissioned by a household person with a wish, especially for a child. A group of 13 persons, led by their chief called pata bhoku, holding a danda or stick perform the dance. The stick symbolises Lord Siva as Ladudeswara (stick-shaped god). In the coastal region the festival held in honour of either Siva or Sakti is known as Jhamuyatra in which devotees perform penance like walking on fire or a bed of thorns.