Jagannath Temple Puri

About The Temple

About Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa

The Jagannath temple is situated on the Bay of Bengal coast on the Eastern coast of the Indian peninsula. It is only 60 Km to the south of Bhubaneswar, the capital city of the state of Orissa in India. Thousands of devotees who follow the Vaishnava religious traditions come to worship Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra at this temple every year. The temple was built in the 12th century by Raja Anantavarman Chodaganga Dev in dedication to Lord Jagannath or Lord Krishna, who is revered as the Lord of the whole universe. The temple is one of the largest temples in Orissa and is famous all over India and the world.

Spiritual and cultural significance

It is one of the four Dhams or holy places of pilgrimage namely, Badrinath in the North, Rameswaram in the south, Dwarka in the West and jagannath puri in the East. This holy place has been visited by the famous Indian Acharyas like Madhvacharya, Adi Shankara, Guru Nanak, Kabir, Tulsidas, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and others through the ages. The three deities made of wood are considered as the Tirathas by the Jains who think that the assimilation of three powers could lead to Moksha. It is said that a fusion of the local Tribal culture and the Hindu culture consisting of Shaktism, Saivism. Jainism and Vaishnavism have occurred in this holy place.

Main deities of the temple

Lord Jagannath is present everywhere along with Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra. They are the three main deities who are placed on the Ratnavedi and worshipped in the inner sanctum of the temple. The other deities present there are Sridevi, Vishwadhatri and Madanmohan. The deities are made from wood of the holy Neem tree which is known as Daru Brahma. Different dresses and jewelry adorn the gods and goddesses during various worship rituals and festivals. It is believed that the worship of deities began in the tribal shrines a long time ago.

Other temples and shrines

There are various other temples situated inside the main puri jagannath temple complex. The Vimala Temple, the Mahalakshmi temple, the Kanchi Ganesh temple are located here. Food that is offered to Lord Jagannath has to be offered to Goddess Vimala to turn it into Mahaprasad. It is said that Goddess Mahalakshmi supervises the preparation of offering, also known as Naivedya that is given to Lord Jagannath. The Kanchi Ganesh temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesh. Other than these temples, there are shrines dedicated to the gods Surya, Bhuvaneshwari, Saraswati, Rama, Narasimha, Eshaneshwara and Hanuman.

Worshipping and Rituals

The devotees worship Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra in the inner sanctum of the temple. But once in a year, during June and July, the gods and goddess are brought out onto the streets of Puri so that the people can have darshana of them. This festival is called the Rath Yatra when gods and goddesses travel in huge wooden chariots pulled by hundreds of devotees. Other festivals and rituals include Chandan Yatra, Snana Purnima, Anavasara, Nava Kalevara, Niladri Bije, Gupta Gundicha, which involve the deities in various activities. Pilgrims and devotees from all over the country assemble near the temple to see and join the festivities.

How To Reach

At the heart of Puri is the jagannath temple, which is accessible from all directions and cities of the state and the country. Puri can be reached by air, rail and road.

 

  • By air – Puri does not have any airport of its own. The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar 60 kilometers away. This airport is not an international airport and is serviced by domestic flights from other main cities of the country. Pilgrims from foreign countries have to catch a flight to the Kolkata International Airport and then a domestic flight to Bhubaneswar. From Bhubaneswar, they can catch a train to Puri or take a local taxi to the city.
  • By rail – Puri is a terminal station on the South Eastern rail map. There are various super fast trains and express trains that connect it with the cities of Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and many more.
  • By road – Direct private and public bus services connect Kolkata, which is 450 km from Puri, and Vijayawada, which is approximately 780 km from Puri. These buses leave the Gundicha temple bus–stand of Puri at intervals of 10 to 15 minutes bound for other cities in the state. Similarly, minibuses connect the Jatiababa Chak bus-stand to Konark and other local places of interest. They leave at intervals of 20 to 30 minutes.

Pilgrims and devotees from all over the country come to Puri mostly by rail as there are a large number of trains that arrive here from all over the country every day. Private taxis are found in plenty in Puri for taking people to the nearby places of interest.

 

Nearby Attractions

There are many places of interest near the jagannath temple puri that should not be missed while visiting the city. You can visit the seaside and enjoy visiting various tourist spots. You can take note of them while visiting the temple. They are:

  • Chilika Lake – This is a very large lake situated Barkul only a few hours’ drive from Puri. It is connected to the sea at two places and is famous for migratory birds from different parts of the world and the Irrawaddy dolphins.
  • Konark Temple – Dedicated to the Sun God and located very near the seashore, it is a World Heritage site that is visited by hundreds of tourists all round the year.
  • Dhauli Giri – This is a temple dedicated the Maurya Emperor Asoka to all those who died in the Kalinga War. Saddened by the carnage and suffering caused to the people by the war, the emperor gave up a life of plenty and embraced Buddhism. Japanese monks built the huge white Shanti Stupa in the 1970s.
  • Udaigiri and Khandagiri – These are the retreats of Jain monks who lived and studied in chambers cut out from the hillside. The different caves of Udaigiri are named Rani Gumpha, Bagh Gumpha, Hati Gumpha, Chata Hati Gumpha, Ganesh Gumpha, etc.
  • Pipli – A village whose artisans are famous for their colorful appliqué dome on fabrics. The craft was initially used for decorating the insides of temples but has extended to articles of daily use such as bags, umbrellas, wall hangings and cushion covers.
  • Gopalpur-on-sea – A port used for trade with Indonesia in olden days has been converted into a tourist spot where cottages beside sea shore offer a beautiful view of the sunset.
  • Taptapni – Hot springs that attract a large number of tourists who bathe in the hot water smelling of sulphur coming out of a hill and getting collected in pools.

 

History Of Temple

As per the Puranas, the legend behind the puri jagannath temple says that a tribal chief of the Savar clan called Viswavasu was the first person who started the worship of Lord Jagannath in a secret place in the middle of a dense forest. When King Indrayumna located the site of the deity with the help of a Brahmin priest named Vidyapith, he married Viswavasu’s daughter to find the location. The king could not see the deity when he visited the site as it had been hidden in the sand. The king was fasting, and in his sleep, a celestial voice told him to make three idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra from the wood of a holy tree growing on the sands of seashore.

Creation of the temple and the deity

The king found the piece of wood. Vishwakarma appeared before the king and gave his impression as an artist how deities should look like and built a temple for them. Lord Vishnu himself donned the guise of a carpenter, and took on the job of carving out wood to make three idols. He did not want to be disturbed until his work was over. Two weeks later, the queen became too curious about the silence inside the temple and asked the king to open the door. Vishnu was annoyed at being disturbed, and left without finishing the hands of Lord Jagannath. A celestial voice instructed King Indrayumna to go ahead and install the idol that he crafted. Since the hands of the idol of Lord Jagannath were not finished, he does not have any hands. He can keep the whole world under his watchful eyes, though he does not have any hands.

Having a darshan

Earlier, non-Indian Hindus, whether practicing or not were not allowed inside the temple. This rule was changed when three devotees from Bali were not allowed inside the temple because they were not Indians. 90 percent of the people in Bali are Hindus. The incident brought a change to the law, and now non-Indian Hindus are being allowed to enter the temple and have a darshan of the deities.