Puri, situated on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, is one of the oldest cities in the Indian state of Orissa. A popular beach resort, Puri offers a unique experience of viewing sunset and sunrise from the beach.
Puri, also known as Jagannath Puri, Jagannath Dham, Niladri, Hilgiri, Hilachal Sankhakshetra, Srikehetra and Purushottam, is one of the most popular and most visited places in the country.
Puri is also famous for its annual Ratha Yatra, or "Festival of Chariots", when the deities Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra, are brought out of the temple, and placed in a chariot procession. This festival occurs on various dates of the Gregorian calendar, typically in the month of July.
The town is famous for its many Mathas (monasteries of the various Hindu sects). It also houses the relics of many Hindu Saints as traditionally it is seen as a holy place to die in or to be cremated. As a result, it has had a disproportionate number of widows. Like other old Hindu religious towns it has a lot of character that is difficult to be glimpsed or picked up on easily by a casual visitor.
In 1903, Sri Yukteswar established an ashram in the sea-side town of Puri, naming it "Kararashram". From two ashrams, Sri Yukteswar taught students, and began an organization named "Sadhu Sabha."
Being one of the four most visited Hindu religious places in India—known as Char Dhams—Puri is visited by people from all parts of the country as well as from outside India.
The Temple of Lord Jagannath, Puri
The temple is dedicated to Jagannath i.e. ‘Lord of the Universe’. The city itself is one of the four holiest places of India and a melting pot of all religious faiths. Innumerable pilgrims throng the city when the rath yatra (chariot festival) takes place in the month of June or July.The Temple of Lord Jagannath, Puri, built by Chodaganga Deva during the 12th century A.D., is the tallest temple in the state. A magnificent piece of monuments of the country, the temple is one of the most popular and most visited places in the state as well as in the country.
The traditional sheen of the town makes it shine amongst the other temple towns of the Eastern Golden triangle of India. The temple structure was first built in 10th century and then again in the 12th century by the ‘Ganga’ King ‘Choda Ganga Deva’.
Gundicha Mandir (Temple)
This temple, about 3km northeast of the Jagannatha temple, is the home of Lord Jagannatha for one week a year during the Ratha-Yatra festival. After this week He returns to His original temple. It is said that the wife of Indradyumna, the king who originally established the temple of Jagannatha, was known as Gundicha. The cleansing of the Gundicha temple takes place the day before the Ratha-Yatra festival and is elaborately described in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.
Non-Hindus can walk within the walls and see the beautiful garden, but they are not allowed in the temple building.
Among some of the other famous temples are: Sunaragauranga, Gundicha, Daria Mahabir, Tota Gopinatt and Lokanath.