Location : On eastern coast of orissa a bear shaped littoral strip of land overlooking the bay of bengal with fertile alluvial plains to the northwest the stunning lagoon of chilika to the south west and the state capital bhubaneshwar to the north .
Distances : 478 km SW of kolkatta , 56 km of bhubaneshwar , 81 km S of cuttack , 32 km sw of konark .
Route From Bhuneshwar : NH 203 to Puri
As the sun rises over the boundless bay of bengal the massive stretch of sea by the sacred city of puri vest clad fisherman toss their study dinghies onto the choppy waters . The radiant star , unburdened by the tasks of the day spares a red smile for you . Patitapaban the sacred flag atop teh jaganath temple flutters in the robust morning breeze . The wide bada danda the road which leads uoto the majestic temple provides a view of the grandness of scale and proportion that typifies puri . This is also the path by nirvana where the chariots of the much loved divine sibling jagannath , subhadra and balabhadra roil down in the famous annual rath yatra which inspires awe and draws tumultuous crowds . Central to the town the old lanes near jaganath temple give an indication of how everything grew around this magnificient edifice . In puri everything has to be big . The main road is called bada danda or grand road , the sea is called mahodadhi or the widest ocean the bhog is called mahaprasad or the great prasad . Is it any wonder then that the lord of the universe jagannath presides here ?
An orissa style temple of awesome grandeur the shrine to jaganath stands on raised platform and soars to a height of 65 m dominating the landscape for miles around . The temple is surrounded by two enclosures the first of which is 20 ft high and measures 652 ft by 630 ft . In front of the main gate is a majestic 11 m high 16 sided monolithic pillar . Originally this pillar stood in front of the famous sun temple at konark and was bought here in 18th century. This is part of aruna stambh ( 34 ft high ) a pillar of black granite that forms the base of garuda , lord vishnu ‘s carrier . The main gate guarded by two lions is known as singha dwar ( the lions gate ) . Towards the eastern side connecting the outer enclosures to the inner enclosure is the baisi pahach a sacred flight of 22 steps ( only 17 are left now ) . Parents bring their children and make them roll slowly over the steps from top to bottom in the expectation of spiritual bliss . At the 16 pillared mukti mandap located in front of the southern gate of the temple priests of puri 24 sasanas ( a collective regional authority divided into ancient administrative divisions hold theological discussions. At the end of the steps turn left to the ganesha temple situated at the foot of kalpavat a very old banyan tree . Behind it is the rohini kund a water trough. Legend has it that a crow which was a great devotee of jaganath would sit on a branch above the water and devotees noticed the suddenly had four feet instead of two . Her devotion was acknowledged and she was named kaka bhusundi the rohini kund is also known by this name . Visitors usually throw a coin into the water as homage to her. There are nearly 30 shrines around the main temple seen when according to established practice the pilgrims circumambulates the main temple . There is no escaping the pandas who try to persuade pilgrims to engage them for various services along the way . If the visitor has very little time he may visit at least the three temple’s to ganesha vimala and lakshmi. The tantric shrine of goddess vimala is located in south western corner of the inner compound. The four armed lac deity holds a rosary and a kalasa ( jar ) .There is some controversy over what she holds in her upper hand . It is variously stated to be a human figure a naga woman a noose or none of these . After offering bhog to jaganath it is again offered to vimala . The goddess sleeps after the supreme lord does . When jaganath remains away from the temple during rath yatra it is vimala who remains sleepless guarding his abode . In the garbgriha seated upon the ratna simhasan a 4 foot high throne are the enchanting wooden images of jaganath his sister subhadra and brother balabhadra and the goddess lakshmi and saraswati. There are many times during the day after the bhog has been offered and the deities are being decked with flowers when devotees are allowed to go up to right up to seat of the deities. It is blessed to be here when this is happening which is not always possible as the ritual timings are not all that fixed . Jaganath sits on the right up to the seat of deities. It is blessed to be here when this is happening which is not always possible as the rituals timings are not fixed. Jaganath sits on the right with elder brother balabhadra to the left and little sister subhadra in the middle . They are like human siblings- balabhadra is a stickler for principles, subhadra is pampered sister having a way and jaganath in krishna avatar is the loving manipulator and all knowing guide. There is an immediacy about their divinity they are not sacred to the point of being out of reach and their half finished less than perfect physical appearance and humanised rituals make devotees feel an immediate communion . Swargadwar ( gateway to heaven ) is the stretch of sea to the south of the temple where a dip in sacred waters is said to open doors to heaven . It is believed that the wood from which the three main deities at the temple have been carved floated to the beach at swargadwar . And it is here that shri chaitanya mahaprabhu merged into the sea and into brahma . On the second day of the bright fortnight of asadha ( jun -jul ) nearly a million devotees gather to participate in jaganath rath yatra one of the grandest festivals in the world. Three separate chariots are built every year for lord jaganath hid brother balabhadra and sister subhadra . Jaganath car is the largest with 16 wheels and is called nandigosh . Subhadra comes next riding in her 12 wheeled padmadhwaja driven by her husband arjuna himself . Balabhadra’s 14 wheeled chariot is called taladgwaja .Since only hindus are allowed inside the temple to jaganath it is believed that the nine days of the rath yatra are an opportunity for people of other faiths to come close and even touch the lord when he is in the chariot. The rath yatra is also known as gundicha yatra after the queen who interrupted the making of deities. The chariots remain at the gundicha temple a kilometer away away from the jaganath temple for seven days . This is a golden opportunity for devotees to clamber up the huge chariots see the gods at close quarters and even touch them . The fortunate are even able to see the deities in suna bhesa ( covered in exquisite gold jewelry ) The fervor of the millions of the faithful is almost a physical force . It is as as the gods have happily and indulgently given themselves over completely to their devotees. The best place to see the chariots is from the roof of the raghunandan library in front of the temple or by buying tickets from any of the monasteries or maths around the temple they make seating arrangements on their balconies . Location : At one end of the arterial bada danda that bisects the city 2 kms north of the railway station Timings : 5:30 am -10 pm except between 3 and 4 pm when the deities are offered bhog . Related Info : Devotees who arrive at 5:30 am can hear the loud call of the temple priest to inform the lord of their ( the devotees ) arrival. The ideal time to visit is between 6 and 7 am when deities are dressed up by priests and the astrologer reads out the position of the stars and planets to arrive at the auspicious moments for the days ritual . Pilgrims have close access to the images and can touch the bejeweled throne though not the deities. The temple remains open but main sanctum is closed during rath yatra ( jun jul ) when the deities make their annual sojourn to mausi ma temple . The bhog in jaganath temple is without parallel. Only hindus are allowed inside the temple . However non hindus can have a fair view of the inside of the temple from the roof of the nearby raghunandan library opposite the main gate of the shrine ( ₹ 20 ) Cameras , caps mobile phones and leather items like belts are not allowed inside the temple.
Gundicha Temple : A major part of this temple associated with queen gundicha was built during the 16th and 17th centuries. It is set in a compound with two encircling walls which are adorned with murals and paintings .Unusually it is crowned by a structure akin to a dome and vishnu sudarshan chakra rests on the top . A beautiful garuda idol adorns the eastern most corner of the temple . The jaganath rath yatra arrives and stays here for seven days . The pious believe that a sight of the lord here is equal to a thousand visits to the main temple . This is also considered to be the birthplace of sita consort of rama . The gundicha temple has two gateaways one for jaganath’s entry and the other for his exit . In front of the temple is a stretch of land known as saradhabali or the sand of divine love . It is so named because devotees flock around jaganath out of sheer love and devotion. Location : 1.5 km north east of jaganath temple . Timing : 6am -3 pm , 4 -10 pm .
Mausi Ma Temple : On his way back from the gundicha temple at the end of the rath yatra jaganath is offered podapitha a fire baked delicious at this small white washed temple for goddess ardhasani or mausi ma . The legend goes that the goddess drank half the waters of the pralaya ( the apocalyptic deluge ) thus saving other temple’s. Location: At the opposite end of the bada danda Timing : 6am -3 pm , 4 -10 pm .
Narendra Tank : A bath in this tank ( 254 m by 266 m ) is said to purify one’s soul . An island in the middle has a small temple . It is connected to the south Bank by a bridge. During the annual chandan yatra ( apr may ) , madana mohan the representative deity of lord jaganath is bought to the temple for 21 days and a beautiful float festival is organized then .Location : Just over a kilometer to the north of the jaganath temple Timing : 6am -3 pm , 4 -10 pm .
Loknath Temple : The lingam of loknath remains under water in a small square vat at this shrine. It is fed by a natural spring from the nearby parvati tank . On the night of shivaratri all the water is bailed out to make the top of the lingam visible to worshippers. Location: Approx 3 kms from main temple on puris western outskirts. Timing : Timing : 6am -3 pm , 4 -10 pm .