Puri, the spiritual capital of Odisha is considered as a major fulcrum of pilgrimage in India. As a tourism center, Puri is famous for its historic antiquities, religious sanctuaries, architectural grandeur, seascape beauty and moderate climate. Being a coastal district of Odisha, it is situated near Bay of Bengal. Its golden beaches are another attraction for world over tourists. Puri is a rich depository of attractions for its visitors from the 3rd Century BC. Even today it does not loses its charm. We can say now it is becoming a major visiting destination from both tourism and religious point of view. The city is successfully entered its name in world map of tourism for its ancient Kalinga architecture and as a fourth Dham of Hindus. This hub of attractions include unique monuments like those of Lord Jagannath temple, the Sun God at Konark are famous in the world. It has the Chilika Lake one of the largest brackish water lakes in India that holds a picturesque Seascape beauty. It offers an ideal resort for birds which migrate from different parts of the continent. By virtue of its geographical location, the climate of Puri and its safe beaches are welcoming world over guests throughout the year.
Raghurajpur is 12Km from Puri on Bhubaneswar road in NH-203, near Chandanpur. Raghurajpur - the artisans' village, is a living museum itself. Every household has a painter and can show you lavishly painted, the age-old tradition paintings on Canvas, Silk (Tassar) and other varieties like Pattachitra, Papiermache, Masks, Stone Idols, Sculptures, Wooden Idols, Toys and many more.
The recently drawn mural paintings on the house walls are a step forward to make impression about survival of the past glory. One can contact any house in this village for the painting. The village ambience is also heart touching. This is a Heritage Craft Village of Odisha.
At a distance of 17 Km from Puri, ahead of Chandanpur, Sakhigopal-also known as Sakhigopal Satyabadi is famous for the shrine of Lord Krishna. Although the Sakhigopal temple was built during the 19th century, the legend has it that the Krishna image was brought here by King Prataprudra Dev after his victory over Kanchi (South India).
The life-size image is standing with flute and Radha is standing on the left side. The images are very beautiful and impressive. The temple is just like a miniature temple of the Lord Jagannath. Sakhigopal is also important as it was one of the educational centres during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Bakulabana (Open air school of early part of 20th century AD) still exists just behind the Sakhigopal Temple. From here, one can visit the adjoining areas. This is for those inquisitive visitors who are interested in temples and rural culture. The place, like Biswanath Hill for Biswanath Siva, which is on the top of the Hill, near Delanga, is 10 Km away from Sakhigopal.
There is another village known as Barala (6 Km) which is famous for Balunkeswar Siva Temple, and which has a unique design with sanctum, Jagamohana and Natamndap. The premises have about 25 small shrines which enshrine a host of images of Durga, Khshetrapala, Vairabi Annapurna, Ardhanariswara, Damodara, Gopal, Narasimha, Ambika, and Parswanath (Jain) images.
Futher ahead on the National highway 40 Km from Puri another craft village awaits for you known as Pipili. This ancient land is famous for its Applique work. One can find a series of shops decorated with many applique works with bright colors. The varieties are like Umbrellas, Lamps Shades, Wall Cloths, Table Covers, Sofa Covers, Children Cloths, Bed Covers and many more. These are prepared by skilled craft persons, perhaps, a remnant of Mughal days. People love to see the varieties they even like to purchase the handicrafts.
From Pipili one can straight way proceed to Dhauli, an important historical site famous for Shanti stupa and Asokan Rock Edicts on a Hillock. It is said that the famous Kalinga War was fought here during the 3rd century BC. It is also a Buddhist site and many archaeologist relics are discovered here. It is only six kilometer away from Bhubaneswar.
From Puri, one can visit the World Heritage Monument-Konark Temple, 35 Km on the Marine Drive. Konark One can enjoy the natural beauty of the Marine Drive Konark while driving. On the way, there are a few scenic spots with Temple, like Beleswar (14 Km) and Ramachandi. While driving from Puri, you can cross Toshali Sand Resorts, a luxurious hotel. On approaching Konark, one can see the beauty of the sea at Chandrabhaga, which is regarded as Tirtha also. Here, sunrise is very beautiful and enchanting. This is 3 km away from Konark.
Now you can enter in the marvels of time and space, the elegant stone house of art and architecture the Sun Temple of Konark. The entrance ticket may be purchased (Rs 5/- per Indians and US for foreigners) from ASI ticket Booth.
Konark since ancient times is a celebrated center for Sun worship. Konark as ArkaKshetra finds mention in SambhaPuran. Sambha, the son of Sri Krishna as the Puranic story goes, worshiped the Sun here and installed the image and got cured from Leprosy. It has a long tradition of Sun worship interwoven with many legends and stories.
Satapada is a lake side resort located on the southeast side of Chilika lagoon which is the largest brackish water lake in Asia. 50 kilometers From Puri, on the road leading to land's end you find Satapada. A tiny cluster of seven islands ‘Sata’ means seven and ‘Pada’ means village. This is where the lake meets the Bay of Bengal.
Chilika covers an area of 1,165 square Kilometers over the district of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam. Chilika is home to more than a hundred species of fish and dolphins. With the onset of winter, birds begin to arrive in Chilika.
The much famous Temple Chariot Festival of Lord Jagannath, takes place in Puri. Jagannath Rath Yatra In this festival the temple images are carried out of the temple to the street in three huge chariots in the name of Nandighosha for Lord Jagannath, Taladhwaja for Lord Balabhadra and Darpadalana for Goddess Subhadra. The chariots are pulled by devotees till the Gundicha temple which is believed as Lord's aunt house and three lords stays there for nine days. Nine days later, the journey is repeated in the opposite direction.
The most important sanctuary of the Lord Jagannath is the Gundicha Temple. The abode to Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. Except for these few days, it is unoccupied. But there is a small establishment of servants by whom it is regularly maintained. It is situated at the other end of the great highway (Badadanda).
The distance between the gates of Jagannath Temple and the Gundicha Temple is exactly 2,688.0696 meters (8327 feet). The temple is surrounded by a wall and stands in the middle of garden. It consists of four pars connected with kitchen rooms, by a narrow passage. The tower, a construction of Pidha type, is 75 feet high with a base of 55 feet by 46 feet outside, and 36 feet 8inches by 27 feet inside.
All the four structures (Vimana, Jagamohan, Natamandap and Bhogamandap) bear the traces of several plastering and are carved in places with obscene figures in mortar. There is a plain raised seat, 4 feet high and 19 feet long, made of chlorite and this is called the Ratnavedi the throne on which the images are placed when brought to the temple.
The eight Chandis collectively called Astachandi are Bata Mangala, Bimala, Sarvamangal, Ardhasani, Alamba, Dakshinakalika, Marichikaand Harachandi.Astachandi Temple.
This is the famous Siva temple of Puri, located about one kilometer away from the Jagannath Temple, Loknath Temple towards the western end. There is a popular Loknath Temple belief that Lord Ram had installed this lingam with a Lauka or Pumpkin. The Temple was build during 10th-11th century AD. The devotees come here to see Lord Lokanath to be cured from any kind of disease.
There are certain festivals observed in this temple, out of which ‘Saranti-Somobar-mela’ is the important one. There is a stream on the head of the Sivalinga playing the role of the Ganges, and the lingait self remains under the water.
The flowers, sandal paste, Bilva-patra etc offered to the God remain decomposed in the water emitting a special smell. People take it as Prasad to be cured from the disease that they suffered for. The festival of Siva Ratri is observed in the temple of Lokanath with great devotion. A meeting of Siva and Vishnu takes place on the day.
The Chakratirtha, a small and unprotected pool, is in the south-east of Jagannath Temple, on the sea beach of popularly known as City Road heading towards Pentha Kata - the fisherman village. It is evidently a part of the old mouth of the Balagandi stream that flowed across the Badadanda to the sea. The place is known as Bankimuhana. Nearby is the temple of Chaitanya called Sunar-Gouranga. It is place largely visited by the pilgrims.
Towards the northern side of the temple of Sunar-Gouranga is the temple of Chakranarayana. The image of Lakshmi-Narasimha is worshiped here.
At the distance of about 30 meters to the west of the Chakranarayan temple, Daria Mahabir is a small temple dedicated to Hanuman. He is also known as Bedi Hanuman.
On the way to Gundicha temple, Ardhasani is a small temple dedicated to the goddess of that name. She is also known as Mausi Maa (Mother's sister) of Lord Jagannath.
At a distance of about half a mile (804.672 meters), to the west of Gundicha Temple, there is a small temple dedicated to Siddha Hanuman. It is believed that Tulasi Das resided at this place during his stay at Puri. It is a beautiful spot for picnic.
This is again a temple of 11-11th Century AD. Located on the extreme end of Harichandi Street. Jameswara Temple it houses Jameswara Siva, who protects this Jameswara Temple holy land from the influence of Yama. On the other hand, it is known as Yamanaka Tirtha. Again this temple is one of the historical evidences, if analyzed, can get a lot of evidence of the culture of Puri. Besides, there are many religious shrines and sanctuaries found in each and every street of Puri. There are Ashrams of saints like Pandu, Angira, Bhrigu and Nigamananda and others also found in the different areas.
Alabukeswara is a Saiva shrine situated to the west of the Yameswara. It is spoken of in high terms by the Kapila Sahinta for making barren women fruitful.
Kapalamochana is a small Saiva temple in the immediate neighborhood of the Alabukeswara in the Manikarnika Sahi. The sacred Kapalamochana Temple pool of Manikarnika is also located here.
The temple is situated towards the south-eastern side of the Lord Jagannath Temple on Balisahi. Daksinakali Temple Puranic tradition says that in Sriksetra or Daksinakali Temple Puri, Sri Jagannath is regarded as Daksinakalika. The deity is enshrined in a modern temple at a higher raised platform. The temple is facing to east and consists of a vimana and a Jagamohana.
The deity is four-armed and seated on a corpse. She is shown as drinking blood, with a dagger and holding severed head in two of her hands. It is believed that Daksinakalika is the guardian of the kitchen of the Lord Jagannath Temple.
These shrines are there in the old palace of Gajapati Kings of Puri. Now the historical Royal Palace is situated in the Grand Trunk Road Syamakali Temple (Bada danda) of Puri. Syamakali Temple This is a new place. The old palace was there in Bali Sahi. From the Southern door of the Lord Jagannath Temple, one can go to this place.
There is a ruined temple of the ‘Dasavatara’ of Vishnu near the Gundicha temple. This is the place where the KabiJayadev--the author of Gitagovindam stayed. Being inspired with the 10 incarnations of Vishnu, he wrote Dasavatara Strotra in his famous work Gita Govindam.
This temple is situated on the embankment of a big sacred pond--MarkandeyaSoravara. This reminds us of the similar temple build at Dasasvamedha Ghat of Yajpur built in the 10th century by the Somavamsi Kings. Brahmi, Maheswari, Andri, Kaumari, Vaisnavi, Varahi and Camanda are known as the seven mother Goddesses.
Sometimes, Narasimha replaces Vaisnavi a female from the man-lion incarnation of the Lord Vishnu. However, the shrine of the seven mother goddess at the pond Markanda proves very well that once upon a time Puri was a bonafide SaktaPitha and Goddess Vimala was the presiding deity of this pitha.
The three chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra start from the Singha Dwara of the Temple of Jagannath and reach Gundicha Temple, at the other end of the Bada Danda. In between Gundicha Temple and Singha Dwara there comes the shrine of the Goddess, Ardhamsini or Ardhasini, popularly known as Mousima (aunt) of Jagannath where the Lord takes a bhoga of ‘Podapitha’ a special cake. It is stated in Skanda Purana, VaisanavaKnadha that during the deluge, when the sea over flooded Puri, this goddess drank half of the flood water and saved the town.
Chhatia Bata is famous Jagannath temple known for saint Hadi Das. There is an ancient banian tree and is popularly known as Chhatiabata. The grave of the famous saint Hadi Das lies here within its enclosure bounded by walls.