The religious and holy land of the Lord of Universe- Puri is one of the most sought after destinations in South eastern part of India. Situated at a distance of about 60kms from Bhubaneshwar, the place is a great pilgrim destination as it is also one of the ''Char Dham'' that Hindus aspire to visit at least once in their lifetime. The holy temple of Lord Jaganath is the key attraction of this place apart from other temples, monuments and beaches. The popular Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra is a major attraction for tourists to come year after year to pull the royal chariots of the Lord. It is believed that this is the city of Lord''s aunt where he comes to get pampered by sweetmeats. The Mahaprasad or the holy food of the Lord comprises of 56 varieties of food and is a must have for the devotees. There are numerous festivals that are celebrated every year in the honour of the Lord of Universe and this place reaffirms the faith of the people in the almighty. It is also a multi cultural and
Puri is a destination well connected by all means of transport. The nearest airport is the Biju Patnaik airport in Bhubaneshwar connected by all the major cities of India. The city has its own railhead and is connected to Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and other key towns of the country. There are both national and state transport buses available from Bhubaneshwar to reach Puri.
While the Jagannath temple is the key attraction there are many Mathas, holy sites and beaches to see in Puri. The temple of Lord Jaganath and the famous Rath Yatra are the key reasons that attract millions of pilgrims to this holy destination every year. The Rath Yatra is an annual event which is celebrated in an extremely royal style every year. There are many other festivals like the Konark festival, Puri beach festival, Gundicha Utsav, Srisetra Mahotsav, Sahi Yatra that are also celebrated with much enthusiasm and gusto.
Jagannath Puri temple is not just famous for its religious reasons but is also an impressive piece of Kalinga architecture. The height of the temple is about 65 meters and is placed on an elevated platform. The history of the temple dates back to 12th century constructed by the king of Ganga dynasty on the seashores of Puri. It has been taken over by the Archeological Survey of India in 1975 and is being preserved as a monument of cultural heritage, historical and archeological importance.
The temple is protected by a fortified wall and a host of smaller shrines inside. The huge black pillar at the main entrance is called the Aruna stambh and the entrance is guarded by two lions and hence named the Singh Dwar. There are about 30 shrines surrounding the main temple out of which the most popular is the shrine of four armed Goddess Vimala who acts as the protector of the temple when Lord is away. In the main sanctum of the temple are the wooden idols of Lord and his siblings along with Lakshmi and Saraswati. Sister Subhadra stands in the centre while the elder brother Balabhadra is on the right and the Lord is on the left. One can also visit the Swargadwar whose entrance opens on the stretch of the sea and is believed to be the gateway to the heaven if you take a dip here.
The annual rath Yatra attracts lakhs of devotees who come to pull the three grand chariots of Lord and his siblings. It is believed that Lord returns to earth during this period. His chariot is the largest with 16 wheels and the yatra is a nine day affair halting at Gundicha temple and Mausima temple before returning to the main temple. It is a mesmerising view to see the idols covered in gold jewellery during Suna Bhesa. The non Hindus are not allowed to enter the main temple.
The other popular monuments include Gundicha Temple, Gundicha Temple, Shyamakali Temple, Daskhina Kali Mandir, Karar Ashram etc.
Gundicha temple is situated about 2kms away from the Jagannath temple and has a dome like structure crowned by the Vishnu Sudarshan. It has two gateways one for Lords entry and the other for exit as it is visited by the Lord during the Rath Yatra.
Dedicated to Goddess Ardhasini Mausina temple is another shrine visited by the Lord during the Rath yatra. The Goddess is believed to have drunk half the water that once flooded Puri. On his way back from Gundicha Mandir, the Lord and his brother and sister are offered Podapaitha here.
Narendra Tank is the hub of all action during the annual Chandan Yatra. The representational idol of Lord Jagannath is brought here for a float festival during the yatra.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva is the Loknath temple which is famous because the linga in this temple remains under water. The devotees carry the medicated offerings of flowers, herbs and sandalpaste offered to the Lord as they get decomposed.
The beach of Puri is one of the most sought after beaches in India. It also has religious significance as it is the city of Lord Jagannath and people come and take dip while visiting the place. The gloden sand of this beach forms an amazing sight during sunrise and sunset and the most famous of all is the Balighat beach about 8kms away from Puri.
Famous for its exquisite applique work is Pipli about 36kms away from Piuri. One can pick host of traditional items of applique from this small town like bed sheets, embroidered quits, purses, garments, umbrellas, etc.
The largets Brackrish Lake in Asia and the favourite spot of several migratory and aquatic birds is the Chilka Lake. One can spot the flamingoes at this lake. The Nalaban Island in the middle of this lake is a claasified bird sanctuary and also home to Irrawaddy Dolphins.