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There would be hardly any Indians who wouldn’t have heard the name of Puri. Situated in Odisha state, Puri is a city and a municipality which lies on the eastern side of India. Approximately 60 km away from the state capital – Bhubaneswar, this city is present on the Bay of Bengal and is even the headquarter of the district Puri.
Puri is one of the authentic and original pilgrimages from the extremely popular Char Dham of the Hindus. Although the city has got several names right from the ancient times till now, however, this city is popularly known as Sri Jagannatha Dharma across the country. The local people call it ‘Sri Kshetra’ and has named the famous temple of Lord Jagannatha as ‘Badedeula.’
Right from the 4th century AD to the beginning of the 19th century, Puri and its famous Jagannath temple saw invasions eighteen times by Muslim and Hindu rulers. The primary objective of this invasion was always about burgling the treasure present behind the sturdy walls of the temple. From 1803, Puri and the significant temple were a major part of the Britisher's reign. However, it ended the moment India got its independence in 1947.
Talking about the famous things in this city, it would be a bit difficult to move on without mentioning a brief history of the Jagannatha Temple, isn’t it? And surely, you would all want to know more about it. After all, that’s how enchanting it is. Built in the style of Kalinga, the tower of this temple, along with a spire, upsurges to 50 m of height. Above the tower, there is a flag unfurling, which is fixed over a wheel. And interestingly, the temple increases to 214 feet in height above the road level. In four cardinal directions, there are four different gates. Every gate is famous and has their own names. The eastern one is known as Singhadwara (Lions Gate). The southern gate is called Ashwa Dwara (Horse Gate), the western gate is famous as the Khanja Gate or Vyaghra Dwara (Tigers Gate). And lastly, the northern one is known as Hathi Dwara (Elephant Gate).
These four gates signify four essential principles of Jnana (knowledge), Dharma (right conduct), Vairagya (renunciation), and Aishwarya (prosperity). These gates have been crowned with structures built in pyramid shapes. In front of the Singhadwara, there is a pillar embedded with stone, known as Aruna Stambha. This pillar has been shifted here from the Konark Sun Temple.
Although affairs and the reality of princely states have long gone from the country, the ceremonial duties of this Jagannathan temple are still performed by the inheritors of the Gajapati Dynasty of Khurda. Not just for this temple, but Puri is also well-known for several religious monasteries and mathas of Hindus.
Another famous landmark in Puri is the Pancha Tirtha. Hindus believe bathing here to be momentous so as to complete the journey to Puri. These five holy water bodies are known as the Rohini Kunda, the Indradyumana Tank, the Swetaganga Tank, the Markandeya, and the Mahodadho, which is also known as the Bay of Bengal.
If you are on a visit to Puri, you can’t miss out on Gundicha Temple. Standing right in the middle of an enchanting garden, this place is also famous as the Garden House of Jagannatha or God’s Summer Garden Retreat. Approximately at a distance of 3 km from the Jagannatha Temple, this garden has been circumscribed by compound walls from each side. If legends are to be believed, Gundicha was the companion of Kind Indradyumna, who got the Jagannathan Temple built originally. Though the temple remains vacant for the entire year, however, when it comes to the Ratha Yatra of nine days, you can expect a sea of people all around.
The trio of the Jagannathan Temple is usually worshipped in the shrine of the temple, however, there is a time in a year when they come out on the streets. That’s what is called the famous Ratha Yatra, the journey of chariots. During the Asadha month, which is usually June or July, the triad is brought on the primary street of the city, known as Bada Danda. From there, they cover a distance of almost 3 km and are taken in enormous chariots to the Shri Gundicha Temple.
According to the history, this Ratha Yatra was commenced by the presiding Ganga dynasty during 1150 AD after the temple was built. This Ratha Yatra is also known as Ghosha Yatra and Shri Gundicha Yatra. It provides an opportunity for the public to seek the blessings of the lord on the street itself, which is a major attraction for pilgrims from across the world. It is something worth cherishing forever.
Ratha Yatra is a well-celebrated festival for this city. Apart from this, there are several other occasions that Puri celebrates, like Chhera Pahara, Chandan Yatra, Snana Yatra, Anasara/ Anavasara, Naba Kalebara, Suna Besha, Niladri Bije, Sahi Yatra, and Samudra Aarti.
The list of major attractions in Puri also includes Swargadwar, Ballighai Beach, District Museum, and Raghunandan Library. Once stepped inside the city, you surely wouldn’t be able to restrict indulging yourself into the environment and culture that Puri has to provide.
When talking about the famed city of Puri, do you think we can do apart from the famous Khaja sweet and their enchanting crafts popular worldwide? There are several items that you can take along as a memory whenever you visit Puri.
For those who always wished to visit this place but couldn’t, SaleBhai is here to help. You can order anything you want - chhena gaja from their famous Kakatua shop, a stunning replica of the giant wheel at the Sun Temple, or the beautiful stone statue of Buddha’s head carved out of red stone. Not just that, you can even buy prasad from the Jagannathan Temple and have the most pious and spiritually uplifting experience ever. Wonderful, isn’t it?
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