What to See
Jagannath Temple: Dedicated to the Lord of the Universe, this famous temple is surrounded by a fortified wall and is visible for miles. Containing within it a large number of smaller shrines, the main sanctum houses the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. Right at the entrance is a huge black granite pillar, called the Aruna Stambh. The main entrance is guarded by two lions, hence giving it the name Singha Dwar. The main temple is flanked by almost 30 shrines, which can be visited when you circumambulate the main temple. Especially interesting is the shrine of the four-armed Goddesses Vimala, who acts protector of the Lord's temple when he is away. Enter the main sanctum and behold the wooden idols of the Lord and his siblings and Lakshmi and Saraswati, seated on a 4-feet throne.
Jagannath sits on the right with elder brother Balabhadra to the left and little sister Subhadra in the middle. Once the bhog has been offered to the Lord and he is being decked with flowers, devotees may actually go up to his seat. You would also visit the Swargadwar, which opens to a stretch of the sea, where a dip is believed to ensure heaven. Legends have it that the original idol of the temple was carved out of wood, which floated on this stretch. This temple is the hub of great activity during the annual Rath Yatra, when the Lord returns to his home on earth. Three great chariots are constructed, of which Lord Jagannath's chariot is the largest with 16 wheels. These chariots are pulled by devotees who come on lakhs for this auspicious occasion. The Rathas halt at Gundicha Temple and Mausima Temple before returning to the main temple after nine days. Especially try and watch the Suna Bhesa, when the idols are covered in gold jewellery!
When visiting the Jagannath Temple, you must partake your share of the chappan bhog mahaprasad (56 course meal) prepared for the Lord. And of course, not without visiting the holy kitchen which has a staggering 752 stoves fired by wood and manned by as many cooks! The daily menu of this includes dals, vegetable curries, rice and kheer. It is best to eat the bhog sitting on the floor, from plantain leaves, though you can also purchase it to carry home from the Ananda Bazaar nearby.
Open from: 5.30 am-10.00 pm (closed at 3.00 pm-4.00 pm for bhog) Note - Non-Hindus cannot enter the main temple, though a view of the inside can be had from the roof of the Raghunandan Library in front of the temple
Gundicha Mandir: Located 2 kms from the main Jagannath Temple, this temple is visited by the Lord and his siblings for 7 days during the Rath Yatra. The structure has a dome-like construction, crowned by the Vishnu's Sudarshan. The temple has two gateways - one for the lord's entry and one for his exit. Non Hindu's are not allowed within the main sanctum.
Open from: 6.00 am-3.00 pm, 4.00 pm-10.00 pm
Mausima Temple: Dedicated to Goddess Ardhasini who drank half the water that once flooded Puri, this shrine is visited by the Lord during Rath Yatra. On his way back from Gundicha Mandir, the Lord and his brother and sister are offered Podapaitha here.
Open from: 6.00 am-3.00 pm, 4.00 pm-10.00 pm
Narendra Tank: This tank is the hub of great activity during the annual Chandan Yatra. During this festival, the representational idol of Lord Jagannath is brought here for a float festival.
Loknath Temple: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the highlight of this temple is the linga that remains under water. Offerings of flowers, herbs and sandalpaste made to the linga get decomposed and are believed to be medicated, thus carried home by devotees. Among the few festivals celebrated here, the Saranti Samobar Mela and Shivratri are extremely important.
Puri Beach: This is one of the most sought after beaches in India, also considered holy because of the millions of devotees who come here for a dip when visiting Lord Jagannath's city. Enjoy an amazing outing at the golden sands of this clean beach, whose shores are lined with stalls selling yummy food and tiny trinkets. In fact, a large number of hotels line the beach ranging across all budgets. An especially prominent beach is the Balighai Beach located 8 kms from Puri and fringed by casuarinas groves.
Pipli: Located almost 36 kms from Puri, this small town is known for its exquisite appliqué work. Pick up alluring traditional applique items such as batuas (cloth pouches) and sunjis (embroidered quilts), bedsheets, umbrellas and garments.
Chilika Lake: The largest brackish water lake in Asia, this lake is the favourite haunt of several migratory and aquatic birds, especially flamingos. There is the Nalaban Island in the middle of the lake, which is a classified bird sanctuary. This lake is also home to the Irrawaddy Dolphins.
Top Hotels in Puri
- Hotel Pushpa Berries Group Of Hotels
- Hotel Shakti International
- Hotel Golden Dust
- Fort Mahodadhi
- Hotel Puri Beach Resort
Top Landmarks in Puri
- Hotels Near Puri Sea Beach
- Hotels Near Swargadwar Beach
- Hotels Near Chilika Lake
- Hotels Near Puri Railway Station
- Hotels Near Konark Chandrabhaga Beach