Jagannath Puri is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India. Situated on the eastern coast of India, this Dham is dedicated to Lord Vishnu as the All-Brahman hero. He is considered to be the form of Lord Vishnu who is responsible for the prevailing Kalyuga. This fact makes this shrine more important at the present time. Adi Shankaracharyaji also chose this place for the purpose of establishing the Eastern Govardhan Math. Eastern Govardhan Math is one of the 6 monasteries that were founded by Adi Shankaracharyaji in the four directions of India.
According to many parameters, Jagannath Puri is one of the largest vibrant temples in India. This is the largest temple of Kalinga architectural style. Even though the Sun Temple of Konark competes with it in size, we have lost that temple in spiritual terms. The kitchen of Jagannath Puri temple is more spacious than the kitchen located in any temple complex all over the world. The name of Jagannath ji, this name of it truly suits it and is the true form of his speech.
Puri Nagari’s life has been centered around the Jagannath temple since time immemorial. Though this temple is full of devotees throughout the year, but the number of devotees remains at the peak here in the month of Ashadh when Jagannath ji’s Jagprashid Rath Yatra is taken out. When I spent a few days in this temple city, I visited the temple twice and also visited other sightseeing places in Puri city. In this journey memoir, I want to be mainly focused on the theme of the temple. I will present different versions of other sightseeing in Puri city.
Brief History of Jagannath Temple
It is believed that the original temple of Jagannath was built by King Indradyumna in Satyuga. It is futile to find evidence of the golden age. But a lake named Indradyumna Sarovar is still located in Puri city.
The story related to Jagannath temple is well known and well known. According to this legend, Lord Vishnu was originally worshiped in the forests of this region under the name of Neel Madhav. Indradyumna was the king of Malwa. He orders a Brahmin named Vidyapati to find Neel Madhav. The Brahmin married the daughter of the head of the area and got information about the place where Neel Madhav was. But God’s Leela is unique. It was not acceptable to him that Brahmins should find him.
Finally, King Indradyumna came here after getting the order of Lord Vishnu and received the wooden log mentioned by him. Statues of Jagannath, Balarama and Subhadra were made with this log. A Sudarshan Chakra was also engraved. The king then established the temple atop the hill.
According to another legend, the craftsman of Devaloka, Vishwakarma, approved the construction of the idol, but requested to ban anyone from entering the workshop during that time. He said that in case of any obstacle, the idols will be incomplete. But the impatient king created a disturbance in the work of Vishwakarma by looking inside, which left the idols incomplete. Vishwakarma had not yet created arms of the Deities.
According to the records received, the temple existed since at least the 12th century. All the dynasties of Utkal region maintained and maintained it during their reign.
Various invaders repeatedly attacked this temple. According to Aurangzeb’s order, this temple was kept closed for 15 years. It was only after his death that this temple was opened again.
Architecture of Jagannath Puri Temple
The Jagannath Puri temple is based on the Deul style of Kalinga architecture. The Jagmohan and a high peak above the sanctum sanctorum are proof of this. When you come out of the sanctum sanctorum and enter the temple premises, the huge size of the peak will surprise you.
Like other ancient temples, the Jagannath temple is also a unique collection of unique artifacts, which you will be very happy to see. I want to make you aware of some of the incomparable gems from this wonderful collection so that whenever you visit this beautiful and picturesque temple, do not forget to visit these artifacts.
Arun Pillar of Sinhwar
If you enter the interior of the temple from Sinhwar, then you will see a high pillar in front of the entrance. This is the Arun pillar which was originally installed in the Sun Temple of Konark. After the Konark temple was destroyed, this pillar was brought here and restored. Standing on the ground you will not be able to see, but at the top of this pillar is a statue of Arun, the charioteer of the Sun God. It seems as if Arun is praying to Lord Jagannath to restore the glory and glory of the sun god on Utkal’s land.
The Singh Gate is the eastern entrance to the temple, which is located on Bada Danda ie Grand Marg. Rath Yatra is carried out every year on this route. The reason for calling it lion gate is two lions decorated at the door. Also, on both sides of the doorway are the gatekeepers of Lord Vishnu, Jai and Vijay. The statue of the fallen Holy can be seen to the right of this entrance. This fact makes this gate more important than the other three gates. Those who do not get admission in the temple, see the fallen holy through this gate.
Proceeding to the temple, the famous 22 steps are relatively close to this gate. These steps lead the devotees to the main temple. That is why there is a great reverence for these stairs in the heart of the devotees. The Rath Yatra also begins and ends at Sinhwar. Therefore, this gate is considered to be the gateway to various rituals of the temple. The other three entrances are the Ashwa Gate, the Gaj Gate and the Vighra Gate.
Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra
It is well known that we go to see Jagannath Puri temple of these three brothers and sisters. But the notable fact about all three is that their huge statues have been made using Neem wood. Whenever you see his statue, keep this fact in mind. If you do not visit Jagannath temple every year, then it is possible that in each of your Puri yatras you will see different statues of all three. You may not be able to differentiate between ancient and new idols because new idols are also engraved in the same way.
Many of you readers will know that every 12 – 19 years in the Jagannath temple, new idols of the same kind are installed in place of the three ancient idols. This is done in the year in which there is more month or Purushottam month. Purushottam month comes in the month of Ashaadha in the form of more month between 12 and 19 years. The new idols are established by an elaborate ritual called the Nabakalebar or Navakalewar.
On seeing the idols, first of all your eyes fall on their big circular eyes. Like this, your replicas will be visible everywhere in the city of Puri, but seeing the Deities directly in the sanctum sanctorum from a distance is not less than a divine experience. Therefore, make their images immortal in your eyes and heart.
The pedestal on which the three Gods are installed in the sanctum sanctorum is called Ratnaveedi. Ratnaveedi means throne of gems. Statues of Sudarshan Chakra, Shri Devi, Bhu Devi and Madan Mohan are also installed on Ratnaveedi.
The first aarti of Lord Jagannath in the morning is Mangal Aarti. This is an elaborate ritual to lift the three brothers and sisters from sleep in the morning. They are awakened from sleep by singing songs before opening the doors of the temple. To get the first darshan of the Lord, the temple gets crowded since morning. As soon as the sanctum sanctorum opens, devotees flock before the gate. It is only after seeing God that they begin their day.
Whether or not to participate in Mangal Aarti in the morning, it was a very difficult selection for visitors like me. Finally, I decided to attend Mangal Aarti for which I got up at Brahm Muhurta at 4 in the morning and walked from my guest house towards Sinhwar. I entered inside after depositing my phone at the entrance. A priest came to help me, who took me to the main pavilion and placed me in the first row. A huge group of devotees were present in the temple in that dusk of dawn. At that time, I did not even realize that it was going to be difficult to stand in the midst of the overflowing public after the opening of the temple.
Most of the visitors present in the temple during the winter are local visitors who come here regularly, probably every day. It is best practice for them to get ahead of the gathering masses and see God. But the ignorance of ignorant visitors like us always suffers from the possibility of suffocating or being crushed. There is no way to come out. I was in the same position as standing in the first row. As soon as the doors of the temple opened, crowds of devotees thrived that for a few moments my intellect became inactive. After a few moments, I controlled myself. So, if you want to attend Mangal Aarti, be careful and stand at a safe distance.
Mahaprasad in the temple area
Out of the four dhams, Puri is called the grain area of God where they are very happy to eat. God meditates in Badrinath Dham, in Rameswaram they bathe and in Dwarka they sleep. It is no wonder that Jagannath Puri temple is the largest kitchen for God in the whole world. You can see this kitchen, but unlike Langar, you cannot serve here. A nominal entry fee is required to visit the kitchen.
The best time to visit the kitchen is in the morning when food is cooked in clay vessels. Wearing a dhoti, many priests cut down the bhajis and make pakwans in traditional chulhas made in rows. 58 different types of food are cooked for God, which is all-pure satvic food without onion and garlic. Water for use in the kitchen is brought from two wells named Ganga and Yamuna. It is a unique experience to enjoy a visit to various activities in the largest kitchen of any temple in the world.
The offering is offered to the Lord six times throughout the day from midnight to midnight. Get more information about Mahaprasad of Jagannath Temple from here.
Pitchers filled with Mahaprasad of Jagannath temple of Puri are taken to different places in the city throughout the day. If you are a resident of Puri city then you can get food from the temple for any family event. Be it the celebration of marriage or the birthday celebration or any guest coming home, food is required. My guess is that this should be the way of Puri city to invite the blessings of Lord Jagannath to his residence and in his life during important events.
Anand Bazaar is the place where offerings made in the kitchen of the temple are kept for sale. The best time to come here is noon. I believe that before this, you would have never seen such quantity of food before your eyes anywhere else in the whole world. People buy and eat prasad directly from the earthen vessel in which it has been cooked. Here you can see all kinds of sweets. It is a crowded, noisy and chaotic market. It is a unique market in itself.
On reaching the end of Anand Bazar, from there you can see the spectacular form of Jagannath Puri Temple. All its architecture can be admired.
Neel Chakra or Shri Chakra
Above the summit of the temple is a huge circle made in Ashtadhatu which is called Neel Chakra or Shri Chakra. This chakra is as revered as the Lord himself installed in the sanctum sanctorum. The flag flying above the wheel is called the Purifier. In ancient times, devotees who came out to visit Puri used to see this flag first. A glimpse of this flag used to inform them that they have reached Purushottam region and their destination is now near. Many travel songs are popular in this region, in which the joy of the pilgrims is evident after receiving the first sight of this flag.
New flag hoisting
The fallen holy flag fluttering on the top of the temple is changed several times in a day. At that time, all the spectators watch the ritual of hoisting the new flag with a neck high. We were present on the day of Ekadashi in the temple. We saw this new flag hoisting ritual in the company of thousands of devotees. The Jagannath temple is also an unforgettable experience. Therefore, please see it.
An amazing feature of this flag is that the flag flies in the opposite direction of the flow of air. Nobody knows how this is possible.
Other temples of Jagannath Puri complex
There are many small temples in the Jagannath temple complex. People believe that their number is 108. It is believed that miniature forms of all the pilgrimages of India are present in this complex.
Vimala Devi Temple – Vimala Devi Temple is the Shakti Peetha of this region. His temple is located near the Jagannath temple. Here women offer kumkum and bangles to the goddess. Do visit this temple during your Puri Yatra. A new temple of the Goddess is also inside the Puri Shankaracharya Math located near the beach.
As part of daily rituals, Bhog Jagannath is also offered to Vimala Devi in the temple kitchen. This enjoyment is not considered as Mahaprasad unless the Goddess blesses that enjoyment.
Mahalakshmi Temple – It is believed that in the kitchen of Jagannath Temple, Mahalakshmi only supervises the process of cooking. He has a very beautiful temple in this complex. Like Vimala Devi, Mahalakshmi is also offered bangles and kumkum.
Some other temples in the temple complex are Kanchi Ganesh, Kashi Vishwanath, Surya Mandir, Saraswati Temple, temples dedicated to various incarnations of Vishnu, Hanuman Temple etc.
The temple complex has several open pavilions based on pillars. Mukti Mandap is the most popular among them. By my estimation they are used by devotees to perform various rituals and to relax. There is a Dola mandapa with very beautiful archway which is used for Dola Yatra. Bathing altar is used for bathing journey during the annual bathing festival.
Celebrations of Jagannath Puri Temple
Many elaborate daily rituals are performed in the temple which keep the temple and its priests busy throughout the day. Many festivals are also organized at an annual level for which visitors come from all over the world. At that time, the joy of the place is at its peak.
Rath Yatra – The most popular festival of Puri is Rath Yatra. Many people know the city of Puri only from the Jagannath temple and this chariot journey in which hundreds of devotees pull the three huge chariots. The festival is held in the month of Ashadh which falls in the July month of the English Panchag. Each year these three chariots are made in a new way, which is an important and elaborate celebration in itself. Many types of artisans come to participate in it. The yatra lasts for 6 days when the three brothers and sisters celebrate their annual holiday at Gundicha festival, 3 kilometers away.
The last day of the rath yatra is called Neeladri Bije . On this day Mahalakshmi does not allow Jagannath to enter the temple unless she feeds him a Rasgulla.
Chandan Yatra – This festival is held on the day of Akshaya Tritiya. One of the importance of this day is that from this day the work of the construction of three chariots is also started.
Bathing Yatra and Anasara – The annual bathing festival is held on Jyestha Purnima. After bathing, the idols of the three brothers and sisters are taken to Anasara Ghat for 15 days. At that time, inside the Jagannath temple, their Pattachitra are placed on the Ratnaveedi in their place and they are worshiped.
Read more: Pattachitra of Raghurajpur
Dola Yatra – This yatra is organized around the festival of Holi.
Panchaka – In this festival, the three gods are given different appearance and appearance.
Gupt Gundicha – This is a 14-day celebration of Vimala Devi which falls around Ashwin Navratri.
The priests or priests of the Jagannath temple are called Sevayat. They hold the northern most of Odisha’s colorful, colorful icons.
Travel Tips of Jagannath Puri
Only Hindus are allowed to enter the temple. These include devotees who follow Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Others can visit the fallen holy statue, which can be seen from outside the temple.
The temple is open from 5 am to midnight.
You can spend a whole day visiting the temple and various activities here. In the absence of time, it can also be seen in 1 to 2 hours.
You cannot carry any type of electronic device such as a phone inside the temple. One has to deposit his phone and shoes before entering the temple. You can only take your wallet. There is an official window to store these items. If you buy something from a shop nearby, then he will also be ready to keep your deposit.
There is a bookstore near the window to store shoes and slippers, from where you can buy some books based on temple and Puri.
For more information, see this temple site.