Puri ( listen (help·info)) is a city and a
the state of
Odisha in eastern India. It is the district headquarters
Puri district and is situated on the Bay of Bengal, 60 kilometres
(37 mi) south of the state capital of Bhubaneswar. It is also
known as Sri Jagannath Dham after the 12th-century Jagannath Temple
located in the city. It is one of the original
Char Dham pilgrimage
sites for Hindus.
Puri is known by several names since the ancient times, and was
locally known as "Sri Kshetra" and Lord Jagannath temple is known as
Puri and the Jagannath Temple were invaded 18 times by
Muslim rulers, from the 4th century AD till the early 19th
century with the objective of looting the treasures of the temple.
Puri and its temple, were part of British
India attained independence in August 1947. Even though
princely states do not exist in
India today, the heirs of the Gajapati
Dynasty of Khurda still perform the ritual duties of the temple. The
temple town has many Hindu religious maths or monasteries.
The economy of
Puri town is dependent on the religious importance of
the Jagannath Temple to the extent of nearly 80 percent. The 24
festivals, including 13 major ones, held every year in the temple
complex contribute to the economy;
Ratha Yatra and its related
festivals are the most important which are attended by millions of
people every year. Sand art and applique art are some of the important
crafts of the city.
Puri has been chosen as one of the heritage cities for Heritage City
Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) scheme of Government of
1 Geography and climate
2.1 Names in history
2.2 Ancient period
2.3 Medieval and early modern periods
2.4 Modern history
5 City management and governance
Jagannatha Temple at Puri
6.2 The Pancha Tirtha of Puri
6.3 Gundicha Temple
6.6 District museum
6.7 Raghunandana library
7 Festivals of Puri
Rath Yatra at Puri
7.2 Chhera Pahara
7.3 Chandan Yatra
7.4 Snana Yatra
7.5 Anavasara or Anasara
7.6 Naba Kalebara
7.7 Suna Besha
7.8 Niladri Bije
7.9 Sahi yatra
7.10 Samudra Arati
9 Arts and crafts
9.1 Sand art
15 External links
Geography and climate
Atharanala Bridge dating back to the 16th century at the entrance
Puri, located on the east coast of
India on the Bay of Bengal, is in
the centre of the
Puri district. It is delimited by the Bay of Bengal
on the southeast, the Mauza Sipaurubilla on the west, Mauza
Gopinathpur in the north and Mauza Balukhand in the east. It is within
the 67 kilometres (42 mi) coastal stretch of sandy beaches that
Chilika Lake and the south of
Puri city. However, the
administrative jurisdiction of the
Municipality extends over an
area of 16.3268 square kilometres (6.3038 sq mi) spread over
30 wards, which includes a shore line of 5 kilometres
Puri is in the coastal delta of the
Mahanadi River on the shores of
the Bay of Bengal. In the ancient days it was near to Sisupalgarh
(also known as "Ashokan Tosali"). Then the land was drained by a
tributary of the Bhargavi River, a branch of the Mahanadi River. This
branch underwent a meandering course creating many arteries altering
the estuary, and formed many sand hills. These sand hills could be cut
through by the streams. Because of the sand hills, the Bhargavi River,
flowing to the south of Puri, moved away towards the Chilika Lake.
This shift also resulted in the creation of two lagoons, known as Sar
and Samang, on the eastern and northern parts of
Sar lagoon has a length of 5 miles (8.0 km) in an east-west
direction and a width of 2 miles (3.2 km) in north-south
direction. The estuary of the
Bhargavi River has a shallow depth of
just 5 feet (1.5 m) and the process of siltation continues.
According to a 15th-century Odia writer Saraladasa, the bed of the
unnamed stream that flowed at the base of the Blue Mountain or
Neelachal was filled up. Katakarajavamsa, a 16th-century chronicle
(c.1600), attributes filling up of the bed of the river which flowed
through the present Grand Road, as done during the reign of King
Narasimha II (1278–1308) of Eastern Ganga dynasty.
According to the Köppen–Geiger climate classification system the
Puri is classified as Aw (Tropical savanna climate). The
city has moderate and tropical climate. Humidity is fairly high
throughout the year. The temperature during summer touches a maximum
of 36 °C (97 °F) and during winter it is 17 °C
(63 °F). The average annual rainfall is 1,337 millimetres
(52.6 in) and the average annual temperature is 26.9 °C
(80.4 °F). The weather data is given in the following
Climate data for Puri
Average high °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Main article: Timeline of Puri
Names in history
Puri, the holy land of Lord Jagannatha, also known by the popular
vernacular name Shrikhetra, has many ancient names in the Hindu
scriptures such as the Rigveda, Matsya purana, Brahma Purana, Narada
Purana, Padma Purana, Skanda Purana,
Kapila Purana and
Niladrimahodaya. In the Rigveda, in particular, it is mentioned as a
place called Purushamandama-grama meaning the place where the Creator
deity of the world – Supreme Divinity deified on an altar or mandapa
was venerated near the coast and prayers offered with Vedic hymns.
Over time the name got changed to Purushottama
Puri and further
shortened to Puri, and the Purusha came to be known as Jagannatha.
Sages like Bhrigu,
Markandeya had their hermitage close to
this place. Its name is mentioned, conforming to the deity
worshipped, as Srikshetra, Purusottama Dhāma, Purusottama Kshetra,
Puri and Jagannath Puri. Puri, however, is the popular
usage. It is also known by the geographical features of its location
Shankhakshetra (the layout of the town is in the form of a conch
shell), Neelāchala ("Blue mountain" a terminology used to name a
very large sand lagoon over which the temple was built but this name
is not in vogue), Neelāchalakshetra, Neelādri. In Sanskrit, the
word "Puri" means town or city, and is cognate with polis in
Another ancient name is Charita as identified by General Alexander
Cunningham of the Archaeological Survey of India, which was later
spelled as Che-li-ta-lo by Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang. When the
present temple was built by the Eastern Ganga king Anantavarman
Chodaganga in the 11th and 12th centuries AD, it was called
Purushottamkshetra. However, the Moghuls, the
Marathas and early
British rulers called it Purushottama-chhatar or just Chhatar. In
Moghul ruler Akbar's
Ain-i-Akbari and subsequent
records it was known as Purushottama. In the Sanskrit drama Anargha
Raghava Nataka as well, authored by Murari Mishra, a playwright, in
the 8th century AD, it is referred to as Purushottama. It was only
after the 12th century AD that
Puri came to be known by the shortened
Jagannatha Puri, named after the deity or in a short form as
Puri. It is the only shrine in India, where Radha, along with
Lakshmi, Saraswati, Durga, Bhudevi, Sati, Parvati, and Shakti, abodes
with Krishna, who is also known by the name Jagannath.
Ujjayani credited with building the original
temple in 318 AD
According to the chronicle Madala Panji, in 318 AD, the priests and
servitors of the temple spirited away the idols to escape the wrath of
the Rashtrakuta king Rakatavahu. In the temple's historical
records it finds mention in the
Brahma Purana and Skanda Purana
stating that the temple was built by the king Indradyumna,
S. N. Sadasivan, a historian, in his book A Social History of India
quotes William Joseph Wilkins, author of the book Hindu Mythology,
Vedic and Purānic as stating that in Puri,
Buddhism was once a well
established practice but later
Buddhists were persecuted and
Brahmanism became the order of the religious practice in the town; the
Buddha deity is now worshipped by the
Hindus as Jagannatha. It is also
said by Wilkinson that some relics of
Buddha were placed inside the
idol of Jagannath which the Brahmins claimed were the bones of Lord
Krishna. Even during Maurya king Ashoka's reign in 240 BC, Kalinga was
a Buddhist center and that a tribe known as Lohabahu (barbarians from
outside Odisha) converted to
Buddhism and built a temple with an idol
Buddha which is now worshipped as Jagannatha. Wilkinson also says
that the Lohabahu deposited some
Buddha relics in the precincts of the
Construction of the
Jagannatha Temple started in 1136 AD and completed
towards the latter part of the 12th century. The Eastern Ganga king
Anangabhima III dedicated his kingdom to Lord Jagannatha, then known
as the Purushottam-Jagannatha, and resolved that from then on he and
his descendants would rule under "divine order as Jagannatha's sons
and vassals". Even though princely states do not exist in
the heirs of the Gajapati dynasty of Khurda still perform the ritual
duties of the temple; the king formally sweeps the road in front of
the chariots before the start of the Ratha Yatra.
Medieval and early modern periods
The history of
Puri is on the same lines as that of the Jagannath
Temple, which was invaded 18 times during its history to plunder the
treasures of the temple, rather than for religious reasons. The first
invasion occurred in the 8th century AD by Rastrakuta king Govinda-III
(798–814 AD), and the last took place in 1881 AD by the monotheistic
followers of Alekh (Mahima Dharma) who did not recognise the worship
of Jagannatha. From 1205 AD onward  there were many invasions
of the city and its temple by Muslims of Afghan and
Yavanas or foreigners. In most of these invasions the idols
were taken to safe places by the priests and the servitors of the
temple. Destruction of the temple was prevented by timely resistance
or surrender by the kings of the region. However, the treasures of the
temple were repeatedly looted. The table lists all the 18
invasions along with the status of the three images of the temple, the
triad of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra following each
Invader (s), year (s) AD
Status of the three images of the Jagannath temple
Govinda III (798–814) of the Rashtrakuta Empire
King Subhanadeva of Bhaumakara dynasty
Idols shifted to Gopali near Sonepur. Was brought back to
Yayati I after 146 years and re-consecrated after performing
Illias Shah, Sultan of Bengal, 1340
Images shifted to a secret location.
Feroz Shah Tughlaq, 1360
Ganga King Bhanudeva III
Images not found, though rumored that they were thrown into the Bay Of
Ismail Ghazi commander of
Alauddin Hussain Shah
Alauddin Hussain Shah of Bengal, 1509
Images shifted to Chandhei Guha Pahada near Chilika Lake.
Kalapahara, army assistant general of Sulaiman Karrani of the Afghan
Sultan of Bengal, 1568
Images initially hidden in an island in Chilika Lake. However, the
invader took the idols from here to the banks of the
Ganges River and
burnt them. Bisher Mohanty, a Vaishnavite saint, who had followed the
invading army, retrieved the Brahmas and hid it in a drum at
Khurdagada in 1575 AD and finally re-installed it in the deities.
Deities were brought back to
Puri and consecrated in the Jagannath
Suleman, the son of Kuthu Khan and Osman, the son of Isha (ruler of
Ramachandradeva, the Bhoi dynasty ruler of Khurda
Revolt was by local
Muslim rulers who desecrated the images.
Mirza Khurum, the commander of Islam Khan I, the Nawab of Bengal, 1601
Purushottamadeva of Bhoi Dynasty
Image moved to Kapileswarpur village by boat through the river
Bhargavi and kept in the Panchamukhi Gosani temple. Thereafter, the
deities were kept in Dobandha—Pentha.
Hasim Khan, the Subedar of Orissa, 1608
Purushottam Deva, the King of Khurda
Images shifted to the Gopal temple at Khurda and brought back in
Hindu Rajput Jagirdar Kesodasmaru, 1610
Purusottamdeva, the king of Khurda
Images kept at the
Gundicha Temple and brought back to
Kalyan Malla, 1611
Purushottamadeva, the King of Khurda
Images moved to 'Mahisanasi' also known as'Brahmapura' or 'Chakanasi'
Chilika Lake where they remained for one year.
Kalyan Malla, 1612
Paiks of Purushottamadeva, the King of Khurda
Images placed on a fleet of boats at Gurubai Gada and hidden under the
'Lotani Baragachha' or
Banyan tree) and then at 'Dadhibaman
Mukarram Khan, 1617
Purushottama Deva, the King of Khurda
Images moved to the Bankanidhi temple, Gobapadar and brought back to
Puri in 1620.
Mirza Ahmad Beg, 1621
Images shifted to 'Andharigada' in the mouth of the river Shalia
across the Chilika Lake. Moved back to
Puri in 1624.
Amir Mutaquad Khan alias Mirza Makki, 1645
Narasingha Deva and Gangadhar
Amir Fateh Khan, 1647
Ekram Khan and Mastram Khan on behalf of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb,
Divyasingha Deva, the king of Khurda
Images moved to 'Maa Bhagabati Temple' and then to Bada Hantuada in
Banpur across the Chilika Lake, and finally brought back to
Muhammad Taqi Khan, 1731 and 1733
Birakishore Deva and Birakishore Deva of Athagada
Images moved to Hariswar in Banpur, Chikili in Khalikote, Rumagarh in
Kodala, Athagada in
Ganjam and lastly to Marda in Kodala. Shifted back
Puri after 2.5 years.
Followers of Mahima Dharma, 1881
Birakishore Deva and Birakishore Deva of Athagada
Images burnt in the streets. 
Puri is the site of the Govardhana Matha, one of the four cardinal
institutions established by Adi Shankaracharya, when he visited Puri
in 810 AD, and since then it has become an important dham (divine
centre) for the Hindus; the others being those at Sringeri,
Matha (monastery of various Hindu sects) is headed by
Jagatguru Shankarachrya. It is a local belief about these dhams that
Lord Vishnu takes his dinner at Puri, has his bath at Rameshwaram,
spends the night at
Dwarka and does penance at Badrinath.
In the 16th century,
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu of
Bengal established the
Bhakti movements of India, now known by the name the Hare Krishna
movement. He spent many years as a devotee of
Jagannatha at Puri; he
is said to have merged with the deity. There is also a matha of
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu here known as Radhakanta Math.
In the 17th century, for the sailors sailing on the east coast of
India, the temple served as a landmark, being located in a plaza in
the centre of the city, which they called the "White Pagoda" while the
Konark Sun Temple, 60 kilometres (37 mi) away to the east of
Puri, was known as the "Black Pagoda".
The iconic representation of the images in the
Jagannatha temple is
believed to be the forms derived from the worship made by the tribal
groups of Sabaras belonging to northern Odisha. These images are
replaced at regular intervals as the wood deteriorates. This
replacement is a special event carried out ritualistically by special
group of carpenters.
Govardhana matha main gate
The city has many other Mathas as well. The Emar
Matha was founded by
the Tamil Vaishnava saint
Ramanujacharya in the 12th century AD. This
Matha, which is now located in front of Simhadvara across the eastern
corner of the Jagannath Temple, is reported to have been built in the
16th century during the reign of kings of Suryavamsi Gajapatis. The
Matha was in the news on 25 February 2011 for the large cache of 522
silver slabs unearthed from a closed chamber.
The British conquered Orissa in 1803, and, recognising the importance
Jagannatha Temple in the life of the people of the state, they
initially appointed an official to look after the temple's affairs and
later declared the temple as part of a district.
H.H Jagadguru Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, The
In 1906, Sri Yukteswar, an exponent of
Kriya Yoga and a resident of
Puri, established an ashram, a spiritual training center, named
"Kararashram" in Puri. He died on 9 March 1936 and his body is buried
in the garden of the ashram.
The city is the site of the former summer residence of British Raj,
the Raj Bhavan, built in 1913–14 during the era of governors.
For the people of Puri, Lord Jagannatha, visualized as Lord Krishna,
is synonymous with their city. They believe that
Lord Jagannatha looks
after the welfare of the state. However, after the partial collapse of
Jagannatha Temple (in the
Amalaka part of the temple) on 14 June
1990, people became apprehensive and considered it a bad omen for
Odisha. The replacement of the fallen stone by another of the same
size and weight (7 tonnes (7.7 tons)), that could be done only in the
early morning hours after the temple gates were opened, was done on 28
Puri has been chosen as one of the heritage cities for the Heritage
City Development and Augmentation Yojana scheme of the Indian
Government. It is chosen as one of the 12 heritage cities with "focus
on holistic development" to be implemented within 27 months by the end
of March 2017.
Hindus are not permitted to enter the shrines but are allowed to
view the temple and the proceedings from the roof of the Raghunandan
library, located within the precincts of the temple, for a small
See also: List of cities in Odisha
According to the 2011 Census of India,
Puri is an urban agglomeration
governed by the Municipal Corporation in
Odisha state, with a
population of 201,026 This rose to 200,564 in 2011 – comprising
104,086 males, 96,478 females, and 18,471 children (under six years of
age). The sex ratio is 927. The average literacy rate in the city is
88.03 percent (91.38 percent for males and 84.43 percent for females).
The economy of
Puri is dependent on tourism to the extent of about 80
percent. The temple is the focal point of the city and provides
employment to the people of the town. Agricultural production of rice,
ghee, vegetables and so forth of the region meet the large
requirements of the temple. Many settlements around the town
exclusively cater to the other religious requirements of the
temple. The temple administration employs 6,000 men to perform the
rituals. The temple also provides economic sustenance to 20,000
people. According to
Colleen Taylor Sen an author on food and
travel, writing on the food culture of India, the temple kitchen has
400 cooks serving food to as many as 100,000 people,. According to
J Mohapatra, Director, Ind Barath Power Infra Ltd (IBPIL), the kitchen
is known as "a largest and biggest kitchen of the world."
City management and governance
Samudra arati or worship of the sea at Swargadwar by disciples of the
Konark Development Authority, Public
Health Engineering Organisation and Orissa Water Supply Sewerage Board
are some of the principal organisations that are devolved with the
responsibility of providing for civic amenities such as water supply,
sewerage, waste management, street lighting and infrastructure of
roads. The major activity, which puts maximum pressure on these
organisations, is the annual event of the
Ratha Yatra held during
June- July. According to the
Municipality more than a million
people attend this event. Hence, development activities such as
infrastructure and amenities to the pilgrims, apart from security,
gets priority attention.
The civic administration of
Puri is the responsibility of the Puri
Municipality. The municipality came into existence in 1864 in the name
Puri Improvement Trust, which was converted into Puri
Municipality in 1881. After India's independence in 1947, the Orissa
Municipal Act (1950) was promulgated entrusting the administration of
the city to the
Puri Municipality. This body is represented by elected
representatives with a Chairperson and councilors representing the 30
wards within the municipal limits.
Jagannatha Temple at Puri
Main article: Jagannath Temple (Puri)
Left: Jagannath Temple at
Puri Right: View of the temple at night
Jagannatha Temple at
Puri is one of the major Hindu temples built
in the Kalinga style of architecture. The temple tower, with a
spire, rises to a height of 58 metres (190 ft), and a flag is
unfurled above it, fixed over a wheel (chakra).
Left:Ritual chakra and flags at the top shikhara of
Puri temple of
Jagannatha also related to Sudarsana chakra. The red flag (12 hand or
14 feet (4.3 m) denotes that Jagannath is within the temple.
Right: Statue of Aruna the charioteer of the Sun God on top of the
Aruna Stambha in front of the Singhadwara
The temple is built on an elevated platform (of about 420,000 square
feet (39,000 m2) area), 20 feet (6.1 m) above the
adjacent area. The temple rises to a height of 214 feet (65 m)
above the road level. The temple complex covers an area of 10.7 acres
(4.3 ha). There are four entry gates in four cardinal
directions of the temple, each gate located at the central part of the
walls. These gates are: the eastern gate called the Singhadwara (Lions
Gate), the southern gate known as Ashwa Dwara (Horse Gate), the
western gate called the Vyaghra Dwara (Tigers Gate) or the Khanja
Gate, and the northern gate called the Hathi Dwara or (elephant gate).
These four gates symbolize the four fundamental principles of Dharma
Vairagya (renunciation) and
Aishwarya (prosperity). The gates are crowned with pyramid shaped
structures. There is a stone pillar in front of the Singhadwara,
called the Aruna Stambha Solar Pillar , 11 metres (36 ft) in
height with 16 faces, made of chlorite stone; at the top of the stamba
an elegant statue of
Arun (Sun) in a prayer mode is mounted. This
pillar was shifted from the Konarak Sun Temple. The four gates are
decorated with guardian statues in the form of lion, horse mounted
men, tigers, and elephants in the name and order of the gates. A
pillar made of fossilized wood is used for placing lamps as offering.
The Lion Gate (Singhadwara) is the main gate to the temple, which is
guarded by two guardian deities Jaya and Vijaya. The main
gate is ascended through 22 steps known as Baisi Pahaca, which are
revered, as it is believed to possess "spiritual animation". Children
are made to roll down these steps, from top to bottom, to bring them
spiritual happiness. After entering the temple, on the left side,
there is a large kitchen where food is prepared in hygienic conditions
in huge quantities; the kitchen is called as "the biggest hotel of the
The main entrance of the Jagannath Temple
According to a legend King Indradyumma was directed by Lord Jagannath
in a dream to build a temple for him which he did as directed.
However, according to historical records the temple was started some
time during the 12th century by King Chodaganga of the Eastern Ganga
dynasty. It was completed by his descendant, Anangabhima Deva, in the
12th century. The wooden images of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra
were then deified here. The temple was under the control of the Hindu
rulers up to 1558. Then, when Orissa was occupied by the Afghan Nawab
of Bengal, it was brought under the control of the Afghan General
Kalapahad. Following the defeat of the Afghan king by Raja Mansingh,
the General of Mughal emperor Akbar, the temple became part of the
Mughal empire till 1751. Subsequently, it was under the control of the
Marathas till 1803. During the British Raj, the
Puri Raja was
entrusted with its management until 1947.
The triad of images in the temple are of Jagannatha, personifying Lord
Krishna, Balabhadra, His older brother, and Subhadra, His younger
sister. The images are made of neem wood in an unfinished form. The
stumps of wood which form the images of the brothers have human arms,
while that of Subhadra does not have any arms. The heads are large,
painted and non-carved. The faces are marked with distinctive large
The Pancha Tirtha of Puri
Main article: Pancha Tirtha of Puri
Hindus consider it essential to bathe in the Pancha Tirtha or the five
sacred bathing spots of Puri, to complete a pilgrimage to Puri. The
five sacred water bodies are the Indradyumana Tank, the Rohini Kunda,
Markandeya Tank, the Swetaganga Tank, and the
Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal also
called the Mahodadhi, in Sanskrit 'Mahodadhi' means a "great
ocean"; all are considered sacred bathing spots in the Swargadwar
area. These tanks have perennial sources of supply from
rainfall and ground water.
Main article: Gundicha Temple
The Main Gate of the Gundicha Temple
The Gundicha Temple, known as the Garden House of Jagannatha, stands
in the centre of a beautiful garden, bounded by compound walls on all
sides. It lies at a distance of about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) to
the northeast of the
Jagannatha Temple. The two temples are located at
the two ends of the Bada Danda (Grand Avenue), which is the pathway
for the Rath Yatra. According to a legend, Gundicha was the wife of
Indradyumna who originally built the Jagannath temple.
The temple is built using light-grey sandstone, and, architecturally,
it exemplifies typical Kalinga temple architecture in the
The complex comprises four components: vimana (tower structure
containing the sanctum), jagamohana (assembly hall), nata-mandapa
(festival hall) and bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings). There is also a
kitchen connected by a small passage. The temple is set within a
garden, and is known as "God's Summer Garden Retreat" or garden house
of Jagannatha. The entire complex, including the garden, is surrounded
by a wall which measures 430 by 320 feet (131 m
× 98 m) with height of 20 feet (6.1 m).
Except for the 9-day Rath Yatra, when the triad images are worshipped
in the Gundicha Temple, otherwise it remains unoccupied for the rest
of the year. Tourists can visit the temple after paying an entry fee.
Foreigners (generally prohibited entry in the main temple) are allowed
inside this temple during this period. The temple is under the
Jagannath Temple Administration, Puri, the governing body of the main
temple. A small band of servitors maintain the temple.
The Sea at Swargadwar of Puri
Swargadwar is the name given to the cremation ground or burning ghat
which is located on the shores of the sea. Here thousands of dead
Hindus brought from faraway places are cremated. It is a
belief that the Chitanya Mahaparabhu disappeared from this Swargadwar
about 500 years back.
Puri sea sunrise
Puri Sea Beach viewed from the light house
The beach at Puri, known as the "Ballighai beach, at the mouth of
Nunai River, is 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) away from the town and is
fringed by casurina trees. It has golden yellow sand. Sunrise and
sunset are pleasant scenic attractions here. Waves break in at the
beach which is long and wide.
Puri district museum is located on the station road where the
exhibits in display are the different types of garments worn by Lord
Jagannath, local sculptures, patachitra (traditional, cloth-based
scroll painting), ancient Palm-leaf manuscripts, and local craft
Raghunandana Library is located in the Emara
Matha complex (opposite
Simhadwara or lion gate, the main entrance gate). The Jagannatha
Aitihasika Gavesana Samiti (
Jagannatha Historical Centre) is also
located here. The library houses ancient palm leaf manuscripts on
Jagannatha, His cult and the history of the city.
Festivals of Puri
Main article: List of festivals observed at
Jagannatha Temple, Puri
The Grand Road near the Jagannath Temple
Puri witnesses 24 festivals every year, of which 13 are major. The
most important of these is the Rath Yatra, or the car festival, held
in the June–July, which is attended by more than 1 million
Rath Yatra at Puri
Main article: Ratha-Yatra (Puri)
Rath Yatra in
Puri in modern times showing the three chariots of
the deities with the Temple in the background
Jagannatha Temple triad are normally worshipped in the sanctum of
the temple at Puri, but once during the month of
Asadha (rainy season
of Orissa, usually in June or July), they are brought out on the Bada
Danda (main street of Puri) and taken over a distance of (3 kilometres
(1.9 mi)) to the Shri Gundicha Temple in huge chariots
(ratha), allowing the public to have darśana (holy view). This
festival is known as the Rath Yatra, meaning the journey (yatra) of
the chariots. The yatra starts every year according to the Hindu
calendar on the
Asadha Sukla Dwitiya day, the second day of bright
Historically, the ruling Ganga dynasty instituted the
Rath Yatra on
the completion of the
Jagannatha Temple around 1150 AD. This festival
was one of those Hindu festivals that was reported to the Western
world very early. Friar Odoric, in his account of 1321, reported
how the people put the "idols" on chariots, and the King, the Queen
and all the people drew them from the "church" with song and
The Rathas are huge wooden structures provided with large wheels,
which are built anew every year and are pulled by the devotees. The
Lord Jagannatha is about 45 feet (14 m) high and 35
square feet (3.3 m2) and takes about 2 months for its
construction. The chariot is mounted with 16 wheels, each of 7
feet (2.1 m) diameter. The carving in the front face of the
chariot has four wooden horses drawn by Maruti. On its other three
faces, the wooden carvings are of Rama,
Surya and Vishnu. The chariot
is known as Nandi Ghosha. The roof of the chariot is covered with
yellow and red coloured cloth. The next chariot is of Balabhadra which
is 44 feet (13 m) in height fitted with 14 wheels. The chariot is
Satyaki as the charioteer,roof covered in red and green
coloured cloth,and the chariot is known as Taladhwaja. The carvings on
this chariot include images of
Rudra as Jagannatha's
companions. The next chariot in the order is of Subhadra, which is 43
feet (13 m) in height supported on 12 wheels, roof covered in
black and red colour cloth, and the chariot is known as Darpa Dalaan
and the charioteer carved is Arjuna. Other images carved on the
chariot are of Vana Durga,
Tara Devi and Chandi Devi. The
artists and painters of
Puri decorate the cars and paint flower petals
and other designs on the wheels, the wood-carved charioteer and
horses, and the inverted lotuses on the wall behind the throne.
The chariots of Jagannath pulled during
Rath Yatra is the etymological
origin of the English word Juggernaut. The
Ratha Yatra is also
termed as the Shri Gundicha yatra and Ghosha yatra
Pahandi bije during
Ratha Yatra at Puri
The Chhera Pahara (sweeping with water) is a significant ritual
associated with the Ratha Yatra. During this ritual, the Gajapati King
wears the outfit of a sweeper and sweeps all around the deities and
chariots. The king cleans the road in front of the chariots with a
gold-handled broom and sprinkles sandalwood water and powder. As per
the custom, although the Gajapati King has been considered the most
exalted person in the Kalingan kingdom, he still renders the menial
service to Jagannatha. This ritual signifies that under the lordship
of Jagannatha, there is no distinction between the powerful sovereign
and the humblest devotee.
The Narendra Tirtha tank where ceremonies of
Chandan Yatra are
Main article: Chandan Yatra
Chandan Yatra festival held every year on
Akshaya Tritiya day
marks the commencement of the construction of the chariots of the Rath
Yatra. It also marks the celebration of the Hindu new year.
Main article: Snana Yatra
Every year, on the
Purnima day in the Hindu calendar month of Jyestha
(June), the triad images of the
Jagannatha Temple are ceremonially
bathed and decorated on the occasion of Snana Yatra. Water for the
bath is taken in 108 pots from the Suna kuan (meaning: "golden well")
located near the northern gate of the temple. Water is drawn from this
well only once in a year for the sole purpose of the religious bath of
the deities. After the bath the triad images are dressed in the
fashion of the elephant god, Ganesha. Later, during the night, the
original triad images are taken out in a procession back to the main
temple but kept at a place known as Anasara pindi. After this the
Jhulana Yatra is performed when proxy images of the deities are taken
out in a grand procession for 21 days, cruised over boats in the
Narendra Tirtha tank.
Anavasara or Anasara
Images during the Snana Yatra.
Anasara, a derivative of the Sanskrit word "Anabasara", literally
means vacation. Every year after the holy Snana Yatra, the triad
images, without the Sudarshana Chakra, are taken to a secret altar
named Anavasara Ghar (also known as Anasara pindi, 'pindi' is Oriya
term meaning "platform" ) where they remain for the next fortnight
Krishna paksha); devotees are not allowed to view these images.
Instead, devotees go to the nearby Brahmagiri to see the Lord in the
four-handed form of Alarnath, a depiction of Vishnu. Devotees
then get the first glimpse of the Lord only on the day before Rath
Yatra, which is called Navayouvana. It is a local belief that the gods
suffer from fever after taking an elaborate ritual bath, and they are
treated by the special servants, the Daitapatis, for 15 days.
Daitapatis perform special nitis (rites) known as Netrotchhaba (a rite
of painting the eyes of the triad). During this period cooked food is
not offered to the deities.
Nabakalevara and Nabakalebara 2015
Naba Kalebara is one of the most grand events associated with the Lord
Jagannatha that takes place when one lunar month of Ashadha is
followed by another of Ashadha called Adhika Masa (extra month). This
can take place at an interval of 8, 12 or even 18 years. Literally
meaning the "New Body" (Nava = New, Kalevar = Body) in Odia, the
festival is witnessed by millions of people and the budget for this
event generally exceeds $500,000. The event involves installation of
new images in the temple and burial of the old ones in the temple
premises at Koili Vaikuntha. During the Nabakalebara ceremony held
during July 2015 the idols that were installed in the temple in 1996
were replaced by specially carved new images made of neem
wood. More than 3 million people are reported to have attended
Main article: Suna Besha
Suna Besha or Golden Attire of Lord Jagannath
Suna Besha, ('Suna besh'in English translates to "gold
dressing”) also known as Raja or Rajadhiraja Bhesha  or Raja
Bhesha, is an event when the triad images of the
Jagannatha Temple are
adorned with gold jewelry. This event is observed five times in a
year. It is commonly observed on Magha
Purnima (January), Bahuda
Ekadashi also known as
Ekadashi (July), Dashahara
(Bijayadashami) (October), Karthik
Purnima (November), and Pousa
Purnima (December). One such Suna Bhesha event is observed on
Ekadashi during the
Rath Yatra on the chariots placed at the
Simhadwar. The other four Beshas are observed inside the temple on the
Ratna Singhasana (gem studded altar). On this occasion gold plates are
decorated over the hands and feet of
Jagannatha and Balabhadra;
Jagannatha is also adorned with a
Chakra (disc) made of gold on the
right hand while a silver conch adorns the left hand. Balabhadra is
decorated with a plough made of gold on the left hand while a golden
mace adorns his right hand.
Niladri Bije, celebrated in the Hindu calendar month Asadha
(June–July) on Trayodashi (13th day), marks the end of the Ratha
Yatra. The large wooden images of the triad of gods are taken out from
the chariots and then carried to the sanctum sanctorum, swaying
rhythmically; a ritual which is known as pahandi.
A scene from a play being enacted during the Sahi Yatra
The Sahi Yatra, considered the world's biggest open-air theatre,
is an annual event lasting 11 days; a traditional cultural theatre
festival or folk drama which begins on
Ram Navami and ends on Rama
avishke (Sanskrit meaning : anointing). The festival includes
plays depicting various scenes from the Ramayana. The residents of
various localities, or Sahis, are entrusted the task of performing the
drama at the street corners.
Samudra arati of worship of the sea by disciples of the
Matha at Puri
The Samudra arati is a daily tradition started by the present
Shankaracharya 9 years ago. The daily practise includes prayer and
fire offering to the sea at Swargadwar in
Puri by disciples of the
Govardhan Matha. On Paush
Purnima of every year the Shankaracharya
himself comes out to offer prayers to the sea.
Earlier, when roads did not exist, people used to walk or travel by
animal-drawn vehicles or carriages along beaten tracks to reach Puri.
Travel was by riverine craft along the
Ganges up to Calcutta, and then
on foot or by carriages. It was only during the Maratha rule that the
popular Jagannath Sadak (Road) was built around 1790. The East India
Company laid the rail track from Calcutta to Puri, which became
operational in 1898.
Puri is now well-connected by rail, road and
air services. A broad gauge railway line of the South Eastern Railways
Puri with Calcutta, and Khurda is an important railway
junction on this route. The rail distance is about 499 kilometres
(310 mi) from Calcutta and 468 kilometres (291 mi) from
Vishakhapatnam. Road network includes NH 203 that links the city with
Bhubaneswar, the state capital, situated about 60 kilometres
(37 mi) away. NH 203 B connects the city with
Brahmagiri. Marine drive, which is part of NH 203 A, connects Puri
with Konark. The nearest airport is the Biju Patnaik International
Airport at Bhubaneswar.
Puri railway station
Puri railway station is among the top
hundred booking stations of the Indian Railways.
Arts and crafts
Sand art is a special art form that is created on the beaches of Puri.
The art form is attributed to Balaram Das, a poet who lived in the
14th century. Sculptures of various gods and famous people are now
created in sand by amateur artists. These are temporary in nature as
they get washed away by waves. This art form has gained international
fame in recent years. One of the famed sand artists of
Sudarshan Patnaik. He established the Golden Sand Art Institute in
1995, in the open air on the shores of Bay of Bengal, to provide
training to students interested in this art form.
An applique art work
Appliqué art, which is a stitching-based craft unlike embroidery, was
pioneered by Hatta Maharana of Pipili. It is widely used in Puri, both
for decoration of the deities and for sale. Maharana's family members
are employed as darjis or tailors or sebaks by the Maharaja of Puri.
They prepare articles for decorating the deities in the temple for
various festivals and religious ceremonies. The appliqué works are
brightly coloured and patterned fabric in the form of canopies,
umbrellas, drapery, carry bags, flags, coverings of dummy horses and
cows, and other household textiles; these are marketed in Puri. The
cloth used is made in dark colours of red, black, yellow, green, blue
and turquoise blue.
Cultural activities, including the annual religious festivals, in Puri
Puri Beach Festival held from 5 to 9 November every year, and
the Shreekshetra Utsav held from 20 December to 2 January every year.
The cultural programmes include unique sand art, display of local and
traditional handicrafts and food festival. In addition, cultural
programmes are held for two hours on every second Saturday of the
month at the district Collector's Conference Hall near Sea Beach
Police Station. Odissi dance,
Odissi music and folk dances are part of
Odissi dance is the cultural heritage of Puri. This
dance form originated in
Puri from the dances performed by Devadasis
(Maharis) attached to the
Jagannatha Temple who performed dances in
the Nata mandapa of the temple to please the deities. Though the
devadasi practice has been discontinued, the dance form has become
modern and classical and is widely popular; many of the Odissi
virtuoso artists and gurus (teachers) are from Puri. Some of the
famous Odissi dancers are Kelucharan Mohapatra, Mayadhar Raut, Sonal
Sanjukta Panigrahi and many more.
Samanta Chandra Sekhar College, Puri
Some of the educational institutions in
Ghanashyama Hemalata Institute of Technology and Management
Gangadhar Mohapatra Law College, established in 1981
Extension Unit of Regional Research Institute of Homoeopathy, Puri,
under Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy (CCRH), New Delhi;
established in March 2006 
Shri Jagannath Sanskrit University, established in July 1981
Ayurveda Mahavidyalaya, a college and hospital where
treatment and training is based on
Ayurveda school of medicine 
The Industrial Training Institute, a premier technical institution to
provide education to skilled, committed & talented technicians was
established in 1966 by the Government of India
Blessed Sacrament High School established in 1952 is otherwise known
Puri convent.It is one of the best schools in the city. The school
features classes 1 to 10.It is located in VIP Road, Puri.
Jayee Rajguru - Freedom fighter
Chakhi Khuntia (Chandan Hajuri) – Freedom fighter 
Gopabandhu Das – Social worker
Nilakantha Das – Social activist
Madhusudan Rao – Odia Poet
Kelucharan Mohapatra – Odissi dancer
Pankaj Charan Das
Pankaj Charan Das – Odissi dancer
Padma Shri Pandit Sadashiv Rathasharma – Scholar and Preacher of
Shri Jagannath Culture
Raghunath Mohapatra – Architect and sculptor
Sudarshan Pattnaik – Sand Artist
Baisali Mohanty - ALC Global Fellow at University of Oxford, United
Rituraj Mohanty – Singer
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