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Jagannath Temple
Pilgrimage Destinations of India


Jagannath Temple

Destination: Jagannath Temple, Puri

INTRODUCTION

The very name of Puri brings the world famous Jagannath Temple to mind. It is one of the four sacred dhams of the Hindus, the others being Dwarka in the west, Badrinath in the north and Rameswaram in the south. The mammoth temple, towering 214 feet 8 inches above Puri town, promotes the precept of equality of castes. The Lord is also known as “Sarvam Jagannatham” and his gates are open to all irrespective of castes. Visited by savants and seers like Adi Shankaracharya, Ramanuja, Chaitanya, Nanak, Vivekananda and many others, Lord Jagannath has been the melting pot of all religious faiths.

The temple is actually a part of a larger temple comprising four chambers, namely, the Deul, the Jagmohana, Natamandir and Bhogamandir. It has four gates and each gate has an animal theme. The main gate on the east is predictably called the Singhadwar. The archetypal temple was built in Kalinga style architecture by the Ganga King Chondagangadeva in the 12th century.

It is now a big pilgrim center with an amazing amalgamation of priests, their assistants and the exuberant pandas (guides). This incredible assembly of more than 6,000 priests and 14,000 sundry employees is headed by the Raja of Puri. He is the only person, who has the authority of sweeping before the proceeding chariots. He alone is entitled to carry the revered Lord's umbrella.

Sarnath

The legend associated with the temple takes one back to the time of the Yadava hero Sri Krishna. It is said that when Krishna died, his mortal body was cremated by the valiant Pandava brothers inside the Jagannath Temple. However, his heart was not consumed by the funeral fires, and so it was immersed in the sea at Puri. The heart floated on the sea and cast a brilliant lustre over the place. In the course of time, it was found out by a tribal chieftain named Vishwabasu Sabara. The heart had transformed into a blue statue or a parama vigraha (super form). Vishwabasu started worshipping the statue at Nila Kandara and, hence, the deity came to be called Nila Madhava.

It was around this time that King Indradyumna of Malava, who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, wished to obtain the most exquisite idol of his chosen deity. He had embarked upon constructing a splendid temple for the purpose. A messenger of the king by the name of Vidyapati became aware of the extraordinary Nila Madhava. Consequently, Vidyapati informed King Indradyumna of the superior idol. To lay his hands on the idol, the overzealous king imprisoned Vishwabasu but the deity could not be found.

A divine message instructed the king to free the tribal chieftain. The repentant king prayed hard to the Lord and subsequently, he was assured that he would get the Lord in a different form. At the end of the completion of the temple, the king's men found a colossal log at the seashore, which they brought in with the thought of carving a deity out of it. However, to add to their surprises, none of the skilled carpenters succeeded in carving on the log. To relieve Indradyumna of the distress, Vishwakarma, the architect of the gods, came down in disguise and took on the charge of carving. Vishwakarma wanted to sculpt the deity in secret and, accordingly, he started carving the idol in a closed room. As days passed by, the queen of the land, unable to bear her curiosity, opened the closed room and was shocked to find that Vishwakarma had disappeared leaving behind four partially carved figures. At that moment, a heavenly voice instructed the king on how to proceed, and named the four figures Jagannath, Subhadra, Balarama and Sudarshan.

WHEN TO VISIT

Normal: Throughout the Year

Special Event: Rath Yatra in June-July

THE PILGRIMAGE

THE Journey It is a 65-km journey from the Biju Patnaik Airport at Bhubaneswar to Puri. The distance can be covered in an hour if you happen to travel by car. After reaching Puri, you will be approached by a number of pandas whose job is to look after the pilgrims until the end of the pilgrimage rituals. They would guide through the various processes and help one to have a darshan of the shrine. One should take the services of a registered panda only.

Rituals

The ritual begins with the buying of the prasad (food items) to be offered at the temple. The pandas will help you in deciding what to buy. The next step is to swirl and squeeze one's way through the sea of human crowd towards the gateway of the sanctum. As one starts entering into the chamber, two temple priests standing by the gateway bless the passing pilgrims with a kind of broom. By this time, the panda will forward the prasad for the puja to the main priest. When the puja is over, the panda collects the prasad from the deity for the pilgrim.EVENTS AND FESTIVALS

The annual Rath Yatra is the biggest and the most famous of all the festivals of this shrine. The festival is the occasion when the images of Lord Jagannath, Subhadra and Balarama are taken out for a chariot ride in the months of June-July each year. The three idols are taken out placed in gigantic yellow chariots, which are almost 45 feet high and have six wheels. These raths are then drawn by the zealous pilgrims. The festival is attended by a large number of devotees from al over the subcontinent.

DON'T MISS

Koili Vaikuntha

A temple within the temple compound, Koili Vaikuntha is a kind of cremation ground for the old deities after the new ones are installed during the Nabakalevara (a ritual that occurs once every twelve years).

Golden Well

The Golden Well, known as the Sunakuan, is used for drawing bath water just once a year on Snana Yatra

Kalpa Bata

The Kalpa Bata is an ancient tree supposedly believed to fulfil the wishes of the devotees Mukti Mandap

Mukti Mandap is an elevated platform, where the seers, the pundits and the scholars can sit and discuss the cases of religious controversy.

Ananda Bazaar

The Ananda Bazaar is the food market where devotees can purchase prasad.

Aruna Stambha

Aruna Stambha or the Sun Pillar is located outside the walls in front of the Singhadwar (Lion Gate). It is a colossal pillar, about 34 feet high that stands on a platform. This pillar is usually decorated with pieces of cloth by the devotees

Bira Hanuman

Bira Hanuman is the Lord's eternal devotee, who guards the temple at all the four entrances.

Patitapaban Temple

Lord Patitapaban is the deity who was installed especially for those who can never enter the temple, especially the non-Hindus. If you enter from the Lion Gate, it is on the right side of the temple complex.

Baishi Pahacha

Baishi Pahacha is a flight of twenty-two steps, which is used to bring down the revered Lord Jagannath, Subhadra and Balaram on the Rath Yatra day.

LODGING

Good lodging facilities are available at a number of hotels like the May Fair Beach Resorts, Hans Coco-Palms, Tosali Sands, OTDC Panthanivas, Puri Hotel and Sagarika Hotel. In addition, a large number of dharamshalas are available on both sides of the Grant Road.

HOW TO REACH

By Air

Indian Airlines flights as well as private airlines operate from the Biju Patnaik Airport at Bhubaneswar (65 km). Bhubaneswar is well connected by air to Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai and Chennai, Vishakhapatnam, Hyderabad and Raipur.

By Rail

Being a terminus on the South Eastern Railway, Puri is easily reachable from a number of cities like Calcutta, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Patna and Tirupati by trains. The Khurda Road junction in Bhubaneswar connects the state with Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai.

By Road

The National Highway links Puri with Calcutta (480 km), Chennai (1225 km), Delhi (1745 km) and Mumbai (1691 km).

INFORMATION TIT BITS
There are three information centers at the Jagannath Temple:

1.Lion's Gate Information Center
2.Sea-beach Information Center
3.Railway Information Center

DO'S AND DON'TS

1.Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple.
2.Some objects like the shoes, socks, camera, leather articles, umbrella, radio, tape recorder, intoxicants, arms and ammunitions are not allowed inside the temple.
3.Food items from outside are prohibited.
4.Smoking is not to be indulged inside the temple.
5.Littering is prohibited inside the temple.
6.One should not touch any idol.
7.The Temple Outpost should be contacted for any kind of police help.
8.Complaint/suggestion books are available at the Temple Branch Office and Information Center at Lion's Gate.



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