The Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri is among the 4 very holy shrines (called Chaar Dhaams), which every Hindu must visit in his/her lifetime. These 4 shrines are located in 4 corners of India. The Jagannath Puri Temple, located at Puri is one of the four dhaams, the other 3 being located at Rameshwaram, Dwarika, and Badrinath. As per the belief, the Chaar-Dhaam yatra should be started from here, and then once you proceed in the clockwise direction, covering Rameshwaram, Dwarika, and Badrinath in this order.
Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri
|Principal deity:||Lord Jagannath (Lord Vishnu)|
|Famous for:||Rath Yatra|
|Rath Yara date 2021:||12 July|
Jagannath temple is one of the most revered and visited temples in Odisha and is devoted to Jagannath, a form of Lord Vishnu. In this temple, people worship, a trio of deities is worshipped i.e., Lord Jagannath, his brother Lord Balabhadra and their sister Devi Subhadra.
The word Jagannath is a combination of 2 words ‘Jagat’ + ‘Nath’, where Jagat means universe, and Nath means lord. So, Jagannath means The Lord of the Universe. Puri temple is very popular for its annual Rath Yatra. During this yatra, all the three deities are pulled on huge and highly decorative temple cars. The image of the Jagannath is made of wood and this is replaced every 12 or 19 years in the exact form. For all the Hindus Puri temple is a very sacred one, especially for the Vaishnava tradition.
History of the Jagannath Temple, Puri :
According to an inscription, the construction work for the temple started in the 12th century, by the orders of King Anantavarman Chodaganga of the Ganga dynasty. However, construction was not completed. Later in 1230 AD, finishing touches were given by his son, Anagabheema Deva III, who then installed all the three deities.
Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the temple and the entry is free but for the special darshan, visitor pays a small fee to go right up to the statues.
Must Read: History of Jagannath Temple Puri
Legend Associated with Jagannath Temple, Puri:
The origin of the Puri temple has been described in the Brahma Puraan, Naarad Purana, and the Utkal Khanda (Purushottam Mahatmya) of the Skanda Puraan. As per the Puraan, during ‘Sat yug’, there lived a king named Indradyumna, who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu.
He came to know that about Viswavasu, a Savar king and tribal king, who worshipped Lord Jagannath (originally as Lord Neel Madhaba), secretly, in a dense forest. Kind Indradyumna sent a priest named Vidyapati to gather details about the deity. Though Vidyapati was not able to locate the place, he managed to marry the daughter of Viswavasu, Lalita. On his repeated requests, Viswavasu agreed to take his son-in-law to the cave where Lord Neela Madhaba was worshipped, but on one condition, that would have to go blindfolded. Vidyapati agreed to it. He carried mustard seeds with him, and while he was being taken to the deity, dropped those seeds on the ground. After a few days, when the seeds germinated, he was able to locate the cave.
On getting the news from Vidyapati, King Indradyumna left for Odra Desha (Odisha) on a pilgrimage to see and worship the deity. But the deity had disappeared in the sand. The disappointed king decided not to return without having a darshan of the deity and sat into a penance at Mount Neela. Then, there was an ‘Aakashvani’ (a celestial voice), which said, “You shall see him”. Pleased with this, he returned to his kingdom and built a magnificent temple for Vishnu. Narasimha Moorti (idol) brought by Maharishi Naarad was installed in the temple. Once during his dreams, the king had a vision of Lord Jagannath. An astral voice directed him to visit Bankamuhana to find a log of neem wood on the seashore and make idols out of it.
As directed, the king got the log of wood and got the images of Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra made out of this log, along with the image of Sudarshan chakra. This is why the Jagannath idol is of wood. The king constructed a huge temple near Kalpabata and got the images installed there.
Must Read: Lesser Known Facts About Jagannath Temple
Architecture of the Jagannath Temple, Puri :
The temple covers an area of 400,000 square feet with classic Oriya architecture. Two concentric walls enclose the temple – the 20 feet high outer wall, (called Meghanada Pacheri, and the inner wall (which surrounds the main temple), called Kurma Bedha with 120 shrines and temples.
The temple has four structures: Vimaana, Bada Deul, or Garbha-gruha (sanctum, where the deities are lodged on the Ratna Vedi), Mukhasala (Front porch), Natamandir / Nata mandir (dancing or audience hall), and Bhoga mandapa (offering place). There is a ‘Nila Chakra’ (blue wheel) at the top of the main temple which is made up of Ashta-dhatu (eight metals).
The main entrance is named Singha dwara (It has two guarding stone lions in a crouching position. Three other gates in a row are, the Elephant Gate (Hathi dwara), the Tiger Gate (Vyaghra dwara), and the Horse Gate (Ashwa dwara).
There are many Mandapas but The Mukti Mandapas is considered for the seating of selected learned Brahmins. Dola Mandapas is for conducting the annual Dol Yatra festival and for some important decision planning. Snana Bedi is used during the annual Snana Yatra for the bathing of all the idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra.
Significance of the Jagannath Temple:
The Jagannath Puri temple is of great significance for the Hindus for ages. As per the belied, when the Pandavas started their journey to heaven to meet Yamraj, the Saptarishis advised them to first visit the ‘Chaar Dhaam’, Jagannath Temple is one of them.
The significance and importance of the temple can be gauged from the following occurring, which defies scientific logic. There are many mysteries, which people believe are actually ‘miracles’ that are blessings of Lord Jagannath. Some of these mysteries are:
1. The Jagannath Temple is constructed in such a way that it does not cast any shadow on the ground throughout the day.
2. The flapping of the flag is a mystery; the top of the temple has a flag that always flaps in the direction, which is opposite to the wind.
3. The 20 feet high chakra on the top of the temple is so positioned that the complete chakra is seen, from any part of the city. Where you are in the city, if you look at the chakra, the chakra seems to be facing you.
4. As per the belief, no birds or planes fly above the temple. The site is actually a no-fly zone, not declared by any government, but by some divine power.
5. According to an 1800-year-old ritual, the flag on the temple has to be changed every day. So, a priest climbs up every day atop the temple, which is as tall as a 45 storey building, to change the flag. The belief is that if this ritual is even once, the temple will remain shut for the next 18 years.
6. When you enter the temple through ‘Singha dwaar’, you can hear the sound of waves. But after passing the gate, if you simply turn and walk in the same direction, the sound will not be heard. In fact, the sound will not be heard as long as you are inside the temple.
7. The temple is visited by many devotees; the number varies anything between 2,000 to 20,000. The same quantity of prasadam is cooked every day. Yet, there has not been a single day, when prasadam got wasted or was insufficient for that day.
8. For cooking prasadam, 7 pots are used. These pots are placed one on top of another. The intriguing part is that the contents of the topmost pot get cooked first, followed by the bottom pots.
9. Neela Chakra symbolizes the protection by Shree Jagannath which is made of 8 metals with a height of 3.5 metres and a circumference of 11 metres.
The biggest festival celebrated in the Puri temple is Rath Yatra also known as car festival, which is celebrated in June or July, once during the month of Asadha of the Hindu calendar in this celebration all the trios are specially decorated and pulled throughout to the main street of Puri (Bada Danda) to the Shri Gundicha temple so that devotees have the glimpse of the scared Rath Yatra.
Snaan Yatra is a bathing festival (On the Purnima of the month of Jyeshta), Sayan Ekadasi is celebrated on the evening of the 11th day of the bright fortnight of Asadha and some more major festivals are Chandan Yatra (in Akshaya Tritiya annually), Netrotsava, Chitalagi Amavasya, Srikrishna Janma, Bahuda Yatra, and Dussehra.
Best time to Visit Jagannath Temple
Puri temple is open all days of the week. The timings are from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm (Ideally visited before 10:00 am).
The best time to visit Puri is between October to February, when the climate is cool, pleasant and soothing. And if you want to witness the world-famous ‘Rath Yatra’, then you have to visit Puri during June or July (which is actually the rainy Season of Orissa).
How to Reach Jagannath Temple, Puri:
- By Airway: The nearest airport is Biju Patnaik International Airport, which is just 3 km away from Bhubaneswar. There are regular flights for all major cities like Chennai, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Kolkata, Bangalore, New Delhi, etc.
- By Railway: The nearest railway station is Puri, which is at a distance of just 3 km away from the Shree Jagannath Temple. There are regular direct trains from all major cities like Kolkata, Patna, New Delhi, Chennai, Bhubaneswar, etc.
- By Roadway: Regular public and private buses and taxis are easily available at Puri because of the major railway junction of the Puri and Bhubaneswar. Buses are interconnected to other nearby cities are Bhubaneswar (48 km), Cuttack (63 km), Brahmapur (124 km), and Jamshedpur (335 km).
Pooja Vidhis and daily food offering :
The day starts with The Mangal Aarti in the early morning at 5:00 AM, Beshalagi is a time when deities get dressed according to the occasion at 8:00 AM, Sakala, Dhupa – at 10:00 AM performed morning pooja with bhog, Mailam, and Bhoga Mandap- to change the clothes of the deities after the morning pooja and bhog, Madhyanha Dhupa- pooja between 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM with the Upachars, Sandhya Dhupa- poojas are performed again and bhog is prepared at 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Mailam and Chandana Lagi – Idols are anointed with sandal paste, Badashringara Bhoga- The last bhog of the day and pooja is performed.
Frequently Asked Questions about Shree Jagannath temple:
Q.1: What is the mysterious thing about the flag of The Jagannath Temple?
Ans: It has been observed the flag of The Jagannath Temple always flaps opposite to the direction of the wind.
Q.2: Why Idols are replaced in 12 to 19 years?
Ans: The Idol of The Jagannath is made up of wood that’s why it is replaced regularly in the exact form.
Q. 3: What makes Jagannath monument unique from the architecture?
Ans: The main temple of Jagannath is constructed in a unique way that no shadow of the temple falls on the ground throughout the day.
Q. 4: Who are Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra?
Ans: Lord Balabhadra is a brother of Lord Jagannath and Devi Subhadra is his sister, each has a different temple in the Puri.
Q. 5 Why Puri temple is considered the largest kitchen in India?
Ans: Rosaghara is a traditional kitchen of Jagannath Temple. It has 32 rooms, 752 earthen ovens, and around 500 main chefs and spread over an area of one acre. On special festival feed one to ten million the people.