The holy city of Puri is located 60-km from
Bhubaneswar on the coast of the Bay of
Bengal. It is one of the four holy dhamas of India - Puri, Dwarka,
Rameswaram and Badrinath . It is
considered that a pilgrimage of the temples of India is not complete
without making the journey to Puri.
Popularly Known As
Puri is called "Sri Purusottama Dham" or "Martya Vaikuntha", the abode of Lord Vishnu on earth. Other names are "Sriksetra" (best of all sacred centers), "Purusottama Ksetra" (the abode of the supreme being), "Nilachal", "Nalagiri", "Sankha Ksetra", and "Jagannatha Dhama". Puri is about 2-km wide and 4-km long.
The Jagannatha Temple or Jagannath temple here is one of the major temples in India. The worship of Lord Jagannatha is so ancient that there is no idea how long. He has been worshiped. The Lord has had many temples before the present one.
Sri Ramanuja visited Puri between 1107 and 1117 century AD and stayed for some time. Vishnu Swami visited Puri in the second half of the 12th century and established a 'Matha' near 'Markandeswar' Tank, called "Vishnuswami Matha". Nimbarka Acharya also made a pilgrimage to Puri, and Srila Prabhupada visited in January 1977.
A major reason that Puri is so important to the "Gaudiya Vaishnavas" is because Lord Chaitanya spent so much time here. Many of His pastimes with His most intimate associated\s took place at different sites in this area.
Non-Hindus cannot enter the Jagannatha temple. This is strictly enforced.
Besides being an important holy town Puri also has one of the best beaches for swimming in India. It is one of the most visited places in India by young foreign tourist. It is a very pleasant place.
Lord Jagannatha Temple
The temple of Lord Jagannatha or Jagannath temple ('Lord of the Universe') at Puri is one of the most sacred pilgrimage spots in India, one of the four abodes ('Dhamas') of the divine that lie on the four directions of the compass. The present temple structure was built in the 12th century by the 'Ganga' King 'Choda Ganga Deva', replacing an earlier structure, which probably dated to the 10th century.
Until recently, almost the entire temple was covered in white plaster, so much so that European sailors in previous centuries used it as a navigation point, referring to it as the "White Pagoda" in contrast to the "Black Pagoda" of Konark , further up the coast.
Gundicha Mandir (Temple)
This temple is located at the end of Grad road (the main road) about 3-km northeast of the Jagannatha temple . At the time of the 'Ratha-Yatra' festival , Lord Jagannatha goes to the Gundicha temple and stays there for one week. After one week He returns to His original temple. It is said that the wife of 'Indradyumna', the king who originally established the temple of Jagannatha, was known as "Gundicha". The cleansing of the Gundicha temple takes place the day before the Ratha-Yatra festival as mentioned in "Chaitanya-Caritamrita".
Non-Hindus can walk within the walls and see the beautiful garden, but they are not allowed in the temple building.