Located in Puri, Orissa, the Jagannath Temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and is one of the Char Dhams of the Hindu religion. Inside the temple are kept idols of Lord Krishna, his brother Lord Balabhadra, and sister Goddess Subhadra.
This 12th century structure is also famous for the Chariot Festival, more commonly known as Ratha Yatra. As part of the festival, all three idols are taken out in a procession to Gundicha Temple, where they are kept for nine days before bringing them back to the Jagannath Temple.
Apart from being one of the Char Dhams of the Hindu religion, the Jagannath Temple is also believed to have been visited by the likes of Madhvacharya, Guru Nanak, Kabir, Tulsidas, Ramanujacharya, and Nimbarkacharya.
Legend has it…
According to the Skanda Purana, Brahma Purana, and other Puranas, it is stated that Lord Jagannath was originally worshipped as Neela Madhab by a tribal chief named Viswavasu. When king Indrayuma heard about the deity, he sent Vidyapati, a brahmin to locate the place where he was secretly worshipped. Vidyapati tried his best, but could not locate the place of worship of this deity, but was able to get married to Viswavasu’s daughter Lalita. After repeated requests from his son-in-law Vidyapati, Viswavasu took him blindfolded to the cave where Neela Madhab was worshipped. The intelligent Vidyapati kept dropping mustard seeds along the way to the cave. After a few days, the mustard seeds germinated and allowed him to find his way to the cave. He immediately informed king Indrayuma, who proceeded to Orissa. But when he reached the cave, to his surprise, the idol of the deity had been removed, and was hidden in sand. The disappointed king was determined not to return without having a darshan of the deity. He started to observe fast unto death at Mount Neela, where in due course of time, the king heard a celestial voice saying, ‘thou shall see him’. Upon hearing this, he immediately offered a horse as sacrifice, built a magnificent temple for Lord Vishnu, and installed the idol of Narasimha brought by Narada.
After the construction of the temple, the king had a vision of Lord Jagannath in his dreams, an astral voice directed him to make idols out of a fragrant tree on the seashore. Following the command, the king got the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Chakra Sudarshan made and installed in the temple.
The Jagannath Temple consists of four structures: Vimana or Bada Deula (sanctum), Jagamohan or Mukhasala (porch), Natamandir (audience hall), and Bhogamandap (hall for residuary offerings) built in a row in an axial alignment in opposite directions.
When the temple was initially constructed, it stood on a high pedestal though most of it is buried underground now. The visible portion shows three richly carved mouldings.
Timings and Religious Practices
The temple opens for darshan every morning from 5:00 a.m. till 12:00 p.m., and opens again from 4:00 p.m. till 9:00 p.m.
Festivities and Celebrations
Following are the festivals celebrated at the Jagannath Temple:
- Ratha Yatra
Among the most splendid festivals celebrated round the year in the holy city of Puri, Ratha Yatra is the grand culmination of a series of celebrations spread over the seasons of summer and monsoon.
- Snana Yatra
Snana Yatra is a festival that is celebrated in the month of Jyeshtha, and is popularly known as Deba Snana Purnima. This is the first occasion of the year when the idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra, Sudarshan, and Madanmohan are taken for a procession to Snana Bedi in the northeast corner of the outer compound.
- By Road
Connected well by road, it takes around two hours to reach Puri from Bhubaneswar. One can either board a bus, or hire a cab to reach the destination.
- By Railroad
Puri is seamlessly connected with all the major cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, etc.
- By Air
The nearest airport to Puri is the Bhubaneswar Airport, which is at an approximate distance of 60 kilometres.et
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