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Things To Do In Puri
The city of Puri located in the eastern state of Orissa is considered to be one of the holiest regions in the country, and is a frequently visited city by Hindu pilgrims and tourists alike. Located around 60 km away from the capital of Bhubaneshwar, Puri boasts some brilliant architecture in the form of temples and shrines, along with stretches upon stretches of unspoiled beach shores that also house most of the resorts in the city.
People from all walks of life visit the holy city of Puri to attain spiritual salvation, while the city manages to retain its splendor and versatility at being a great tourist destination with beaches, museums, and heritage sites to interest every kind of traveler. Here is a list of the top things to do while you’re in Puri.
Visit Shree Jagannath Temple
Constructed in 1198 by the King of Ganga dynasty, the Jagannath Temple is dedicated to an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, with his brother Lord Balabhadra and his sister Devi Subhadra making up the three deities that are worshipped in this shrine. While there are over 24 festivals that are celebrated in this temple each year, the Rath Yatra is the most famous and important event in not just the temple, but in the entire district of Puri.
The temple has been designed in the Kalinga style of architecture and features impressive carvings all over the monument. The monument has four chambers; the Bhog Mandir, the Natya Mandir, the Jagamohana, and the Deul that houses all three deities. The temple also employs an astounding number of men – 6000 – that are involved in the care of the gods.
While the temple is not open to non-Hindus, they can take pictures of the temple from the rooftop of the Raghunandan Library located nearby for a donation of Rs.100.
Walk along Puri Beach
One of the main highlights of Puri is its impeccably beautiful Puri Beach, which is known for its spectacular sunset and sunrise views, numerous food stalls that sell amazing sea food, and little shops where one can purchase souvenirs made of shells and patch work. Considered one of the cleanest beaches in India, the beach also boasts peaceful and serene surroundings along with being a sacred location that is visited by devotees to take dips in the holy water.
Apart from all other brilliant features of the beach, the one that stands out most is the event known as the Puri Beach Festival, which takes place in the month of November. The beach often has displays of beautiful sand sculptures as well by world renowned sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik.
Visit Narendra Tank
The Narendra Tank or Narendra Pokhari was constructed in the 15th century and is situated just around 1 km away from the Jagannath Temple, at the Mauza Dandimala Sahi. One of the largest tanks in Orissa, it is considered sacred by the locals and covers 16 ghats where pilgrims can find the opportunity to take holy dips in the water of the tank. The famous Chandan Yatra, also known as Chandana Pushkarini, also takes place here; all the deities from the Jagannath Temple are taken out and floated onto the water from this tank on this occasion, which takes place in the Baisakhi month of the Hindu calendar.
Visit Sudarshan Craft Museum
The Sudarshan Craft Museum was established by Sudarshan Sahoo in 1977, and showcases a brilliant collection of his art works that range from wood, stone and fibre glass carvings to paintings and handicrafts. While it is a great place for art lovers, the grounds of the museum also feature a Buddhist temple designed in the Japanese style, a library and a workshop for demonstrations of the art form.
This village is located around 15 km away from Puri, and is testament to the artistic side of Orissa’s population. Best known for the Pattachitra paintings, there are also other art forms that can be witnessed here like wood and stone carvings, papier mache, and palm leaf engravings. Even the homes in this village have their walls decorated with beautiful handpainted murals made by the residents themselves. This heritage crafts village is also the only place where the Patas, the decoration for Lord Jagannath’s throne is made.
The Swargadwar Beach is essentially a Hindu crematorium where over 40 cremations occur on a daily basis. Visitors to the beach are allowed to witness the rituals and ceremonies associated with the cremation, but it is advised that they remain respectful and not take pictures. Being frequented by locals and tourists alike, Swargadwar Beach tends to get crowded quite often. The beach is also dotted with stalls and small shops that sell local handmade products and jewellery.
Located just 3 km away from the Jagannath Temple, Gundicha Temple marks the ending of the Rath Yatra and the resting location of the deities for seven days. After these seven days, the deities are returned back to the Jagannath Temple, and the grounds remain empty for the rest of the year except for the numerous images present in the temple that depict Lord Jagannath’s life.
Constructed in Kalinga style architecture, the temple stands in the centre of a garden that is bound by walls on all sides.