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Tourist Places To Visit In Puri
Puri is one of the most visited destinations of eastern India. The abode of Lord Jagannath, Puri constitutes one of the four Dhams or celebrated pilgrimage sites of India and one of the seven most holy places for the Hindus. A pilgrimage of temples in India is considered incomplete without a visit to Puri. The popularity of the city also lies in its beaches. With the Bay of Bengal washing its shores Puri is a preferred beach resort for many. Religious sanctity of the place combined with architectural splendour and seascape beauty has made Puri a much sought-after destination for tourists. From Jagannath Puri Temple to Chilka Lake, Puri Beach to Narendra Tank, here are the best tourist places to visit in Puri.
The sacred abode of Lord Jagannath or the Lord of the Universe, the Jagannath Temple is one of the most renowned temples not only in Orissa but in India. Thousands of devotees pour in from different parts of the country and the world to pay their homage to the presiding deity. The temple is an architectural splendour towering over its surroundings. Embellished with exquisite carvings and sculptures, the temple is a feast for the eyes. The architectural, historical and religious importance of the Jagannath Temple makes it Puri’s chief tourist attraction.
The temple opens at 5.00am and closes at 1.30pm. In the evening again it opens at 5.30pm and closes at 9.30pm. People of non-Hindu origin are not allowed entry into the temple.
The Jagannath Rath Yatra is an annual festival which is a gorgeous affair. Rath means chariot and Yatra means procession or journey. Every year from mid-June to mid-July, the idols of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra are taken out of the temple and placed on decorated chariots, drawn manually by millions of devotees who throng the city. They are taken to the garden temple Gundicha Ghar. At the end of the 10th day the idols return to the main temple. Such is the enormity of the festival that the Rath Yatra is covered live on television. It is a ceremony that cannot be given a miss for anyone visiting Puri.
Undoubtedly one of the most popular beaches of eastern India, Puri beach is defined by golden sands, fascinating views of the sunrise and sunset and charming beach resorts combined with lip-smacking sea food. Puri beach is also ideal for swimming which accounts for its popularity with tourists. Every year in the month of November, the Puri Beach Festival is organised by Indian Ministry of Tourism, the state of Orissa (Odisha), the Development Commissioner of Handicrafts and the Eastern Zonal Cultural Center of Kolkata.
Swargadwar meaning the gateway to the Heaven is a holy place devoid of the modern cultural offing. It is secluded and tranquil, preserving its sacred nature. It is attended by Hindu devotees who come here to take a holy dip in the sea.
Lake Chilka is Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon extending from Bhusandpur in Puri in the North to Rambha-Malud in Ganjan district in the south. It has some beautiful islands called Honeymoon, Somolo and Nalabana. It is also home to a phenomenal variety of migratory birds. Almost 160 different species of birds can be found here between November and February. Off the Satpada Island dolphins can also be spotted. It is a great place for nature lovers.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple was built in the 13th century and resembles the temples of Vaital Deul and Sisiresvara temples. In front of the temple there is a grand statue of Nataraja with ten arms.
Built in the 15th century this is one of the largest tanks in Orissa with 16 ghatas (bathing places). Many big and small temples exist around the tank. This is a holy tank where the Chandana Yatra of Lord Jagannath, also known as Chandana Pushkarini is annually celebrated.
Gundicha Temple is a lovely temple that graces the town of Puri, and is famously referred to as the garden house of Lord Jaggannath. The temple is encompassed by gardens on all four sides and is only 3 km from the main Jaggannath Puri Temple. So do ensure a tour of Gundicha, especially during the 9-day long sojourn of Rath Yatra festival.
Sudarshan Crafts Museum
Sri Sudarshan Sahoo established this museum back in the day to promote crafts of Puri, as well as to create a platform for the local folks to showcase their work. Art fans flock here not only to peruse the collection of sculptures, articles, handicrafts and paintings, but also to know more about the artists that have led to the evolution of the crafts in the region. Workshops for artists are conducted on the side while a gallery is dedicated for viewing.
Puri’s Baliharachandi Beach is a quieter, more off beat version of its other touristy beaches. If you have been to Puri Beach or are not in the mood for loud, bustling spaces then Baliharachandi Beach is for you. This place has very few folks, even fewer shacks and stalls. So you may not get the best food or services, but peace is a good trade-off. Baliharachandi falls on the way from Puri to Konark, and is beautiful with its sandy-sea shells and crabs running across the sea. Do make it a point to stop here.
Sakshi Gopal Temple
Sakshi Gopal Temple has a unique legend attached to it. It is said that Lord Vishnu came down to earth to see a village wedding. And thus at this place was built a shrine to honour that lila. People also believe that this temple is one of the sixteen built by Vajra, Shri Krishna’s grandson. Whichever lore is true, it doesn’t take away from the quiet beauty of this temple. It marks the entry point of Puri town, and welcomes you into the city of Jagdish Shri Krishna.
Nalbana Bird Sanctuary
Located on Nalbana Island, the Nalbana Bird Sanctuary is part of the Chilika Lake biodiversity. The brackish water of this island breeds many unique reptiles and birds. With open lush green farms and trees, birds migrate here all the time, while birdwatchers come here with their cameras and take away memories of a lifetime. Through different seasons, as many as 180 species of birds come here, from Goliath herons to pink storks, from raptors to spotted sandpipers, black-tailed godwits, black-headed ibis and flamingos. It’s a must visit at any time of the year.
Raghurajpur Artist Village
Raghurajpur Artist Village is a community of artists and painters near Puri, where tourists get to come face to face with the indigenous creators. The village is renowned for its Pattachitra paintings as well as stone carvings, paper maiche, palm leaf engravings and the Odisha folk dance — Gotipua. This is the only place where Jagannath Bhagwan’s throne is adorned and carved, and dates back to the 5th Century BCE.
Astaranga Beach is in Konark, very close to Puri. The word Astaranga literally translated to english means ‘sunset coloured,’ and that is what the sunset here is. Not eight coloured, but vivid nonetheless. As the sun takes a dip into the sea, the juicy yellows of the sky spread through the blues and start turning dark. The Astaranga village on the shore is populated by fishermen, small markets and a slow life. You can enjoy taking a stroll through the hamlet, picnic at the beach, swim in the sea or if you are there in season, then go see the Olive Ridley Turtles.
Even before the critically acclaimed Bollywood film Pipli Live, this town of Pipli was famous for its handicrafts and markets full of pretty figurines. If you come to Puri, you cannot miss Pipli Town’s crazy shopping spree. Pick up everything homeware here, from custom made pillow covers to dovars and bedsheets, buy locally made handicrafts, shoes, handbags as well as idols of gods and birds and flowers and animals. It’s a full day worth of fun for shopaholics.