Jagganath temple is situated in Puri, at the eastern coast of India in the state of Orissa. It is an all Hindu temple following Vaishnav traditions and is one of the most important pilgrimage destination in India. Lakhs of people flock to Puri every year to seek blessings and be showered with good luck. The temple is mainly dedicated to lord Jagganath who is thought to be an avatar of Lord Vishnu, the creator of the universe. It is said that Lord Vishnu comes to Puri every day to dine and thus a great deal of importance is attached to food at the temple. A mahaprasad of 56 items is offered to Him every day and then distributed to the devotees who are said to seek spiritual redemption through it.
King Anantvarman Chodaganga of the Ganga Dynasty built Jagannath Temple in the 12th Century as per the suggestion of Kendupatna copper-plate inscription of his descendant Narasimhadeva. However, according to temple narratives, it was founded by Anangabhima-deva II, son of Anantvarman. This just goes on to show that the construction of the temple either went on during the reign of Anangabhima-deva II or it was renovated during his reign. It was also further developed more intricately during the reigns of the subsequent holders as well.
Jagannath Temple is recommended for any person who wishes to seek blessings of the Lord. However, as per the rules, only Hindus are allowed in the temple and people of no other castes can enter.
The temple has three deities installed- Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra. These three wooden deities are seated on huge thrones. Lord Jagannath is considered as a form of Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna and thus the Lord of the Universe. His worship is considered extremely important in every household in Odisha as Lord Jagannath is known to promote harmony, peace and tolerance in the world.
The architecture of Jagannath Temple follows a similar pattern like most of the Odiya temples. The main shikara of it rises above the others and everyday a different coloured flag is tied to the top by the priests. There is also a wheel on top of Jagannath Temple called as Neel Chakra (Blue Wheel) which is made out of eight different types of metals called as asta dhatu. Every year on the night of Ekadasi, a lamp is lit on the top of the temple. There are four gates through which one can enter, There are four gates: the eastern Singhadwara (Lion Gate), the southern Ashwadwara (Horse Gate), the western Vyaghradwara (Tiger Gate), and the northern Hastidwara (Elephant Gate). The Lion Gate is actually the main gate which has beautiful labyrinthine carvings and structures. There is also a temple called as Narasimha Temple adjacent to the main temple which was constructed way before the Jagannath temple.
Mahaprasad is the term applied to the food offerings made to lord Jagannath in the holy temple every day. It is said mythologically that Jagannath temple is the place where Lord Vishnu comes to eat every day. 56 dishes are prepared as Prasad and offered to him and Maa Bimala in the Grand Temple. After making offerings, the food is available amongst the devotees to come and feast on the delectable food. The kitchen of the Jagannath Temple has the capacity to feed over a lakh people. What’s’ intriguing about it is that all the food is prepared in earthen pots only on wood fire and the meals are pure vegetarian. Seven pots are stacked on top of each other and placed on the wooden fire to be cooked. Surprisingly, it has been noticed that the food right on top of the stack always gets cooked first and then the ones below. The offerings include different varieties of cooked rice, vegetables, curries , sweet and spicy dal, sweet dishes, cakes and dry confectionaries made out of sugar, wheat flour, milk solids, ghee, cheese and many more indianised spices and flavors. Most of the residents in and around Puri depend on this wide spread of mahaprasad to entertain their guests on social occasions. Tourists also carry back the mahaprasad home to shower the others with Lord Jagannaths blessings.
Rath Yatra means the ‘Festival Of Chariots’. It is the procession that is taken out in the honor of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Goddess Subhadra. It is believed that every year Lord Jagannath visits his birthplace Mathura for a few days and to ensure that his wish is fulfilled, this yatra is conducted from the Jagannath temple to the Gundicha Temple. Devotees believe that initially when the chariot is being pulled, Lord Jagannath refuses to move and only after multiple trials and hours of efforts does the Rath move. However, one week before the yatra, the temple doors are shut for the visitors as it is believed that Lord Jagannath wishes to rest during this period before starting the long journey to Gundicha Temple. After reaching the Gundicha Temple, the deities rest there for nine days before starting the return journey to Puri.
The entry in Jagannath Temple is absolutely free however, one can take paid entry if they want to seek blessing by taking a closer look at the deities and the cost of the same is nominal.
The Rath Yatra is going to be starting on the 14th of July 2019 from the Jagannath Temple.
Darshan can be done all days of the week from 5 am to 11 pm. Different rituals take place throughout the day, every day. The general timings are fixed and a detailed representation of the same can be found on their official website
Puri has more or less pleasant climate throughout the year and hence anytime will be a good time to visit. The ideal months would however be from December to February when the climate is cooler and less humid. It is also comparatively lass crowded than during the other times of the year.
Jagannath Puri temple is located in Puri, a city in the heart of Orissa which is a state in India.