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Puri Tourism

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Rath Yatra PuriPuri, the abode of Lord Jagannath is one of the four celebrated religious centers of India, needs no introduction. According to tradition Puri was once a thickly wooded hill inhabited by the Sabaras (Pre-Aryan and Pre-Dravidian tribes of the Austric linguistic family). The sunny beach at Puri is one of the finest in the world. Watching the sunrise in a symphony of colours is a wonderful experience. It is one of the most popular sea-side resorts where visitors from any part of the globe can comfortably relax.

The sacred city of Puri is at a distance of 60-km from Bhubaneswar . It comprises of one of the four holy dhamas of Hindus, the other three being Puri, Dwarka, Rameswaram and Badrinath. For the followers of Hinduism the pilgrimage of the temples across India is not complete without making the journey to Puri.

The pulsating city is situated on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. Earlier the port city it is said to have sent shiploads of devotees, carrying the messages of Lord Buddha for Java, Sumatra and the Phillipines. This fact answers the co-existence of the various maths and monasteries in the city. The visit to many of these will bring peace to your mind and soul.

According to Cunningham the ancient name of this town was Charitra mentioned by the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang as Che-li-ta-lo. But the restoration of the word Che-li-ta-lo as Charitra and its identification with the town of Puri is open to doubt. The importance of the town as a seat of Vaisnavism increased when Chodaganga Deva constructed the temple of Purusottama Jagannath and installed the image of the deities. Thereafter, it become famous as the abode of Purusottama and was popularity called Purusottama Kshetra.

Under the Mughal rule (1592-1751), Orissa for the purpose of Revenue Administration was divided in to three circars, namely, Jaleswar, Bhadrak, and Kataka, each of which was subdivided into Mahals or Dandapatas and the Mahals were again subdivided into Bishis. Puri formed a part of Kataka circar. The conquest of Orissa by the British in 1803 set forth great changes in revenue divisions and political relations. In June 1804, the Province was divided in to two divisions, namely, the northern and southern divisions, the river Mahanadi, forming the natural boundary.

Shri Jagannath Temple
The Temple of Lord Jagannath (Lord of the Universe) built during the 12th century A.D. by Chodaganga Deva dominates the landscape for kilometers around. Being the tallest temple (65 metres) in Orissa, it is one of the most magnificent pieces of monuments of India.

Rath Yatra Puri
Rath Yatra Puri offers a number of colourful fairs and festivals such as Chandan Yatra, Snan Yatra (Bath festival), Ganesh Puja, etc., but it is the Car Festival (Rath Yatra ) that marks the climax - an annual sojourn of the three deities riding their lofty chariots to their respective huge cars. These chariots or Rathas are pulled along the Bada Danda by lakhs of devotees to Gundicha temple over a kilometre.

At Gundicha the deities take new apparels every day and after a lapse of 8 days return to the main shrine riding the same Rathas. At the termination of the Yatra, the cars are broken up into pieces and religious relics are made from them. The images of the deities are also disposed of at intervals depending on astrological calculations. Thus, every year new chariots are built and new images are installed as prescribed in the religious text. The Rath Yatra symbolizes Krishna's departure to Mathura from Gokul.

The Temple of Seven Mother Goddesses
This temple is situated on the embankment of a big sacred pond, Markandeya Soravara. This reminds us of the similar temple build at Dasasvamedha Ghat of Yajpur built in the 10th century by the Somavamsi Kings. Brahmi, Maheswari, Andri, Kaumari, Vaisnavi, Varahi and Camanda are known as the seven mother Goddesses. Sometime Narasimha replace Vaisnavi, a female from the man-Lion incarnation of Lord Vishnu. However, the Shrine of the seven mother goddess at the pond Markanda proves very well that once upon a time Puri was a bonafide Sakta Pitha and Goddess Vimala was the presiding deity of this pitha.

Fairs and Festivals
Puri offers a plethora of colourful fairs and festivals round the year. However the Ratha Yatra or Car Festival, Puri Beach Festival, Ganesh Puja, and Jhulana Jatra are among the more widely celebrated ones.

Few of he festivals : Akshyaya Trutiya, Gahma Purnima, Makara Sankranti, Ashokashtami, Ganesha Chaturthi, Nuakhai, Basanta Panchami, Hingula Yatra, Prathamastami, Baseli Puja, Janmastami, Raja Sankranti, Chaitra Parba, Kartika Purnima, Rama Navami, Deepavali, Khudurukuni Osa, Savitri Brata, Dhanu Yatra, Kumar Purnima, Shamba Dasami, Dola Purnima (Holi), Lakshmi Puja, Sital Shashti, Durga Puja, Magha Saptami, Visuva Samkranti, Dusserah, Mahashiva Ratri, Viswakarma Puja.

The Beach
The fine white sands of Puri beach and the roar of the breakers rolling in from the Bay of Bengal have fascinated visitors throughout the years. The local fishermen, with their catamarans and wide-brimmed cane hats, are also expert masseurs. With excellent hotels and guesthouses, the Puri beach is an ideal holiday spot.

How to reach
The nearest airport is at Bhubaneshwar (60 km), the state capital. Private buses and minibuses to Puri are also available from Bhubaneshwar, Konark, Berhampur, Taptapani, Sambalpur and Calcutta. Puri is also linked to other cities in Orissa and the country by train.

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