Amazing Puri Jagannath Temple, India

Puri Temple Jagannath, Odisha,

Lord Jagannath temple, dedicated to the Lord of the Universe, was built in  the 12th century and  is a unique one located in Puri, Odisha. It is an important pilgrimage center for the Hindus across India and is one of the 'Char Dhams' (four divine sites) located in all four directions of India. This temple is well-known for its grandeur, beauty, fascinating sculptures. On one's first visit, one will be struck by the majestic towers and impressive architecture of small several towers in the complex. The  temple  is  designed to resemble a human body, symbolic of  the Hindu philosophy that  ''the God is not just in the temple but within every human being, every living creature''. The temple  was built over its ruins by Anantavarman Chodaganga Dev(1077-1150), the ruler of Kalinga. The temple assumed its present shape under Ananga Bhima Dev in1174 AD.

Entrance, Jagannath Temple, Puri Odisha  India

King Indradyumna (probably  of the Avanti region region), the ruler of the territory, is said to have built this temple  with the idols  carved from a special log of wood he found on the sea shore. He sought  the help of Vishwakarma (in the guise of an artist), the architect of Gods to design the idols. The lord, who himself appeared in the guise of  a carpenter, agreed to carve the wooden idols on condition that there should not be any interference before completion of the idols. A couple of weeks later, driven by anxiety about the well-being of the carpenter, the queen along with king opened the door to see the carpenter at work. To their dismay,  he abandoned his work, leaving the idols unfinished. The idols were devoid of hands. An astral divine voice (Assarere) told the king to install the idols in the temple.  

god,Jagannatha, goddess  subhadra and god Balabhadra

Unlike other Hindu temples, where the idols are made of stone or Panchaloga (an alloy of 5 metals including gold), here the idols are made of wood, that too incomplete. Though as per temple Agama - temple Sastra, it is inauspicious to worship unfinished idols, still millions of people visit this exotic  temple and worship the idols

Jagannath Temple, Puri, Odisha,

Temple worship was stopped  after 1558 during the occupation of  Muslim  rulers of Afghan region.  Later when Ramachandra Dev established an independent kingdom at Khurda in Orissa the Jagannath temple was sanctified and the deities were reinstalled.

Tradition has it, the temple administration, for centuries, have been taken care of by communities called  sevayats. Gajapati, king of Puri is the first sevayat of the temple and nearly 75 sevayats look after the  various temple duties such as pooja rituals, maintenance, prasada, etc., for the temple on any given day sharing different set of duties.

The presiding deity here is Lord Jagannath (Lord of the Universe), an incarnation of lord Vishnu and is
worshiped along with his brother Shri Balabhadra (Balarama) and sister Subhadra Devi   here. The unusual feature here  is the idols are made of Neem (Margosa ) wood placed on the bejeweled  platform (Ratna bedi). They  are replaced by new ones  as per proper temple Agama rules every two 12 years on an auspicious day with elaborate ceremony with  devotion.

The Puri Temple complex is spread over a 10 acre land and is built on a mammoth raised platform. The impressive 214 tall tower has a metal wheel. There are  as many as 30 small temples in addition to shrines dedicated to  Maha Lakshmi, Lord Narasimha, Kanchi Ganapathy, Goddess Saraswathi and Gowri and they are around the main sanctum.

The massive area of the temple  complex has four segments : Bhuj Mandir, Nata Mandir, Jagamohana and Deul. Jagannath Temple has four entrances from four directions  and near the eastern gate, there is a huge pillar at the entrance known as Aruna sthamba which, it is believed, belonged to the Sun temple of Konark and was shifted to Puri. The 22 steps at the main entrance  are known as Baaisi Pahachas and are replete with the Hindu spiritual significance.
Apart from Lord  Jagannatha, Lord Balabhadra, Lord Subhadra the  Sudarshan Chakra, deities of Sridevi, Madanmohan and  Vishwadhatri are also worshiped. The temple has two huge compound walls, the outer one known as Meghanada Pracira and the inner one known as Kurma Pracira. Devotees worship Lord Shiva at Biswanath mandir; situated to the left of the Baisi Pahacha before entering the sanctum sanctorum.  Inside the sanctum the wooden idols of - Jagannath , Balaram and Subhadra, are installed on the massive raised platform measuring 16 feet long, 13 feet wide and 4 feet high known as Ratnavedi or Mahavedi. As in other temples the idols are adorned with large jewels on  - hira , mukta and pannais.

Jagannath Temple of Puri, Orissa - Some Amazing facts:

01.  It is one of the oldest temples in India, first built in 1100s AD,

02. There is no untouchability in the temple premises. Poorest and the downtrodden can freely worship and offer the humble fare of khichadi to Lord Jagannath in earthen pots.This is the universal offering in this temple.

03. Sri Jagannath Puri Temple with high-fortified wall is spread over an area of approximately 400,000 square feet. There are at least 120 temples and shrines in the entire temple complex. Fortificaion was done in view of many raids from the Muslim rulers of Delhi centuries ago.

Puri, Odisha, Rath (chariots) Yartra,

04. The annual famous Rath Yatra, a chariot festival in which a procession of the three main temple deities, Lord Jagannath, Goddess Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra , is taken out on  three beautifully decorated chariots in the months of June or July every year.

05. The entire temple complex of Jagannath uses the services of over 6,000 priests  with over 14,000 people serving as the assistants and attendants of the priests. Then, there are numerous pilgrim guides who take devotees on a complete tour of the Jagannath Puri Temple. 

06. Ritual chakra and flags at the top shikhara of Puri temple of Jagannatha  are also related to Sudarshana Chakra. The red flag (12 or 14 Feet) denotes that Jagannath is within the building.

07.The other place that draws large crowds in the temple complex is Ananda Bazaar (The market area of  Mahaprasad near 22 steps)  where the bhog and delicacies  are on sale.

08. This temple has the unique distinction of giving  Prasad - food to the devotees from morning till 11 PM and the kitchen here is the largest one in the world.

After a visit to this massive  temple. many devotees say their blissful experience remains etched in their mind for some time after return to their place and in this euphoria they are convinced to face challenges in life with more determination and better focus.

Puri "Jagannath Temple, Orrisa". Retrieved 2006-09-20.