The Jagannath Puri Temple (Oriya:ଜଗନ୍ନାଥ ମନ୍ଦିର) also known as Purushottama Kshetra is a sacred Hindu temple located in the coastal city of Puri in the state of Odisha.
As the name indicates, the temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath – the Lord of the Universe.
Also known as Shri Mandira or Bada Deula, the temple was built in the 12th century. The temple is an important pilgrimage destination for many Hindu traditions, particularly worshippers of god Krishna and god Vishnu, and part of the Char Dham pilgrimages that a Hindu is expected to make in one’s lifetime
The deities residing in the temple are Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and the Goddess Subhadra. These three deities are seated on a bejewelled platform or the Ratnabedi in the inner sanctum of the temple.
The Sudarshan Chakra, deities of Madanmohan, Sridevi and Vishwadhatri are also placed on the Ratnavedi.
The idols of these deities are made from wood and after a period of twelve or nineteen years, these wooden idols are ceremoniously replaced by newly carved exact replica’s made of wood of sacred trees. This ceremony is known as Navakalevara.
The temple is famous for its annual Rath Yatra, or chariot festival, in which three richly decorated chariots, resembling Puri Jagannath temple structures, are pulled through the streets of Puri to the Gundicha Temple (Garden House of Lord Jagannath) which is situated at a distance of 2 km from the Jagannath temple.
The idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra remain at the Gundicha Temple for eight days and then return back to the Jagannath Temple in Puri through a return journey known as Bahuda Yatra.
Puri Jagannath Temple Timings :
The temple remains open from 5 am to 12 midnight. During Sahana Mela or public darshan which takes place daily from 7 to 8 am, devotees are allowed to go right up to the deities without paying any fees. During Parimanik darshan or the special darshan, devotees have to pay a fees of Rs. 50 to go right up to the deities. Parimanik darshan happens after the dhupa pujas at around 10 am, 1 pm and 8 pm. At all other times devotees can view the deities from some distance for free.
Only Hindu’s and that too Indian’s are allowed to enter the premises of the temple. Foreigners and non-Hindu’s are not allowed to enter the temple premises. In fact, practicing Hindus of non-Indian descent and Hindus of non-Indian origin are also not allowed to enter the temple premises.
Visitors not allowed entry may view the precincts from the roof of the nearby Raghunandan Library and pay their respects to the image of God Jagannath known as Patitapavana at the main entrance to the temple.
Puri Jagannath Temple Structure :
The complex of the Jagannath Puri Temple is huge and is spread over an area of over 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2). It is surrounded by a high fortified wall.
There are more than 120 temples and shrines in the temple complex.
The main temple has four distinct sectional structures, namely –
Deula, Vimana or Garba griha (Sanctum sanctorum) where the three deities are placed on the ratnavedi
Mukhashala (Frontal porch)
Nata mandir also known as the Jagamohan (Audience Hall/Dancing Hall) and
Bhoga Mandapa (Offerings Hall)
The main temple is a curvilinear temple and crowning the top is the ‘srichakra’ or ‘Nilachakra’ of Lord Vishnu.
The temple tower was built on a raised platform of stone and, rising to 214 feet (65 m) above the inner sanctum where the deities reside, dominates the surrounding landscape.
The temple has four gates. Singahdwara or the Lion Gate is the eastern or the main entrance while the other three entrance are Hathidwara or the Elephant Gate (Nothern Gate), the Vyaghradwara or the Tiger Gate (Western Gate) and the Ashwadwara or the Horse Gate (Southern Gate).
In front of the main entrance, there is a beautiful Sun Pillar (Aruna Stambha) which is a monolithic shaft of chlorite having sixteen sides. It is 25 feet and 2 inches tall and 2 feet in diametre.
Temple Kitchen – Rosagraha :
The temple’s kitchen (rosaghara) is considered as the largest kitchen in the world and all the food that is offered to the deities daily is cooked in this kitchen only. Everyday, offerings are made to the Lord six times.
There are a total of 56 varieties of naivedhyas offered to the deities, known as Chappan Bhog.