While several temples have vanished or have declined in importance, the great temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri is still a living and vibrant temple. Over the centuries it has attracted kings, conquerers, religious teachers, devotees and pilgrims. In the minds of the millions of Indians, Orissa is the land of Jagannath. This temple of Lord Jagannath ['Lord of the Universe'] at Puri is one of the most sacred pilgrimage spots in India, one of the four abodes [dhamas] of the divine that lie on the four directions of the compass.
The Orissan temples broadly pertain to three orders locally known as the Rekha-deul, Pidha-deul and Khakhara-deul.
The sanctum with the curvilinear shikhara [rekha] is called the rekha deul and the mandapa with the (jagamohana) with a pyramadical roof of tiers(pidhas) is known as pidha deul. In a typical Orissan temple the latter two form the component parts of a single architectural scheme.
The later Orissan temple adds in front two more mandapas known as the nata mandapa [dancing hall] and the bhoga mandapa[hall of offering] in the same axis. It is however to be noted that in the earliest group of Orissan temples the Pidha deul is wanting and the mandapa is a rectangular pillared hall covered by a low flat roof of two sloping tiers with a clerestory in between. Temples of the third order viz Khakhara deul are are only six being known from Bhubaneshwar. An oblong plan and a wagon–vault roof, characterize them.
The temple of Jagannath Puri is a rekha deul with curvilinear tower on a pancha ratha plan and was built by Ananta Barma Chodaganga Dev during 12th century A.D. and was completed by Ananga Bhima Dev. This temple is one of the tallest monuments in the country, height is about 214 feet from the ground level. It stands on an elevated platform of stone measuring about 10 acres, which is located in the heart of the down town and presents an imposing sight. The temple is bounded by two enclosures. The inner enclosure is 400' x 278' and is known as kurma bedha.
The outer enclosure is of 665' x 644' with the height varying from 20'to 24' is popularly known as Meghanad Prachir. The temple has four gates at the eastern, southern, western northern midpoints of the Meghanad Prachir and are called Lions gate, Horse Gate, Tiger Gate and the Elephant Gate respectively. The temple has got four halls in a row such as Viman [main temple where Lord Jagannath is worshipped with brother Balabhadra, sister Subhadra and Sudarshan, Jagamohan (Audience hall], Natamandap (Dance hall ) and the Bhoga Mandapa [offering hall].
Lord Jagannath, the symbol of universal love and brotherhood is worshipped in the Temple along with Balabhadra, Subhadra, Sudarshan, Madhaba, Sridevi and Bhudevi on the Ratnabedi or the bejewelled platform.
The Deities, Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Chakra Sudarshan are made of margosa wood. When one lunar month of Ashadha is followed by another lunar month of Aashadha, the deities change their bodies during such a leap month. This is known as Navakalebar or New Body Ceremony. Last four new body ceremonies of the Lords were celebrated in the year 1950, 1969, 1977 and 1996. On such occasions, Puri witnesses the largest crowd in her fold.
The Deities are adorned with cotton and silk fabrics, Gold Ornaments studded with precious stones, flowers of different varieties, Tulsi leaves, sandal paste, camphor. These articles are used in the daily and periodical rituals. Some important Veshas or costumes of the deities are mentioned below.
1. Abakasha [Tadapa uttari] Vesha
This Vesha is done everyday after Mangal Aarati for the Abakash rituals. The clothes which are worn by the deities for this purpose are known as "Tadapa" and "Uttariya".
2. Sadha Vesha
This Vesha are the normal costumes of deities which they wear five times in a day, especially after each food offering. This Vesha comprises silken clothes and flower garlands.
3. Bada Sringar Vesha
This the last Vesha of the deities done everyday before the night "Pahuda". Bada Sringar Vesha is mostly of flowers of different colours and species. The deities wear silk clothes called 'Khandua'.
4. Chandan Vesha
This vesha is done for 42 days starting from Akshayya Tritiya day.
5. Ganapati or Hathi vesha
On the full moon day in the month of Jyestha, after the bathing ceremony is over, the deities are dressed like elephants. Lord Jagannath and Lord Balabhadra appear like Ganesh[the Elephant God].
6. Suna(gold) vesha
On the 11th day in the bright fortnight of Ashada, Suna Vesha takes place, when the deities are in their respective chariots near the Lion's gate of Sree Jagannath temple. The deities are decorated with many gold ornaments. This vesha is also known as 'Bada Tadhau' vesha and Raja Vesha is also done on Dashahara, Kartik Purnima,Pousha purnima and Dola purnima.
7. Banabhoji Vesha
It is done on the 10th day of the dark fortnight of Bhadraba. The deities are dressed as if going for a picnic, like cowherd boys.
8. Kaliyadalana Vesha
On the 11th day of the dark fortnight of Bhadraba, Lord JAGANNATH is dressed like Lord Krishna killing the Kaliya Serpent.
9. Pralambasura Badha Vesha
It is done on the 12th day of the dark fortnight of Bhadraba[September], Lord Balabhadra's killing of the demon Pralambasura is depicted in this Vesha.
10. Krishna Balarama Vesha
This Vesha is done on the 13th day of the dark fortnight of Bhadraba. Lord Jagannath and Balabhadra are dressed like Lord Krishna and Balaram.
11. Bali Baman Vesha
On the 12th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadraba, Lord Jagannath is dressed like "Bamana"[dwarf]. Bamana is the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
12. Radha-Damodara Vesha
From the 11th day of the bright fortnight of Ashwina to the 10th day of the bright fortnight of Kartika, this vesha takes place.
13. Thiakia[Laxmi-Narayan] Vesha
It is done on the 11th day of the bright fortnight of Kartika.
14. Bankachula Vesha
It is done on the 12th day of the bright fortnight of Kartika.
15. Adakia[Tribikrama] Vesha
This is done on the 13th day of the bright fortnight of Kartika.
16. Dalikia Vesha
On the 14th day of the bright fortnight of Kartika, this is also known as Laxmi-Nrisimha Vesha.
17. Nagarjuna Vesha
This vesha is occasionally done in the month of Kartika, when there are six days of "Panchaka". The lords are dressed like warriors. In the recent past, this besha has been done on 16.11.1994. The previous four dates were 26.11.1993, 3.11.1968, 16.11.1967 and 26.11.1966.
18. Ghodalagi Vesha During the period from the 6th day of the bright fortnight of Margasira to the 5th day of the bright fortnight of Magha[Basanta Panchami], the deities wear winter clothes.
19. Jamalagi Vesha
From Basanta Panchami to Dola Purnima, the deities wear modified Ghoda(Winter dress).
20. Padma Vesha
This vesha is done on any saturday or Wednesday between the new moon day of Magha and Basanta Panchami. "Padma" means lotus. The dress materials made of lotus, "Sola" lace and paper,gum etc.
21. Gaja Uddharana Vesha
This Vesha is done on the full moon day of Magha. This Vesha depicts a story in the puranas as to how Lord Vishnu saved an elephant from the attack of an Alligator.
Besides these, there are other veshas like Shradha and Chacheri veshas are done in the month of Margasira and Falguna respectively. The sevaks of temple who dress the deities with clothing and flowers are known as Puspalaks or Singharis.
View of Dol Mantapa in 1890
At repeated request of Vidyapati, Viswavasu took his son-in-law blindfolded to a cave where Neelamadhab was worshipped. Vidyapati was very intelligent. He dropped mustard seeds on the way. The seeds germinated after a few days,which enabled him to find out the cave later on. On hearing from him, King Indradyumna proceeded immediately to Odra desha [Orissa] on a pilrgimage to see and worship the Deity. The king was disappointed at the sudden disappearance of the Deity. The Deity was hidden in sand. The king was determined not to return without having darshan of the Deity and observed fast unto death at Mount Neela, when a celestial voice cried 'thou shalt see him'.
Temple Entrance - 1870
South Side of Jagannath Temple-1890
Afterwards the king performed a horse sacrifice and built a magnificient temple for Vishnu. Narasinmha Murti brought by Narada was installed in the temple. During sleep, the king had a vision of Lord Jagannath. Also anastral voice directed him to receive the fragrant tree on the seashore and make idols out of it. Accordingly the king got Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Chakra Sudarshan made and installed them in the temple.
There are festivals celebrated at the temple all throughout the year.
*Chandan yatra - chaitra Masarambha
*Sneha yatra - Jyestha Paurnima
*Rath yatra - shravan shukla
*Dashami to chaturdashi
*Karkat or dakshinayana sankranti
*Chitalagi amabashya - Shravana
*Rahurekha lagi - Bhadraba
*Saptapuri amabashya - Bhadraba
*Ganesh chaturthi - Bhadraba
*Rishi Panchami - Bhadraba 5th day
*Radhastami - Bhadraba - 8th day
*Parswava Parivartan - bhadraba 11th day
*Bamam janma or sunia - bhadraba - 12th day
*Anant chaturdashi - 1st sep bhadraba,14th day
*Indra govinda puja - 2nd sep bhadraba full moon day
*Sahasra kumbha mela - ashwina 8th day
*Dasahara - ashwina
*Kumar purnima - ashwina
The Rath Yatra
The Rath Yatra is the biggest festival celebrated each year in Puri – one of India’s holiest cities located on the eastern coast in the state of Orissa. The word rath means ‘chariot’ while yatra means ‘pilgrimage’ or ‘journey’. Every year, Lord Jagannath makes the journey along with his brother Lord Balabhadra and his sister Devi Subhadra, from their home at the Jagannath temple to the Gundicha temple three kilometres away where they visit their aunt for nine days.
Elaborate preparations start months before the festival day. 150 carpenters work for a two-month period on building the three huge chariots – one for each of the three deities. 20 sculptors then create the intricate wood carvings which decorate the chariots.
Carvings on the Chariot
The chariots are painted in bright colours and decorated with appliqué work. A whopping 8 million rupees (145,000EUR / 210,000CAD / 198,000USD) are spent on the preparations for the event.
Every year approximately 700,000 devotees from all over India and different parts of the world come to Puri on July 16th to witness the Rath Yatra. This is the only time of the year that non-Hindus have the chance to catch a glimpse of Lord Jagannath [as they’re not allowed into his temple] As Jagannath is a manifestation of Lord Krishna, this is a particularly important event for Hare Krishna devotees.
On the morning of the Rath Yatra, Puri beach is crowded with pilgrims who are busy taking an early morning dip in the Bay of Bengal.
The Three Chariots are Ready
Grand Road, the wide thoroughfare in front of the Jagannath temple where the three chariots stand, ready for the journey, already crowded with devotees by early morning. There are long lines at stalls offering breakfast and prasad.
There is a festive air as devotees sing and dance, playing drums and cymbals, chanting ‘Jai Jagannath!’ or ‘Hare Krishna’.
A series of elaborate rituals prepare the deities for their journey. The idols are fed 20 dishes specially prepared for them by cooks, dressed in elaborate and colourful clothes and decorations, and swayed rhythmically as they were carried out of the temple by priests and placed in their respective chariots. The police, dressed in their distinctive khaki uniforms and wielding extra-long lathis [wooden sticks], control the crowd and keep Jagannath fans from getting too close to the idols.
Chariots protected by the Police Officers during the Procession
The 200-foot long ropes attached to the chariots are pulled by devotees and mostly police officers, who try to maintain security as thousands surge forward and try to pull or at least touch the ropes which are believed to wash away sins and bring good fortune.
Balabhadra’s chariot is the first to make the trip, followed by Devi Subhadra’s chariot and then Lord Jagannath. They stay at their aunt’s place for nine days before making the trip back to their home in the Jagannath temple.
1.Dwarpitha and Mangal Aarati at 5 a.m
The door opens early in the morning in the presence of five specific sevayats after verification of the “seal” given by a particular sevayat in the last night. Soon after the opening of the door, Mangal Aarati is performed.
2.“Mailam” at 6 a.m.
“Mailam” is a word used in Sri Jagannath Temple, which means change or removal of dresses and flowers etc. At this time some specific sevaks change the clothes, flowers, Tulasi leaves of the deities worn on the previous night. After removal of clothes, the clothes known as “Tadap” and “Uttariya” are worn by the deities.
3. “Abakash” – 6 a.m. to 6.30 a.m.
Purificatory rites like brushing of teeth and bath is known as “Abakash”. At this time, Temple Jyotishi [Astrologer] reads out the tithi[day and date] and other astrological details of the day and according to that, that day's rituals are performed.
4. “Mailam” 6.45 a.m.
At this time deities change their clothes [Tadap and Uttariya] and wear another set of clothes. A sevak known as “Akhanda Mekap” keeps in the sanctum Akhanda Baitha i.e. one lamp which burns till “Pahuda” or the time of the retirement of the deities to bed.
5. “Sahanamela” – 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.
Though this is not a part of the rituals, but about one hour is spent to facilitate pilgrims to go up to “Ratnavedi” or inner sanctums to have a Darshan, without paying fees for it. On certain festive days, Sahanamela is held after “Sandhya dhupa” [Evening Puja or Sandhya Aarati in the month of Kartik] and after Sakaldhupa [in the month of Pausha]. Some times this darshan is not allowed for some special rituals of the deities.
6. “Beshalagi” – 8 a.m.
After Sahanamela the deities are again dressed up which can be witnessed from a little distance i.e.” Bhitara Katha”. At this time, Deities are also adorned with gold and precious stones to suit different festive occasions.
7. Rosha Homa Surya Puja and Dwarapal– 8 a.m. to 8.30 a.m.
While some sevayats are busy with vesha lagi or the Deities, Pujapandas at that time perform “Rosha Homa” [Fire Sacrifice] at the kitchen and “Surya puja” at the surya temple near “Mukti Mandap”. Then the images of two gate keepers named Jaya and Vijaya on the entrance of the Jagamohan of the Temple are worshipped.
8. Gopala Ballava Puja– 9 a.m.
The prescribed time is 9 A.M. This is the time for breakfast of the deities. At this time sweet popcorn [Khai], Khualadus, Coconut sweets [Kora], Ripe banana, Curd, and chipped coconuts etc. are offered as bhogas. Puja is performed in a brief manner with pancha upachar only.
9. Sakala Dhupa(Morning food offering) 10 a.m
At this time puja is performed by three Pujapandas with 16 Upachars or Sodasha Upachars. Three Pujapandas used to sit on Ratnasinhasana to worship three deities Shri Balabhadra, Subhadra, and Lord Jagannath. The Pujapanda who worships Lord Jagannath also worships Sri Devi, Bhudevi, and Sudarshan. The morning bhoga or food offered to the deities contains Rice, Kanika, Khechudi, Green leaves, Cakes etc. The local names of the Bhog are Pitha Puli, Hansakeli, Kanti, Enduri, Matha Puli, Kakatua Jhili, Bundia, Kadali Bhaja, Ada Pachedi [ginger tonic] etc.The cost of the dhoop Pujas and Ballavs are borne by the Temple Administration. Previously Raja-Superintendent of the temple born the cost of materials for preparation of Bhoga. So these Bhogas are also called “Raja Bhoga” or “Kotha Bhoga”.
10. Mailam and Bhoga Mandap:
After Morning Dhupa or Puja the Deities change their clothes and again Puja takes places in “Bhoga Mandap”, a place behind the Garuda pillar of Jagamohan. Huge quantity of Bhogas such as Rice, Dal, Curries, Saga and Cakes of different kinds etc. are offered to the Deities. Pujapandas worship this bhog with Pancha Upacharas. The cost of Bhoga Mandap offerings are not borne by the state or Temple Administration. This bhoga is mainly prepared to meet the need of different Mathas[Monasteries] and for sale to the general public. According to the demand, Bhogamandap Puja is made twice or thrice a day i.e. after “Madhyanha Dhoop” and “Sandhya Dhup” also.
11. Madhyanha [Afternoon food offering] 11 A.M. to 1 P.M.
Like Sakal Dhupa, this puja is also performed with Shodasha Upachar in the afternoon. The Bhoga items are more in number than that of Morning Dhupa. One can go near to the “Ratna Simhasan” for darshan by paying special Darshan fee of Rs. 10/- after Madhyanha Dhupa and Sakal Dhupa.
12. Madhyanha Pahudha - 1 p.m. to 1.30 p.m
If rituals have been performed in time and if time permits, the Deities retire for the afternoon.
13. Sandhya Aarati
In the evening again aaratis are performed after Madhyana Dhupa Mailam. On Ekadashi day, the deities change their clothes and wear another set after “Aarati” is over.
14.Sandhya Dhupa – 7 p.m. to 8 p.m
After “Sandhya Aarati” again Bhogas are offered to the deities in the same manner like Sakala and Madhyanha Dhupa but this time Bhoga amount is less in quantity and number. After Puja again lamp offering is made which is called as “Jaya Mangala Aarati”.
15.Mailam and Chandana lagi
After “Sandhya Dhoopa” deities change their clothes and are annointed with Sandal paste mixed with champhor, keshar and Kasturi. One can witness this ritual by paying special Darshan fees of Rs. 10/-.
16. Badashringar Vesha
After Chandan lagi, deities are dressed with Baralagi Patta [silken robes on which some portions of Geeta Govinda of Jayadev are woven in to the texture of these robes] and flower ornaments.
17. Badashringara Bhoga
This is the last bhoga of the day. Puja is offered with Pancha Upachar by the Puja Pandas with Pakhal [watered rice], Kadali bada, Kshiri, Kanji etc.
18. Khata Seja Lagi and Pahuda 12.00
The bedsteads of the deities are arranged. The Deity of “Sayan Thakura” is carried from Bhandarghar to Ratnavedi or Ratnasimhasana and place the deity near Lord Jagannath. Then follows offering of green coconut, betels and camphor aarati and then deities retire to their beds. The door is sealed then by the Sevayat [Talichha Mohapatra]. Temple is closed and no visitors or outsiders are allowed to remain inside.
This is in brief the daily rituals observed in the Temple. It is generally not possible to follow the time prescribed for each ritual on account of various practical difficulties. On the specific festive days, additional rituals are performed. As a result, changes in timings and alterations in the routine rituals are made.
As indicated above during Sahanamela, the devotees can go up to the “Ratna Simhasana” and pray to Lords, free of cost. Besides the pilgrims can go up to “Ratna Singhasana” at certain times paying a nominal fee Rs. 10/-, which is known as “Parimanik Darshana”. At other times the pilgrims can have their darshan from a little distance that is in “Jagamohan” and “Vitarakatha”. At the time of Beshalagi, one can have darshan near “Bhitar Katha” by buying a ticket of Rs. 1.50.
The town of Puri is situated along the seashore[i.e. the Bay of Bengal] in the State of Orissa.
State Capital Bhubaneswar is the nearest Airport otherwise known as " Biju Pattnaik Airport". The distance is 65 Kms. from Puri and can be covered in an hour by car. Indian Airlines operates flights from Delhi, Calcutta, Visakhapatna, Hyderabad, Raipur, Mumbai and Chennai.
Being a terminus on the SouthEastern Railway, Puri is directly linked with Delhi, Calcutta, Ahmadabad, Patna, Baidyanath Dham and Tirupati by train. Besides one can go to Khurda Road junction to the state capital Bhubaneswar to rail his way to Hyderabad, Chennai and Mumbai.
Only 60 Kms. away from Bhubaneswar by State Highway No-8, Puri has got a 35 Kms. Marine drive road way to Konark. The State capital is situated on both sides of Calcutta – Chennai National Highway No-5.