Raghurajpur has been given a special place in India’s cultural map. This small village of Puri district of Orissa is known for its master Pattachitra painters. The famous Odissi dancer Kelucharan Mohapatra belongs to this famous place.
The village is bestowed with artisans depicting poetry on fine pieces of treated cloth, paper or dried palm leaves. God has also blessed this land with plenty of trees – palms, mango trees, coconut trees, jackfruit groves and many other tropical trees.
Mural paintings elaborating scenes from the epics Mahabharat and Ramayan on the outer walls of houses is a typical scene. Houses are usually neatly arranged in two rows facing each other. Small temples and the Bhagabat Tungi, a community meeting place can be found in the centre of the village. Goddess Bhuasuni is the presiding deity of the village with a temple dedicated to her.
Alarnath Temple, which is around 25 km from Puri in Brahmagiri is a popular pilgrimage destination for devotees of Lord Krishna. It is believed that during the Satya Yuga, Lord Brahma worshipped Lord Vishnu on a hill top, and pleased with him asked him to build a four-armed deity of Lord Vishnu from a single piece of black stone holding a conch shell, disk, club and lotus.
At the Alarnath Temple, Lord Vishnu is worshipped as Lord Alarnath. Garuda, Lord Vishnu’s eagle, can be found kneeling at the feet of the deity with hands folded in prayer. Rukmini and Satyabhama who are Lord Krishna’s queens, as well as an idol of Lord Chaitanya are found inside the temple.
A stone slab bearing impressions from Lord Chaitanya’s body is present in the temple and it is believed that the stone below Lord Chaitanya melted when he first lay in front of Lord Alarnath.
Satapada Dolphin Sanctuary is located on the eastern state of Orissa, at a distance of 50 km from Puri. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions of the state. Along with the beautiful dolphins, one gets the chance of viewing the exotic sunrise and sunset.
Only the fortunate ones can enjoy the view of dolphins at the dolphin view point. It is a place that children would love to visit and that is why it is highly recommended to visit the place along with friends and family. There are motor boat facilities that are arranged by the Dolphin Motor Boat Association. The rates of the boats are quite affordable.
At the dolphin view point, the engine of the motor boats are switched off in order to maintain tranquillity. One can spend a wonderful time seeing the dolphins during the early morning hours.
Govardhan Math is commonly referred to as the Bhogo Vardhan Math. It was one of the four cardinal maths founded in the 8th century by Adi Shankara in order to bring together different groups of sanyasis. The Govardhan Math is in charge of the Rig Veda. It is located within the city of Puri.
This monastery has historical connections with the Jagannath Temple with Jagannath (Bhairava) and Devi Vimala (Bhairavi) being the main deities worshipped. Today, devotees visiting the math can experience a life of spirituality and giving.
Modern day activities include a vedic education centre, a yoga school, Vyayama Shala which trains athletes of various kinds, a dispensary to take care of the health of pilgrims and Puri residents free of cost and a cow shed which is home to around 70 cows.
Bedi Hanuman Temple, as the name suggests, is the chained Hanuman temple and is a small temple by the sea towards the west of Chakranarayan Temple in Puri. It is also called the Daria Mahavir Temple; Daria means ‘sea’ and Mahavir is an alternate name of Lord Hanuman.
Once, when Hanuman who was in charge of guarding Puri against the rage of the sea went to Ayodhya without informing Lord Jagannath, sea water entered the city and damaged the temple. To ensure future security, Lord Jagannath chained Hanuman commanding him to be vigilant day and night.
The outer walls of the temple with images of different deities such as Anjana pampering a baby on her lap on the western side wall, an adorned pedestal holding female divinities on the northern side wall, and Lord Ganesha on the southern side wall add to the cultural glory of Puri.
Chakra Tirtha Temple which is 3 km away from the Jagannath Temple on the northern end of Puri is an important pilgrimage destination. It is also referred to as the Chakra Narayana Temple, Chakra Narasimha Temple or Chakra Nrusingha Temple. It is Lord Jagannath’s divine weapon, a large wheel in water is carved out of black granite and Chkranarayana, a statue of Lord Narayan, in the centre.
It is believed that long ago when a cyclone hit Puri, the wheel which was on top of the Jagannath Temple flew across the sky and fell at Chakratitha. It was at this time that the Daru, which is the log of wood used to carve the deities at the Jagannath Temple, came through the sea route and touched the ground at Chakratirtha for the first time.
The Jagannath Temple, one of the biggest and most famous temples of Odisha, is located in the coastal town of Puri. Countless devotees have visited the place in search of solace offered by the triad of the Jagannath Temple—Lord Jagannath (Lord of the Universe as the name suggests), Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra. The temple, with its magnificent aura, can take you to the classical era.
The tinkling bells, the stupendous 65-feet-high pyramid structure, the engraved walls with every detail carefully carved, the pillars depicting Lord Krishna’s life—all this and more draw lakhs of devotees every year towards the Jagannath Temple. The Jagannath Temple has the highest number of visitors during the Rath Yatra or the chariot festival which is organised every year. During the time, adorned chariots carrying idols of Lord Jagannath, Subhadra and Balabhadra are taken to the Gundicha Temple and are brought back to the Jagannath Temple.
Mausima Temple is midway between the Jagannath Temple and Gundicha Temple on the Grand Road in Puri. Goddess Mausima who is also known as Ardhasini is Lord Jaganath’s aunt, mother’s sister. It is believed that this Goddess saved Puri when the floods hit the city by drinking half the sea water. She, along with Kapalamochana Shiva, is believed to watch over Puri day and night.
Thousands of devotees pay their visits to the temple during the chariot festival of Lord Jagannath. During the festival, while chariots of the two other deities of the Jagannath Temple, Balabhadra and Subhadra, are directly drawn back to the Singha Dwara of Jagannath Temple, Lord Jagannath’s chariot stops in front of the Mausima temple for some time to accept the 'Poda Pitha' or rice cake from his aunt.
Other days when plenty of visitors visit the Mausima Temple are on the festivals of Mahasaptami and Mahanavami.
Shree Loknath Temple ranks next in popularity after the Jagannath Temple of Puri and is just 3 km away from the world famous Jagannath Temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and it is said that it was under a pond over here that Lord Shiva had hidden from Shani.
People believe that the Linga of this temple was mounted there by Lord Ramachandra. A natural spring of the adjacent Parvati tank ensures that this Linga contained in the small square-shaped container is always in water. Devotees who wish to see it can do so on the night before the Sivaratri, that is, on 'Pankadhar Ekadasi', when all the water is drawn out so that devotees can worship the Linga.
The divine grace of Lord Loknath is believed to remove pain and anguish, and people suffering from various fatal diseases have been found to be cured here through prayer.
Balihar Chandi Temple, a temple dedicated to Goddess Durga is situated 27 km south west of Puri when you travel towards Brahmagiri and Satapada. The beautiful temple stands on a sandy hill very close to the ocean. Devotees worship Goddess Durga as Goddess Balihar Chandi and hence the name.
Like many other temples in Puri, this temple too is linked to the Jagannath Temple owing to a ritual on the Mahanavami day in Ashwina. An image of Goddess Kali standing in Alidha pose on Lord Siva’s body and holding a skull and a severed head in her left hand can be seen at the base of the back Rahapaga of the temple.
This temple is situated on the banks of the river Bhargavi, making it not just a pilgrimage spot but beautiful scenic area too. The temple is located at the meeting point of river Bhargavi with the sea.
Swargadwar is a Hindu cremation ground in Puri. As the name suggests, it is believed by Hindus to be the gateway to heaven. People from all over India visit Swargadwar due to the various mythical stories attached to the place.
It is said that anyone who breathes his last in this holy place besides the sea is directly welcomed into heaven and attains complete salvation. Devotees bathe in the Swargadwar beach to gain ‘mukti’. The sacred Brahmadaru floated to the Puri beach right at this place is another mythical story that attracts tourists.
Puri Beach, on the shores of the Bay of Bengal is just 2 km away from the Puri Railway Station. The Puri Beach is a popular tourist attraction in the city and is considered to be one of the best beaches in India that is ideal for swimming.
Hindus also consider the beach to be sacred. The annual Puri Beach Festival displays sand art which draws plenty of tourists. International award winning local sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik’s work offers a visual treat and is a must watch if you are in Puri during the festival.
The rich golden sand on the long beach along the bay, the soothing breeze, the clear twinkling water and the breathtaking view of the sunrise as well as the sunset have made the beach a permanent attraction.
Balighai Beach is situated on the Puri-Konark Marine Drive road, just 8 kilometres from Puri. This unexplored beach of Orissa is a must visit. One can witness the meeting of calm waters of the river with the rough sea. The magical aura of the place draws visitors from across the country and it has also amazed foreigners. The pleasant weather and the rapidly flowing water along the beach define the beauty of the place. The area is also a perfect place for those interested in sunbathing.
The place also offers thrilling boat rides. It is also a place for rejuvenation where visitors are free to swim across in the water and revive their body, mind and soul. Watching the clear water and walking on the clean golden sand offers great delight.
Shree Gundicha Temple situated in the Gundicha square very close to the Puri bus stand is best known for the Rath Yatra festival. The temple is also known as the Gundicha Ghar or Gundicha Mandir. After the Jagannath Temple, the Shree Gundicha Temple is the second most prominent place of Lord Jagannath in Puri.
Except for the Car Festival, the temple is mostly deserted. However, it is well-maintained by the Jagannath Temple Administration. The temple flaunts the typical architecture of the Kalingan era. The 75 ft high and 430 ft long temple made of light grey sand stone is right in the centre of a beautiful garden and is surrounded by a wall.
When idols from the Jagannath Temple are brought to the Shree Gundicha Temple during the festival, they are placed on ‘Ratnavedi’ which is a throne. The idols enter through the west gate and exit through the east gate.
The Puri Konark Marine Drive is a 35 km drive joining the religious places Puri and Konark. The driveway is lined up with picturesque coastal forests on both sides. There are many beach resorts on the Puri Konark Marine Drive.
On the way, you can stop and pay your homage at the Ramchandi Temple, Panch Mukhi Hanuman Temple and Gupteswar Temple. The most preferred tourist spot on this drive is the Chandrabhaga Beach where boating facility can be availed if booked in advance.
The Ramchandi Beach which lies in the vicinity of the Puri Konark Marine Drive attracts many visitors too. You will also find boating facility here. Do not miss to witness the beauty of the rising and setting sun on this drive.