Puri, Orissa

One of the four most prominent sites for Hindus (Char-Dham), Puri is a beautiful beach city known for housing the most well-known pilgrim spot, the Jagannath temple. Puri rests in the eastern part of Orissa and is the sacred seat of Lord Jagannath. Here the very famous Rath Yatra or the Car Festival is hosted every year which is attended by thousands of locals and travellers from all parts of the world.

History
Puri was once part of the kingdom of Kalinga which was set up by Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan Empire in 260 BC. That time, the place as inhabited by Sabaras, a tribe belonging to pre-Aryan and pre-Dravidian Austric linguistic group. Later in 1803, it came under the British rule followed by the rule of many rulers.

Jagannath Puri
Though Puri is home to numerous sacred places, the majestic temple of Jagannath remains the most popular one. The temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, a form of lord Vishnu. This 65-meter-high structure looks splendid and belongs to 12th century. It was built by Chodaganga on the Nilgiri Hill and is nestling with a 20-foot-high wall. The temple premises have a traditional porch, shrine, hall of offerings, etc. The temple has four entrance gates namely Singhadwara, Ashwadwara, Hathidwara and Vyaghradwara.

Jagannath Puri Yatra
The Puri temple is known for organising the grand annual Ratha yatra which is a larger than life chariot festival. The festival is dedicated to three principal deities, Jagannath (Vishnu avatar), Balabhadra (his brother) and Subhadra (his sister), which are carried on huge and lavishly decorated temple cars. The chariot for Jagannath is around 45 feet high and looks jaw dropping. During the profession, the chariots of three deities are carried to the Gundicha Temple where they are kept for nine days. Thereafter, they are brought back to Shri Mandir in bahuda yatra with pilgrims singing religious songs, playing drums and dancing.

How to Reach
By Air: Puri does not have an airport. Nearest airport is Bhubaneswar Airport 53 km away.
By Rail: Travellers can easily get regular trains to Puri from other major cities of the country.
By Road: There are regular buses connecting Puri with other major cities of the country.

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