Experiencing the temple town of Puri, Oddisha

From Kolkata to Puri 

Trip Duration– Dec 7, 2018 to Dec 8, 2018

It was like “to kill two birds with one stone” ☺

We visited Kolkata from Faridabad to meet our elder son who is studying in IIM Kolkata. Our younger son who is studying in IIT Delhi was also free due to winter vacations. So, the trip was planned for Jagannath puri accordingly.

The Shree Jagannath Temple of Puri is an important Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath, a form of lord Vishnu, located on the eastern coast of India, at Puri in the state of Odisha.

The God Mahaprabhu (LORD VISHNU) Jagannath, Badathakura Balabhadra and the Devi Subhadra constitute the main trinity of deities worshiped at the temple. The temple iconography depicts these three Gods sitting on the be-jewelled platform or the Ratnabedi in the inner sanctum

We were 4 members in total, Myself, my wife and my two adult sons.

In and around Temple:

We reached Puri station @4:35 AM by train DURONTO EXPRESS (22201). Puri station itself was well maintained. As we reached station, a lot of Auto drivers, Car drivers approached to take us to our destination. We had already booked “Hotel Sonali” which was adjacent to Puri beach. Hotel personnel have already sent a taxi which took us to our pre-booked hotel. Once we reached the hotel, we contacted a panda, whose contact number we found from one of my friend. It is advisable to do so to prevent getting robbed by other pandas inside the temples. Panda greeted us in our hotel and told us to gather at “SinghaDwara” @06:30 AM. No mobiles, purses, leather belts are allowed in the temple. We took bath and became ready for temple. As per panda’s suggestion, we left our all belongings in hotel itself and brought with us only single mobile and cash amount.

At SinghDwar Jagannath temple

As soon as reached the “SinghaDwara”, panda was already there and asked us to deposit mobile phone and Chappals in the cloak room which was there. 

We with our panda at Puri temple

It charges 10/- per item. Then panda asked us to follow him. On the way he helped us to wash our hands and feet.

We were very excited and were following the panda rigorously ☺

In front of Jagannath Puri Temple south gate

First we had darshan of dome of temple as was guided by Panda and helped us to do the Darshan very well. The darshan was indeed a feast to our eyes and soul. We also visited all other temples inside the temple complex like Bimla Devi (Shakti peeth) temple, Kanchi Ganapati temple, Ekadasi Mata temple etc. Our panda explained each and every details of temple and its four gates. The structure is inspired by Kalinga art. Then he took us near the main garbh grah of temple. 

In Front of Jagannath Puri Temple

Even not being overcrowded, a lot of hustle and bustle was there. Panda helped to explore the entire temple and narrated the story about the temple and other small temples situated within the complex.

After the Darshan, panda asked if we want to buy Prasad for our home and also if we want to have Mahaprasad (eat Prasad which is prepared in large kitchen in the temple itself, which is considered as the largest kitchen in the world.). On our confirmation, he asked to pay Rs 551 and 861 (including GST) for readymade Prasad (which we can take with us to home) and freshly prepared Prasad which we have to eat there itself) respectively. The receipts were also provided to us for above-mentioned amount. Readymade Prasad was immediately handed over to us which our panda took from us. He took that Prasad to main Deities in the temple and offered them this Prasad for Bhog purpose. We again got a chance for darshan as panda asked us to accompany him while he was offering the bhog. Then he returned us the Prasad. For eating Mahaprasad he asked us to come to temple at 1:00 PM by that time the Mahaprasad will be ready.

It was around 10:30 AM by that time. We explored the local market then took an auto to visit local temples around in puri. There are many temples out of which Gundicha temple is very famous one. Also enjoyed fresh coconut water many times.

Enjoying coconut water at puri market


My both sons enjoying flute at Jagannath Puri Temple market

Gundicha Temple History

The Gundicha temple is also referred to as the Garden House of Lord Jagannath. It stands in the middle of a beautiful garden, with walls on all the sides. It is situated about 3 km from the main temple of Jagannath which is known as the Shrimandira. The Gundicha temple is named after Gundicha, the queen of Indradyumna who built the temple.

At Gundicha temple Puri

The Gundicha temple has no activity throughout the year except for the nine-day period when the Ratha Yatra takes place when Lord Jagannath is worshipped here. A day before the world-famous Ratha Yatra in Jagannath Puri is Gundicha marjana. Gundicha marjana is the cleaning of the Gundicha temple to welcome Lord Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra. They stay here for seven days during the Ratha Yatra celebrations in Puri.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would Himself clean the Gundicha temple accompanied by several devotees. He used to do this to set an example and to instruct others. While cleaning the Gundicha temple, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to shed tears, and at times He continued cleaning with those tears.  Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to gather all the straw, dust and grains and deposit it in His cloth and throw it outside the temple premises. All the other devotees who were cleaning the temple would follow His example.

The custom in worshiping of the deities at Gundicha temple is that Brahmin temple servants offer puja instead of the daitas (traditional non-Brahmin servitors of Jagannath). 

The chief ritual celebrated in the Gundicha Temple during the Ratha Yatra is on the fifth (Panchami) day of the Ratha Yatra known as Hera Panchami (Hera means to see). This festival attracts a large number of devotees, who have come to participate in the Ratha Yatra festival. Whereas Lord Jagannath visits Gundicha temple, His consort Lakshmi is left behind in the main temple of Puri. On the Hera Panchami day, an angry Goddess Lakshmi arrives, in the form of Subarna Mahalakshmi, at the Gundicha temple. She is taken inside in a palanquin and worshipped by the priests at Gundicha temple, who also take Her to the sanctum sanctorum to meet Lord Jagannath. The couple is seated face-to-face in the sanctum of the Gundicha temple.

During this time there is a heavy rush of devotees at the temple for darshan. Lakshmi requests the Lord to return home and the Lord gives His consent by offering Her agyan mala (a garland of consent), which she accepts and leaves for the main temple in the evening. On Her way out, to signify Her anger Lakshmi orders one of her attendants to damage a part of Lord Jagannath’s chariot, Nandighosha. This custom is known as Ratha Bhanga (breaking of the chariot). After this, she hides behind a tamarind tree outside the Gundicha temple and later goes home clandestinely by a different path known as Hera Gohri Lane, as she is scared of the repercussions for Her unruly act.

As per custom, during Lord Jagannath’s stay in Gundicha temple, the main temple kitchens stop cooking Mahaprasad. The Gundicha temple kitchens are repaired and food is prepared here to offer to Lord Jagannath. The second last day of the festival is known as Sandhya Darshan, (evening prayers). This day is considered the most auspicious day to have darshan of Lord Jagannath. Thousands of devotees come here for darshan and Mahaprasad.All the temples were very good and we enjoyed a lot at Narendara tank which has a huge pond there. 

At Narendra Tank

We were back to main Jagannath temple before 01:30 PM to have our Mahaprasad.

All about Mahaprasad and RasoiGhara

Before having the Mahaprasad, our panda helped us to explore the world’s largest kitchen called “Rosaighara“. All food is cooked following rules as prescribed by Hindu religious texts, the food cooked is pure vegetarian without using onions and garlic. Cooking is done only in earthen pots with water drawn from two special wells near the kitchen called Ganga and Yamuna.

Then panda took us to Anand Bazar area of temple and went away to collect Mahaprasad for us. It was offered to each of us on pattals i.e banana leaves. A huge variety was there but I think children will not like this as it consists of rice, daal and several other items most of which is not liked by children. At last we were offered Rabri, which was very tasty indeed and satisfied our taste buds. ☺

It was around 3:00 PM by now. Now we got ready to visit Puri’s next attraction Puri Beach. It took us hardly 10 minutes to get there. This is one of the wonderful destinations for holidaying where sun kissed beaches wet your feet and gentle wind simply elevates you from the earthy odor to the clouds. This beach will make you feel as if you are in dream world. Beach lovers extremely relish holidaying here as the beach enamors a bewitching opportunity to undergo its wild sea waves and enjoy water sports activities. Puri beach is a thrilling place to view romantic sunrises and sunsets. The golden sands and the thunder of the breakers appearing from the Bay of Bengal have mesmerized tourists throughout the years and are the synonyms to the beach.

Watching sunset at Puri beach


We all at Puri Beach

The beaches of Puri are also renowned for the sand sculptures created particularly by the internationally famed Sudarshan Patnaik. The subjects are generally inspired by sculptures covering the temple walls, characters and episodes from the mythology and also the contemporary events. An entire beach stretch can be completely yours given the immense number of beaches in Odisha (Orissa) and a comparatively lower number of fun lovers, the city being a popular pilgrimage point for Indians.

A comparatively clean and quite place for sunbathing and a relaxed swim can be found at the eastern end. 

It was good experience to be there on beach and we spend around 3 hours in the beach itself. Then we visited the puri beach market and did some shopping. 

Shopping at Puri beach market

4 Comments

  • soma Chakraborty says:

    Naveenji,

    It was quite a delight to read your extensive travelogue. It is quite interesting and very well written and also has come as a boon for us as we are also planning a puri trip this March and was desperately searching for a known Panda who could guide us through the entire tour.

    I would request you to please share the name and contact number of the panda so that I can contact him before we reach.

  • Veena says:

    Hi Naveen
    Very good and detailed article. I am planning to visit Puri next week can you please give me the name and number of the Panda.
    Thanks
    Veena

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