Puri, the holy land of Lord Jagannath, has many names. It is mentioned in Puranas as Srikshetra, Shankhakshetra, Neelachala, Neeladri, Purusottama Dhama, Purusottama Kshetra, Purusottama Puri and Jagannath Puri. The word "Puri" in Sanskrit means 'town', or 'city and is cognate with polis in Greek. It is possible that Puri is a shortened name for Jagannath Puri or Purusottama Puri. In some records pertaining to the British rule, the word 'Jagannath' was used for Puri.Puri is endowed with one of the best beaches for swimming in India and is therefore also a popular beach resort, especially as it is positioned geographically so that both sunset and sunrise can be viewed from the beach.
Places to see:
The temple was built in the 11th century atop its ruins by the progenitor of the Eastern Ganga dynasty, King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva. The temple is famous for its annual Rath Yatra, or chariot festival, in which the three main temple deities are hauled on huge and elaborately decorated temple cars. Since medieval times, it is also associated with intense religious fervour.
The huge temple complex covers an area of over 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2), and is surrounded by a high fortified wall. This 20 feet (6.1 m) high wall is known as Meghanada Pacheri. Another wall known as kurma bedha surrounds the main temple. It contains at least 120 temples and shrines. With its sculptural richness and fluidity of the Oriya style of temple architecture, it is one of the most magnificent monuments of India.
|'Lion' of the 'Lion Gate'|
The temple has four gates in it. The Singahdwara, which in Sanskrit means The Lion Gate, is one of the four gates to the temple and forms the Main entrance. The Singhadwara is so named because two huge statues of crouching lions exist on either side of the entrance. The gate faces east opening on to the Bada Danda or the Grand Road. The Baisi Pahacha or the flight of twenty two steps leads into the temple complex. An idol of Jagannath known as Patitapavana, which in Sanskrit, means the "Saviour of the downtrodden and the fallen" is painted on the right side of the entrance. In ancient times when untouchables were not allowed inside the temple, they could pray to Patita Pavana. The statues of the two guards to the temple Jaya and Vijaya stand on either side of the doorway. The temple has four distinct sectional structures, namely -
- Deula, Vimana or Garba griha (Sanctum sanctorum) where the triad deities are lodged on the ratnavedi (Throne of Pearls). In Rekha Deula style;
- Mukhashala (Frontal porch);
- Nata mandir /Natamandapa, which is also known as the Jagamohana, (Audience Hall/Dancing Hall), and
- Bhoga Mandapa (Offerings Hall).
Sakshigopal Temple is a medieval temple dedicated to Lord Gopal located in the town of Sakshigopal on the Puri Bhubaneshwar highway in Orissa. The temple is built in the Kalinga style of temple architecture.
It is said that a poor young man of the village, which was named as Sakhigopal later, fell in love with the daughter of the village headman. However being of a higher economical status the headman opposed marriage between this young man and his daughter. The villagers went on a pilgrimage to Kashi including the headman and the young man. The village headman fell ill and was abandoned by fellow villagers. The young man tended to him so well that he soon got well and in gratitude promised his daughter in marriage to the young man. As soon as they returned to the village the headman went back on his promise asking the young man to produce a witness in support of his claim.
Lord Gopal impressed by the young man's devotion agreed to come and bear witness to the promise on one condition that the young man lead the way and he would follow, but the young man must never look back. He led the way to the Lord but near the village was a mound of sand on which as they passed, the man could not hear the Lord's footsteps and turned back. Immediately the Lord turned into a statue of stone rooted to the spot. The villagers were however so impressed that God himself came to back the young man's claim that the youngsters were married off and appointed as the first priests of the temple built in honor of Lord Gopal who came to bear witness known in Sanskrit as Sakshi.