The holy city of Puri, 60 km from Bhubaneswar, is one of the four holiest points of pilgrimage for Hindus.
The reigning deity of the city, Lord Jagannath, whose temple was built way back in the 12th century, is not only of great religious significance to the people of Orissa but is revered by thousands of pilgrims who seek His blessings from every part of the country. This intense veneration of Jagannath, or the Lord of the Universe, reaches its zenith during the annual rites of the Rath Yatra in the months of June July, when the images of Lord Jagannath, His sister Subhadra and brother Balbhadra are transported through the Grand Road (Bada Danda) of Puri in traditionally decorated massive chariots that are dragged by thousands of devotees to the Gundicha Ghar where they sojourn for a week. The process is repeated when they are returned amidst intense religious fervor to the temple. Though the temple is closed to non-Hindus, the activities of the Jagannath Temple are so immense that they create enough colour and interest for tourists to participate in the bazar element of the proceedings outside the temple precincts.
The other important feature of the town is its beautiful beach which, for centuries, has offered pleasure to both pilgrims and swimmers. This picturesque beach is one of the most delightful white beaches in the country and is becoming a pleasure haunt for tourists from all over the globe. Though the surf here is pretty exciting, the undercurrent can be a bit tricky, so tread carefully... The areas both within and outside Puri offer excellent shopping and the nearby artist villages of Pipli (for the famous appliqué work), Raghurajpur (for pata and palm-leaf paintings) and Balakati (for bell-metal work) bring shoppers directly in contact with the craftsmen at work. It can be quite an experience.
How to reach Puri
As Puri does not have an airport, one can get flight service from the nearest airport in Bhubaneswar the capital of Orissa which is 65kms away. Bhubaneswar is well connected to prime cities like Kolkata, Hyderabad and Delhi.
Since Puri is a prime terminus of South Eastern Railway, several express and mail trains link it with other parts of the country. Trains like Purushottam Express and Puri New Delhi Express connects it with New Delhi.
Since Puri happens to be an important district, it is blessed with healthy network of roads which link it to other stopovers like Konark, Bhubaneswar. The Orissa Road Corporation and the Government State transport links the place with Chennai, Vizag and Sambalpur.
Summer Temperature: 36°C max and 27°C min. Winter Temperature: 25°C max and 15°C min. Average Rainfall: 135.23 cm Best Time to Visit: October to March
Puri located in the eastern part of the country in the state of Orissa has a tropical monsoon type of climate because of its geographical location on the coast comprising of primarily three seasons summer, winter, spring and rainy season.
Summers begin in March and continues till June characterized by extreme heat and humidity with temperature rising up to 36 degree C.
Monsoons usually arrive with the advent of south-west monsoon hitting the shoreline in the last week of June and1st week of July and retreats by 15th October. This period is marked by heavy downpour with increased level of humidity.
Winters are not too harsh and the most pleasant time which usually arrive in November and last till January. The temperature never goes below 15 degree C.
Autumn does knock the place and looks marvellous when greenary abounds and the sweet fragnance of myriad of flowers surround the enite area. The weather remains balmy with soothing temperature.
Places Of Interest
- Jagannath Temple
- Gundicha Temple
- Puri Beach
- Swargadwar Beach
- Chilka Lake
Jagannath, meaning the lord of the world, resides in the sacred city of Puri. The temple is actually dedicated to a form of Lord Vishnu (Lord Krishna). Situated on the Nilgiri hills the temple was constructed in the 12th century by Raja Chodaganga Deva. This temple is the principal place of worship for the Hindus and is categorized as one of the four sacred dhams. Standing erect with a height of 65 meters, the Jagannath temple is considered as one of the tallest temples of India. Situated in the heart of the city of Puri, the temple walls are adorned by paintings of Lord Krishna and the pillars, which support the temple, are exquisitely carved with the scenes from life of the Lord.
Gundicha temple or Gundicha Ghar is believed to be the place of residence of Lord Krishna's aunt. Literally meaning a garden house, the temple is revered like the Jagannath temple. According to local custom the Lord along with his brother Balram and sister Subhadra stay at their Aunt's house. Thus during this time the much famous Rath yatra takes place as the Gods and Goddess visit their aunt Gundicha for nine days traveling by a majestic and heavily decorated chariot.
The soft white sands of this magnificent beach will undoubtedly leave a visitor bewitched by its beauty. Snuggled up along the Bay of Bengal the beach is spread up in several kilometers and is an ideal place for leisurely walks. Witnessing a sunrise or a sunset on the Puri beach is a mesmerizing spectacle which remains etched in the memories of the traveler. The beach is also an ideal place to savor the local street food of Orissa. The entire beach is filled with hawkers who sell coconut water to masala chai and various other delicacies. The Puri beach festival held annually in November is in fact a time when one should ideally be visiting the beach as a host of activities take place during this time and one gets the best of local cuisine.
According to Hindu mythology the person who breathes his last at this beach finds place in heaven for himself. The beach is also revered as it is believed that saint Chatanyadev a disciple of Lord Vishnu use to bathe at this beach. The sunrise and sunset from this beach is also a spectacle not to be missed.
One of the largest lakes of not only India, but the whole of Asia, Chilka Lake is situated close to Puri. Most of the people who visit the holy city make it a point to undertake an excursion to the lake also. Spread over an area of almost 1100 sq km, Chilka Lake also serves as a bird sanctuary during winters. While there, do not forget to go on a cruise too.
puri is a very popular destination in Orissa. For the discerning shopper, shopping in Puri may turn out to be a true delight. The state of Orissa has a rich tradition of handicrafts.
Being a beachside destination, shells and oyster are available in abundance in Puri. Over the years the ace craftsmen have perfected the art of making artifacts out of shells and oysters. A variety of utilities, decorative showpieces are definitely a feast to eyes and may leave you spoilt for choice. Do pick up a few items while shopping in Puri.
Weaving saris is a traditional craft of Orissa. Even in Puri you would find many outlets dealing in textiles where shoppers flock in large numbers. Do check out the exquisite Passapali, Bomkai and Ikat saris while shopping in Puri.
Palm leaf painting, Patta Chitra is also a popular craft in Orissa. The craft has earned worldwide renown. The item serves well to decorate the interior of your home. An item or two must feature in your shopping cart in Puri.
At the same time, stone crafts and silver works are also favorite items for shopping in Puri.
There are lots places for shopping in Puri. From government run emporia to private outlets - shopping joints are galore. You may choose to go on shopping from the colorful bazaars and stalls erected by the local vendors if you are comfortable with a little bit of bargaining.
Food is not as exciting. Thalis are quite common which offer around four to five vegetables in small bowls served along with a portion of rice and rotis. Fresh fish is very much available. One can also enjoy Chinese which is available at limited restaurants.
Some of the Restaurants
Trupti, essentially an Indian vegetarian hotel serves a range of thalis.
Xanadu, a low priced restaurant .Food can really be relished here at cheap cost.
Mayfair Beach Resort, An elite restaurant having an exciting menu is a relief from the common menu found at most of the other places.
Gandhara International Hotel, delicious and authentic Japanese food can be endorsed here.
This city is mainly a place of religion, rituals and worship. The only high that people here seem to get is from the pilgrimage fever. This city goes to sleep by 9:00pm. Not much of nightlife can be experienced here.