Puri is one of the ancient pilgrimage centers of India. Puri is located on the Orissa coast, 60 km from Bhubaneswar. Puri is among the four sacred "Dhams" (Puri, Dwarka, Rameswaram and Badrinath) of the Hindus. The biggest attraction of Puri is the Jagannath temple, where devotees come from far and wide. Along with Lord Jagannath, Puri is the holy seat of Subhadra and Balbhadra. The Puri town is divided into two parts- the old town and the main residential area
For centuries Puri is known by many other names as well- Nilgiri, Niladri, Nilanchal, Purushottam, Sankhakshetra, Srikshetra, Jagannath Dham and Jagannath Puri. The present temple of Lord Jagannath was built in the twelfth century by the Ganga ruler, Choda Ganga Deva. According to legends if a person stays at Puri for three days and nights he/she obtains "moksha" from the cycle of birth and rebirth. The famous Rath Yatra festival begins is held at Puri every year.
The Rath yatra of Lord Jagnnath begins on the second day of the bright fortnight in the month of Asad (June-July). The Rath Yatra is held to commemorate the journey of Krishna from Gokul to Mathura. The Rath Yatra festival is celebrated at Puri with great pomp and gaiety. In the Rath Yatra Lord Jagannath, Subhadra and Balbhadra are taken out in procession in three Rathas (chariots). Millions of devotees pull the ropes of the Rath (chariot).
Pilgrimage Attractions of Puri
Puri Jagannath Temple
The temple of Lord Jagannath is one of the most sacred pilgrimage spots in India and one of the four Dhams of the divine that lie on the four directions of the compass. The Jagannath temple commands great influence over almost every aspect of life in Puri. The huge temple compound is surmounted with a 20 foot wall. The Jagannath temple is truly an institution unique in the world.
The Gundicha temple is located some 3-km northeast of the Jagannatha temple. During the 'Ratha-Yatra' festival, Lord Jagannatha goes to the Gundicha temple and stays there for a week. After one week Lord Jagannath returns to his original temple.