We set out to visit Lord Jagannath with my son Prithvi and wife Geeta, last week.
Lord Jagannath Temple is located in Puri, 65 km from Bhuvaneshwara the state capital of state Odisha in India. Bhuvaneshwara is 2 hrs flight from Delhi. There are trains also from Delhi and takes over night journey.
Landed at Bhuvaneshwar and drove to Puri, where we had a hotel booking. We had four days to spend.
Shri Jagannath Mandir :
Jagannath Mandir is a huge temple complex, huge crowd (though lean season) intricate stone carving, Beautiful architectural structure.
Camera is not allowed in side Mandir complex. I could take few from outside the complex.
Rathyatra is due on July 18th. Preparations were in full swing. This time was unique and special. New idols would be instated. It happens after every 19 years. Many special rituals and “niti”s were being followed. Actually we also realised after visiting the temple, that time was not really good to visit since, due to an important ritual “brahmaparivortan” the actual Idols were not on “darshan”. This certainly disappointed us though, It is also said that being at Lords place on such occasion is also very special. Lord wanted it that way, so it is ok. Hence devotees do visit nearby another temple called Alarinath mandir.(A Vishnu Temple)
Instead of Jaya – Vijaya , You see only Jaya and a police. Vijaya is not in the frame. Both have the same duty. One is doing his duty another one is on the phone.
Three Chariots for Krishna, Balabhadra and Subhadra.
Three Rathas or Chariots were being built with 16 huge wheels.
In the evening on the beach side is a “mela” with lot of street side vendors many things for kids, for family, for devotees ….
There was a short but good “puja” just like Ganga aarti in Haridwar, takes place, on the ocean side.
Chilika Lake and Dolphins :
There is a big lake called “Chilika” about 40 km from Puri. It has a spot where one can see the Dolphins. We took a taxi to reach the spot and went on boat cruise to see the “Dolphins” There are as many as 25 motorised boats, reaching the spot. I already had a doubt if at all Dolphins show themselves with such number of boats, making noise.
We just saw the back of one two dolphins surfaced for few seconds. If you are expecting Dolphins, do not go there, I suggest. It is waste of money. If you like four hours of good boat ride, then you choose it.
This was where a Dolphin showed its back to us and vanished.
Red Island, Red Crab, Corals and Emeralds:
At one place the boatman takes you to a small island where one comes with “Shells and coral reef” pieces. He breaks the shell and reef in front of you to show you the “Moti” (swati muttu) and “coral” and “emeralds” For a moment you tend to believe since it looks quite authentic. But it is all fake. He is trying to fool you by selling the “stones” for quite a sum.
This so called “precious” stone seller also shows you the red crabs. The island is called red crab island he says. At least they were live and hopefully not painted red. Looked original.
Lingaraja temple, Mukteshwar temple, Konark Temple:
Next we went to other near by temples and places. Lingaraja temple, again no camera, no pictures. It is equally beautiful and huge.
Mukteshwar Temple :
Next one Mukteshwar, where camera was allowed, so are the pictures here with. Mukteshwar temple is almost three times smaller compared to Jagannath and Lingaraj Temple. Very good stone carving, sculpture.
Konark Sun Temple :
Next one was famous Sun Temple Konark. Konark is about 35 km from Puri, 65 km from Bhuvaneshwara.
Pained to look at the hugely vandalised temple, by British and Muslim invaders long time ago. Sanctum Sanctorum is just reduced to the base. I think Mukhmantapa exists but filled from inside so as to prevent it from collapsing.
ASI somehow maintains it. It is said one of the British viceroy tried to restore (after they looted the same !) and managed to hold the structure from collapsing. There is no worship, no pujari, no “panda” . You can freely move around.
This beautiful wheel refers to 24 hours of the day. It is actually a sun dial. It shows the time of the day. The small details with in the wheel explains the philosophy of life as our guide explained. There are 24 such wheels.
Lastly, that was good visit, we felt satisfied
Puri has lot of hotels. Choose the one that suits your pocket. Do not get carried away by their claims on their websites. Mostly what you see is not what you get. Check everything before you check in. You can book the hotel online with out paying advance in many hotels.
Puri is not a clean city, however by looking at the number of devotees visit every day, you may ignore it. Local authorities must be trying hard to keep the city clean. During Rath yatra
estimated crowd is 30 lakh people. Amazing !
From weather point of view, summer is not right time. It is too hot and humid. Do not visit four to six weeks before rath yatra since lord Jagannath wont give darshan in Idol form. You can still visit temple, go to garbha gudi and take darshan of representative idols. Only after Rath yatra is good time.