Stellar destinations like the sacred Jagannath temple, the Golden beach, The Sun Temple-Konark, etc make Puri one of the most visited tourist places of Odisha.
Puri is a coastal district and is also known as “Sri Kshetra”. Lord Jagannath is said to have chosen this place to settle himself, as Jagannath Dham is the city best known as. It is one of the original “Char Dham”, pilgrimage sites for Hindus.
The Jagannath Temple is otherwise known as “Badadeula”. It is the major reason for the maximum number of tourist swarming in the city every year.
The district is named after its capital town, Puri. The word “Puri” means town or city in Sanskrit. Puri town is the only municipality of the district; Konark, Pipili and Nimapara are the three NACs in this district. Satyabadi, Gop, Kakatpur and Brahmagiri are major semi-urban areas.
Nearby districts are Dhenkanal, Mayubhanj, Kendujhar, and Sundergarh. Although Puri has a lot of architectural monuments to offer, the nearby districts have various natural tourist destinations as well.
The natural beauty of Odisha has not hidden anymore, the world has come to know about its serenity and the footfall of this state has risen in the last few years.
Puri has been a center of attraction for Odisha for ages now, being the only place with the most tourist destinations. Being closer to Bhubaneswar (the capital city of Odisha) brings a vulnerability to this city.
Albeit Bhubaneswar being more famous for Kalinga Architecture, Puri doesn’t lack either when it comes to ancient architectural monuments.
After the Jagannath temple, the famous temples of Puri are Gundicha temple, Lokanath temple, Sun temple-Konark, Mangala temple-Kakatpur, etc.
The Shree Jagannath Temple is an important Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath, a form of Lord Vishnu.
Although it has a vast legend behind it, historical fact starts with information about it being rebuilt by king Anantavarman Chodaganga. This temple is also famous for its annual Ratha Yatra festival.
Gundicha temple on the other hand is famous due to the Jagannath temple. As it is significant for being the destination of the celebrated annual Ratha Yatra of Puri.
Puri Lokanath Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. According to history, the lingam in this temple was established by Lord Rama.
The unique feature is that the Shiv-ling is always underwater. It substantiates the legend that Goddess Ganga flows through the top of the shiva linga as a stream.
Konark Sun Temple
Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century C.E Sun temple at Konark, which is one of the cities of Puri district situated on the coastline.
Dedicated to the Hindu Sun God Surya, the temple is attributed to king Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga dynasty.
Albeit having vast legend attached to it, what remains of it is in itself a classic illustration of the Odisha style of Architecture or Kalinga Architecture.
Maa Mangala Temple
Maa Mangala Temple is a Hindu temple located at Kakatpur in the Puri district of Odisha. This is a 15th-century temple and a symbol of the ancient heritage of Kalinga. This temple is dedicated to “Maa Mangala”, a Hindu goddess who is one of the manifestations of “SHAKTI”.
Every year thousands of tourists get drawn towards this city, hence a number of tourist festivals have been organised annually.
Konark Dance Festival
Konark dance festival is a five-day dance festival held every year in the month of December. It is an annual event of classical dance performances held in the backdrop of Konark Sun Temple, Odisha.
During this festival, Konark attracts a surge of tourists and art enthusiasts, to envision the grandest dance festival in the state.
The Konark Dance and Music festival gives a platform to many artists across the world to showcase the depth of their knowledge regarding Indian classical dance forms and music.
Apart from Odissi, dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Manipuri, Kathakali, Kathaka, Kuchipudi, and Sattriya are a few Indian classical dance forms that are also performed by polished artists from all around the world.
To make this event more entertaining, a craft mela along with several Sand art competitions are also organized.
Albeit Ratha yatra being celebrated globally, it is incomplete to not mention this while talking about festivals.
Odias take their devotion to Lord Jagannath very seriously, and the fact that the famous Jagannath temple is in Puri of Odisha, this festival is amongst one of the major festivals celebrated in a grand way.
It is a festival where the Lord comes out of the temple to meet his devotees irrespective of their caste or creed.
This festival usually takes place during June/July. Millions of devotees visit Puri to be able to touch the idol of Lord Jagannath and pull his chariot.
Some Other Festivals
Some other festivals like Chhera Panhara, Chandan Yatra, Snana Yatra, Naba Kalabara, Suna Besa, etc; all of them related to Lord Jagannath are considered as major festivals of Puri.
As non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple. Festivals like Ratha Yatra give devotees of every race the opportunity to meet and serve the lord under the open sky.
Art and Craft
The art and craft of Odisha range from —stonework, silver filigree, woodcraft, applique work, brass and bell metal work, dhokra castings, horn work, pattachitra, paper mache, terracotta, tie & dye textile in cotton, tussar and silk to name a few.
In fact, the reason why Odisha is also known as Utkala is because of its extended range of art and craft. ‘Utkala’ is a Sanskrit word that roughly translates to Excellent Art (Utkrishta Kala).
Pipili Appliqué art
Pipili in the Puri district is one of the most famous artistic sites, famous for designing beautiful Applique handicrafts.
Each and every family of darjisahi, a well-known applique village’s people are engaged in this applique craft. This is the livelihood of most people here.
Sand art is a special art form that is created on the beaches of Puri. Sculptures of various gods and famous people are now created in the sand by amateur artists.
Although these art forms are temporary, it has gained international fame in recent years.
One of the famed sand artists of Odisha is Sudarshan Pattnaik. He established the Golden Sand Art Institute in 1995, in the open air on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, to provide training to students interested in this art form.
Last but not least the beaches of Odisha that reside in Puri are not only a major tourist destination but also the pride of this district.
There are 6 beautiful beaches in Puri, the Golden beach and Chandrabhaga beach wherein have the most visitation.
The Golden Beach/Puri Beach
Puri Beach, also known as Golden Beach, is one of the finest coastlines in East India, bordering the Bay of Bengal.
It is often flocked by devotees visiting the beach for a purification dip who come to Puri to pay their homage to Lord Jagannath.
The beach is also renowned for the sand sculptures made by internationally known sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik.
It is a public beach that provides various fun activities such as camel rides, horse rides, shop for knick-knacks, swimming allowance, as well as water bike rides in a particular area.
Located near the famous Sun Temple in Konark, Chandrabhaga Beach is a clean and pristine beach known to be one of the best on the east coast.
The beach has a long expanse of beautiful golden sand with tall trees to provide shade for those who want to laze at the beach. Chandrabhaga Beach also is famous for hosting the famous cultural Chandrabhaga Mela.
Jet Skiing, paragliding, motorboat rides, beach picnics, souvenir shopping; such activities are very common here. Few small stalls and small cafes can be found across the road to the beach.
Baliharachandi Beach is a much quieter and offbeat alternative to Puri Beach. With fewer stalls and hosts to mostly picnickers, evenings are when it remains the most crowded.
Scurrying little crabs, scattered seashells and an unobstructed view of the sea make up for the lack of other entertainment.
To laze at the beach, have beach picnics, or go hike through the forest are some best options to consider on this beach. Few small stalls can be found serving fruits and snacks.
Swargadwar Beach, Astaranga Beach, Balighai beach are the rest of the beaches that solemnly multiply the beauty of Puri.
The beaches in Puri are clean and effortless, no wonder they bring such peace and harmony to the person who decides to stroll over its sand.
Puri has always been a well-established place, in the reign of every ruler who has ruled this city. Hence, it holds a brief history to it as well.
Despite all that, the natural beauty and culture, tradition, art, beliefs of the locals, devotion, etc are in fact what makes this place more approachable.
If you ever decide to visit Puri, probably this blog will help you find some destinations.