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Puri Jagannath


Puri, located 310 miles from Calcutta, is known as Vishnu or Purushottama Kshetra. This temple has
Lord Jagannath as the main deity. Lord Jagannath is yet another form of Lord Krishna. This temple has three ancient wooden images- Lord Krishna, his elder brother Balarama (also known as Balabhadra) and Subhadra Devi, yet another form of Goddess Lakshmi. Lord Krishna also has a sister called Subhadra. However, Subhadra Devi in this temple is not his sister.

 

The temple is situated on a gentle and slopy Neela Parvata along the sea. Since the temple is situated on Neela Parvata, the deity here is also known as Neela Madhava. It is said that this is one of the most powerful temples of Lord Krishna and one can achieve maximum of his/her desires by visiting this place. Puri is one of the few religious places, which provides the outdoor pleasure of sea and beaches along with religious piety of 'darshan', and draws crowds throughout the year. Ancient literature and puraanaas have talked about this temple and there is a mention of this in Skaanda Puraana. It is said that sages and rishis like Ambareesha, Pundareeka, Jaimini and Naarada used to visit the place for worshiping the lord.

The images of deities there are different from the other finished and well carved images in other temples. The legend has it that King of Avanti, Indradyumna, one day, followed a message, which was given to him in dream to go to the seashore and collect a floating log to carve out the image of Lord Jagannath out of it. He could get the log but had to face problems in getting a craftsman to carve the image. Finally, after searching for long, he could get a person to do the job. But the craftsman came up with a condition for carrying out the job. He wanted to do the job in isolation and asked the king not allow anybody to open the doors for the next 21 days. The king accepted the condition and asked the craftsman to go ahead with the work.

Though informed about the condition, the queen, out of curiosity, used to keep her ears close to the closed doors to hear the sound of carving in the room. But after some days, she could not hear any sound coming from the room. Then she came to a conclusion that the old man was dead and opened the door forcibly. The old man, who was very much present in the room live and active glanced at the queen and disappeared, leaving the three images of Jagannath, his brother Balarama and Subhadra, incomplete. Even today on visiting the temple one can find the incomplete images of the deities. It is said that the craftsman was none other than the creator of universe, great architect and divine sculptor Vishwakarma.

In fact, some of the studies have mentioned that there is mention about this temple in vedas.

Adroyaddaaruplavate sindhopari apurusham
Tadarabhaswa durhano tena gaccha parastaaram

This is from Rigveda, where in it is mentioned about the wooden image of Lord Jagannath. Matsya, Vishnu, Agni, Padma, Naarada, Brahma, Skaanda Puraanaas have talked about this temple. In addition to these, Kapila Samhitaa, Teertha Chintaamani, Neelaadrimahodaya, Rudrayaamala, Tantra Yaamala, Purushottama Tatva have also described this ancient temple.

It is said that King Chodagangadeva built the temple in the 12th century. Even before one enters the city, the tower 214 feet in height becomes distinctly visible. The temple complex has 4 chambers, the duel, the Jaganmohana, Natamandir and Bhogamandir, surrounded by a wall. Mahaprasaad is distributed to thousands of people daily. Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi are also located centered around the principle deity Lord Jagannath, within the temple premises in smaller temples.

There are a variety of festivals celebrated in this temple. Badaasingal Vesha is a regular festival. The deity is decorated in different veshaas or forms like Padma Vesha, Swarna Vesha, Hasthi Vesha, Kaaliyadalana Vesha, Krishnabalaraama Vesha and Pralambaasuravadha Vesha.

Jagannatha Yaatra is the most known festival celebrated here. During this festival, three chariots made of wood are brought out on to the streets with all the three deities in them. The images of the deity are changed for every 12 years. The trees required for making the images are identified in a traditional way. The process of designing images is considered to be a secret.


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