Jagannath Puri Temple, also known as Shree Mandir, is a renowned Hindu temple located in the eastern state of Odisha in India. Considered one of the Char Dham pilgrimage sites for Hindus, the Jagannath Puri Temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, along with his siblings Balabhadra and Subhadra. In this article, we will explore the history, architecture, significance, and myths associated with the temple, as well as practical information for visiting and preserving it.
History and Origin of Jagannath Puri Temple
The history of Jagannath Puri Temple dates back to the 12th century, when it was constructed by the Ganga dynasty king Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva. The temple was later expanded by other kings, including the Gajapati dynasty, and it is said to have undergone at least 18 renovations since its inception.
The origin of the temple can be traced back to Hindu mythology. According to legend, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra are believed to have appeared in the dream of a king named Indradyumna. The king then commissioned the temple to be built at the site of the dream, and Lord Vishwakarma, the celestial architect, is said to have designed the temple.
Significance of the Jagannath Puri Temple
The Jagannath Puri Temple is considered one of the most sacred Hindu temples in India. It is one of the four pilgrimage sites (Char Dham) that every devout Hindu is expected to visit in their lifetime. The temple is especially important for followers of Lord Jagannath, who is revered as the Lord of the Universe and the symbol of compassion and tolerance.
The temple is also significant because it is a representation of the unity of different castes and creeds. People of all castes, creeds, and religions are allowed to enter the temple and offer prayers to the deities. The temple is a symbol of universal brotherhood and a place where people from all walks of life can come together to celebrate the divinity of the Lord.
Architecture and Design of the Temple
The Jagannath Puri Temple is renowned for its exquisite architecture and intricate carvings. The temple is built in the Kalinga style of architecture, which originated in the Kalinga region of ancient India (present-day Odisha). The temple is built on a raised platform and is surrounded by a high wall.
The main temple structure is about 214 feet high and is divided into four parts: the Vimana (spire), the Jagamohana (porch), the Natamandira (dancing hall), and the Bhoga Mandapa (food offering hall). The spire of the temple is shaped like a beehive and is made up of several tiers. The temple is made of khondalite stone and is covered in gold
The Deities of the Temple: Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra
The main deities of the Jagannath Puri Temple are Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra, and their sister Subhadra. The idols are made of wood and are replaced every 12 to 19 years in a ritual known as Navakalevara. The idols are carved from a sacred neem tree, which is chosen by the temple priests after a series of rituals and omens. The deities are considered to be living entities and are treated with great respect and devotion.
Lord Jagannath is the main deity of the temple, and is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He is often depicted with a dark complexion and large, round eyes. Balabhadra is his elder brother, and is depicted with a fair complexion and a muscular build. Subhadra is their younger sister, and is depicted with a gentle and feminine appearance.
Rath Yatra – The Festival of Chariots
One of the most famous festivals associated with the Jagannath Puri Temple is the Rath Yatra, or the Festival of Chariots. It is held annually in June or July and is attended by millions of devotees from all over India and the world. During the festival, the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra are placed on large chariots and pulled through the streets by thousands of devotees. The chariots are lavishly decorated and are accompanied by music, dance, and chanting. The festival is an opportunity for devotees to express their devotion to the deities and to seek their blessings.
Mahaprasad – The Sacred Food Offering
The Jagannath Puri Temple is also famous for its Mahaprasad, or the sacred food offering. The temple serves food to thousands of devotees every day, and the food is considered to be blessed by the deities. The Mahaprasad is prepared by temple cooks in a kitchen known as the Ananda Bazaar, using only traditional methods and ingredients. The food is cooked in earthen pots over a wood-fired stove, and is served on banana leaves. The Mahaprasad is believed to have great spiritual significance, and is considered to be a form of prasad, or divine offering.
Legends and Myths Associated with the Temple
The Jagannath Puri Temple has many legends and myths associated with it, which add to its religious significance. One of the most popular legends is the story of King Indradyumna, who is said to have built the temple. According to the legend, King Indradyumna had a dream in which he saw Lord Jagannath, and he was instructed to build a temple in his honor. However, he did not know what the Lord looked like. After searching for a long time, he found an old Brahmin who claimed to know the appearance of the Lord. The Brahmin agreed to accompany the king, but on the way to the temple site, he disappeared. Later, the king found a large wooden log on the shore, and he believed it was a sign from the Lord. He had the log carved into the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra, and built the temple to house them.
13 Mysterious Facts About Jagannath Puri Temple You Might Not Know
The temple is not only famous for its religious significance but also for its many mysteries and legends. In this article, we will explore 13 unknown and mysterious facts about the Jagannath Temple.
- The Sudarshan Chakra Mystery
The Sudarshan Chakra, a spinning disc-like weapon carried by Lord Vishnu, is one of the most important symbols of the Jagannath Temple. The Sudarshan Chakra which is placed at the pinnacle of the temple is made up of heavy metal and it weighs over 1000 kilograms! Nobody knows how an object which is so heavy is placed over that height in the era when there was no electricity or technology. There is one more fact about the Sudarshan Chakra. It is experienced that when you see the Chakra from front, back, sideways or any angle; the Chakra will look the same!
- The Mysterious Non-Shadow
The Jagannath Temple has a unique architectural feature that has puzzled scientists for centuries. The temple’s main dome, known as the Shikhara, does not cast a shadow at any time of the day, regardless of the position of the sun. The temple is located at a specific angle that ensures that the sun’s rays do not fall on it directly. This phenomenon has been the subject of many scientific studies, but so far, no one has been able to explain it.
- The Flag On The Temple Changes Direction
The flag on top of the Jagannath Temple always flutters in the opposite direction of the wind. This mysterious phenomenon has puzzled scientists and experts for years. Some believe that this is due to the unique shape and design of the temple, while others attribute it to divine intervention.
- The Flag Of The Temple Is Changes Daily
One of the most interesting things about the Jagannath Puri Temple is that the flag atop the temple changes every day. The flag, called the Patita Pavana, is changed at sunrise every day. The flag has several symbols, including the Sudarshana Chakra, the conch, and the lotus. The changing of the flag is considered an important ritual and is watched by thousands of devotees every day. The main priest of the temple climbs the temple atop and replaces the old flag with a new flag. It is believed that if the flag ritual is missed for even a single day, the temple will be shut for 18 years.
- The Idols Are Changed In Complete Darkness
The idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra are changed every 12 or 19 years, in a ritual known as Nabakalebara. The idols are made in complete secrecy, and the entire process is shrouded in mystery. The old idols are buried in a special graveyard near the temple, and a new set of idols is installed in complete darkness. Idols are replaced after twelve years, then the entire city and the temple are darkened, the city’s electricity is switched off and the secret ritual Navakalevar is also performed. A kind of Brahma substance is extracted from the idols. This substance has so much energy that the person who sees it can become blind and can even die.
- The Unending Prasad
One of the most popular rituals at the Jagannath Temple is the offering of Mahaprasad, a sacred food offering. The food is cooked in the temple’s kitchen and is distributed to the devotees. The surprising thing about Mahaprasad is that no matter how many people eat it, the food never runs out. This mystery has been the subject of many scientific studies, but so far, no one has been able to explain it.
- The Hidden Stairs
The Jagannath Temple has a secret staircase that leads to the roof of the temple. The staircase is hidden behind a door in one of the temple’s inner chambers and is only known to a select few temple priests. It is said that the staircase was used by the temple priests to escape during times of war and invasion
- The Secret Recipe
The Mahaprasad offered at the Jagannath Temple is made from 56 different items, and the recipe for the food is a closely guarded secret. The recipe has been passed down from generation to generation of temple cooks, and only a select few know the exact ingredients and cooking methods.
- The No-Fly Zone
The Jagannath Puri temple has a designated No-Fly Zone, and airplanes are not permitted to fly over the temple. This is because Puri is not situated along any standard flight route, and the presence of the Nilachakra on top of the temple contributes to this restriction. The Nilchakra, which is made of eight metals, is believed to disrupt wireless communication, and this interference is considered a safety risk for aircraft. Consequently, there is a widespread belief that airplanes cannot safely fly over the Jagannath Puri temple.
- The Temple Kitchen Is The Largest In The World
The kitchen of the Jagannath Temple, also known as the Anand Bazaar, is the largest kitchen in the world. It can serve up to 100,000 people every day during festivals and special occasions. The food is cooked on traditional clay stoves using firewood, and is considered to be a sacred offering to the deities.
- Ocean Waves Disappears
When you step into its lion gate, you will see that the sound of ocean waves disappears and as soon as you come out of this gate, the sound will start coming again, don’t you think how surprising it is?
- The cooking pot mystery
Food is prepared using earthen pots. There are 7 pots mounted one above the other placed over a hearth. The topmost pot gets heated first while the bottommost pot will be the last to be heated which is still an enigma.
Some of you might have already guessed about this temple while some of you are just awed by these mysteries and curious to know about this temple. Hold on! It doesn’t stop here. The stories and facts below on the idols and how the temple was formed will just blow your mind away.
- The Idols In The Temple Are Made Of Neem Wood
The idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra in the temple are made of neem wood, which is known for its medicinal properties. The use of neem wood for making the idols is a unique tradition of the temple and has been followed for centuries. The idols are replaced every 12 or 19 years, depending on certain astrological calculations.
Temple Timings, Entry Fees, and Travel Tips
The Jagannath Puri Temple is open from 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM every day. However, there are some important rituals that take place during the day, which visitors may want to attend. The timings of these rituals are as follows:
- Mangala Aarti: 5:00 AM to 6:00 AM
- Mailam: 6:00 AM to 6:30 AM
- Abakasha: 6:30 AM to 7:00 AM
- Surya Puja: 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM
- Dwarapala Puja: 8:00 AM to 8:30 AM
- Besha Sesha: 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM
- Gopala Ballava: 9:30 AM to 10:00 AM
- Madhyanha Dhupa: 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
- Sandhya Aarti: 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM
- Pahuda: 10:00 PM to 10:30 PM
There is no entry fee for visiting the Jagannath Puri Temple. However, visitors may have to pay a fee for various services such as camera fee, mobile phone fee, and prasad fee. The camera fee is Rs. 100 for still cameras and Rs. 500 for video cameras. The mobile phone fee is Rs. 10. The prasad fee depends on the type and quantity of prasad that visitors want to buy.
- The best time to visit the Jagannath Puri Temple is from October to March, when the weather is pleasant and cool.
- The temple is located in the heart of Puri city and is easily accessible by road, rail, and air.
- The nearest airport is Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar, which is about 60 km from Puri. From the airport, visitors can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach the temple.
- The nearest railway station is Puri Railway Station, which is well-connected to major cities in India. Visitors can hire a taxi or take a rickshaw from the railway station to reach the temple.
- It is advisable to wear comfortable clothing and footwear while visiting the temple. Visitors should also carry a water bottle and a hat or cap to protect themselves from the sun.
- Visitors are not allowed to take any leather items, food, or drinks inside the temple premises.
- It is important to maintain silence and follow the rules and regulations of the temple while inside the premises.
- Visitors can hire a guide to learn more about the history and significance of the temple.
Interesting Trivia and Lesser-known Facts about Jagannath Puri Temple
Where Is Puri Jagannath Temple?
Puri Jagannath Temple is located in the city of Puri, in the state of Odisha, India.
Why Birds Cannot Fly Over Jagannath?
Birds cannot fly over Jagannath Temple due to the strong magnetic field generated by the Nilachakra, which supposedly interferes with their navigation.
Is Mobile Phone Allowed in Puri Jagannath Temple?
Mobile phones are not allowed inside the Jagannath Temple complex for security reasons.
What Is The Best Time to Visit Jagannath Temple?
The best time to visit Jagannath Temple is during the winter months of November to February, when the weather is pleasant and the festival season is in full swing.
What Is Jagannath Prasad Called?
Jagannath Prasad is the name given to the sacred food offering (prasad) that is distributed to the devotees after it is offered to the deities.
On Which Day Puri Mandir Closed?
Puri Mandir is closed on the occasion of the lunar eclipse (Chandra Grahan), which occurs twice a year.
Jagannath Puri Nearest Airport?
The nearest airport to Jagannath Puri is Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar, which is about 60 km away.