Jagannath Temple, Puri

Shree Jagannath temple, puri is a hindu temple dedicated to lord Jagannath, a avatar of hindu god lord Vishnu. The Jagannath temple is situated in Puri district of the state Odisha. The temple is one of the char dham and important pilgrim destination in Odisha as well in India. Puri Jagannath temple is also one of the richest temples in India.

Puri Jagannath Temple

The present Jagannath temple was rebuilt from the 10th century and onwards, and started building by King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva, first of the Ganga dynasty on a site of an old temple.

Puri Jagannath temple is famous because of Rath yatra (Cart Festival), in which the three main deity Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra were pulled in cart during the Festival. Millions of people witness the Festival every year.

History of Jagannath Temple

The temple was made by the king Anantavarman Chodaganga in the 12th century CE of  Ganga dynasty, as suggested by the Kendupatna copper-plate inscription of his descendant Narasimhadeva II.

Anantavarman was originally a Shaivite, and became a Vaishnavite sometime after he conquered the Utkala region in 1112 CE. The temple construction must have started sometime after 1112 CE suggested by inscriptions.

Main Deities

The three main deities of Jagannath temple are Lord Jagannath, elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhdra.

Lord Jagannath

Jagannath means lord of the universe and an avatar of lord Vishnu.He is very important regionally in the Indian states like Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Gujarat, Assam and Tripura. The Jagannath temple in Puri, Odisha is particularly significant in Vaishnavism.

Balabhadra

Balabhadra is a god and the elder brother of Jagannath. He is particularly very important in the Jagannath tradition, as one of the three deities. He is also known as Baladeva, Balarama and Haladhara. He is an avatar of shesha naga who holds the earth according to the hindu mithology.

Subhadra

Subhadra sister of lord Jagannath and Balabhadra and one of the character in Mahabharata. She is believed to be a incarnation of goddess Yog Maya. She is one of the deity significat in Puri Jagannath temple and in Ratha yatra. 

Architecture of Puri Jagannath Temple

The big temple complex covers an area of more than 400,000 square feet and is surrounded by a high fortified wall. The 20 feet  high wall is known as Meghanada Pacheri. Another wall known as kurma bedha covers the main temple. The temple contains at least 120 temples and shrines. With its sculptural richness and fluidity of the Oriya style of temple architecture, it is one of the most magnificent and beautiful monuments of India.

The temple is a curvilinear temple and crowning the top is the ‘srichakra’ of Vishnu. Also known as the “Nilachakra”, it is made out of Ashtadhatu (Eight metal Element) and is considered sacrosanct.

Out of all the existing temples in Odisha, the Jagannath temple is the highest. The temple tower was built on a raised platform of stone and, rising to 214 feet above the inner sanctum where the deities reside, dominates the surrounding landscape. The pyramidal roofs of the temples and adjoining halls, or mandapas, rise in steps toward the tower like a ridge of mountain peaks.

Mahaprasad (Bhog)

The priest offers prasad (bhog) six times a day to the deities. The kitchen is world’s largest where mahaprasad is made. The mahaprasad also called as 56 bhog as 56 items were made for the gods. Cooking is done only in soil (earthen) pots using water drawn from two special wells near the kitchen called Ganga and Yamuna. The kitchen feed thousands of people on a daily basis. 

Festivals

There are many festivals observed each year and attended by millions of people. The most important Festival in Jagannath temple, Puri is the Rath Yatra or the Chariot Festival in June. 

Other significant festivals are:

  • Chandan Yatra
  • Snnana Yatra
  • Anavasara or Anasara
  • Niladri Bije
  • Gupta Gundicha
  • Nabakalebara

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