The abode of Lord Vishnu and the temple city of the state, Puri is rightly endowed with the title – ‘the cultural capital of Orissa’. Also called the cultural heart of the region, this littoral city boasts of its 2300 years old historical and cultural heritage. People of various sects following different religious faiths, namely Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jain, Buddhist, and Sikh dwell harmoniously in this holy land. However, Puri Cultural predominantly reflects the influence of Hinduism due to the renowned Jagannath Temple which is considered amongst the Char Dhams of Hindu Pilgrimage in India. The biggest temple of Orissa, Jagannath Temple is acclaimed country wide for the annual chariot procession called ‘Rath Yatra’. This annual car festival celebrated in the Hindu month of Ashadha (June/July) lasts for ten days when the idols of the deities are carried out in a grand procession. The magnificently decorated chariots are pulled by thousands of devotees manually and lead from the main temple to the Shree Gundicha Temple. Every year new chariots are constructed and the city is occluded by the millions of devotees during these ten days of Rath Yatra.
Other religious festivals celebrated in Jagannath Puri include Chandan Yatra, Gosani Yatra, Sahi Yatra, Maha Shiva Ratri, Magha Mela, Boita Bandan, Harirajpur Melan, Nava Kalebara, Jhamu Yatra Kakatapur, Dayana chori, Aunla Navami, Makar Mela, Bali Harachandi Mela, Anabasar Yatra Alaranath Pitha, Siruli Mahavir Mela and Julana Purnima. Besides, other cultural festivals enjoyed here are Konark festival, Konark Music & Dance Festival, Basant Utshav, Puri Beach Festival, Sriksetra Mohoshav and Gundicha Utshav. On the second Saturday of every month, District Council of culture organizes a cultural program at the collector's conference Hall. This program encourages young artists to exhibit their talents in performing arts when the traditional Odissi Dance, Odissi songs and other folk dances like Gotipua dance, Naga and Medha dance are staged.
Puri, thronged with numerous religious and recreational destinations has essentially developed as a popular tourist spot. Tourists enjoy the local food specialties such as Halwah, Rabidi, Malpua, Bhang Sharbat, Khaja, Mahaprasad at the Jagannath Temple, Rashmalais, Khirmohons, Rasagollas, Dab Chingri, Crispy Fish & Crab Pakoda, Paneer Fry, Fried Lobsters, Bengal Rice, Shukto, Fish Curry, Prawns, Shrimps, Havisha Dalma, Baddi Chura, Alu-Beans Bhaja, Dahi Bhendi, Dahi Badi, Arisha Pitha, Manda Pitha, etc. They also shop for some peculiar local varieties like Shell & Oyster Artifacts, Decorative Showpieces, Passapali, Bomkai And Ikat Saris, Handicrafts, Patta Chitra (Palm Leaf Painting), Stone Crafts, Lord Jagannath Photos, Religious Books, Cassettes And Clothes, Brass Materials, Wood Carvings, Stone Crafts, Silver Works, Applique Work, Bell-Metal Work, Colorful Aakash Kandils (Lamp Shades) & Umbrellas, Mirrors, Sola Carvings, Bangles and take them home as a remembrance.