|Type of Tourism||: Pilgrimage|
|Area||: 16.84 sq. km|
|Population||: 157,610 (As per Indian census- 2001)|
|Best Tourist Season||: October to March|
|Languages spoken||: Oriya, Bengali, Hindi, English|
|Telephone Code||: India (06752), International (+91)|
|Pin Code||: 752001|
|Clothing recommended||: Light cotton in summer, light woolen in winter.|
|What to buy||: 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.|
|Local transportation||: Auto Rickshaw, Cycle Rickshaw, Rented Motor Bikes1|
Puri, the headquarters of the ‘Puri District’ is a city lying on the eastern littoral margin of the Bay of Bengal in the state of Orissa. Considered to be one of the oldest cities in eastern part of Indian peninsula, Puri constitutes one of the angles of the Golden Triangle of Orissa, the other two being Bhubaneswar and Konark. Also recognized by the name Jagannath Puri, this is a highly revered pilgrim destination for Hindus and one of the holy Char Dhams of India. Puri is the holy abode of Lord Jagannath (the Lord of the world) and it is stated that the pilgrimage to all the temples in India is not considered complete and fruitful until and unless you pay homage to the Lord Jagannath of Jagannath Puri. This is the only Vaishnavite shrine in India where Radha is also worshipped in a Krishna temple along with his other consorts.
Puri is also applauded for its geographical position and its beaches. This city is settled at such a coastal station from where the spellbinding vistas of both rising and setting sun can be viewed from the oceanfront. Jagannath Puri has contributed a word to English language ‘Juggernaut’ meaning destructive and sacrificial devotion. This word is derived from the massive Rathas (wagons) used to carry the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balarama and Subhadra at the time of Ratha Yatra. Other than the religious significance and captivating appeal or gorgeous beaches, the city is also remarkable for its rich historical and cultural heritage and architectural splendor. Puri has recently emerged as a developing industrial hub due to its chief industries such as rice milling, fish curing and handicrafts. Moreover, Puri contributes a major part in the tourism industry of Orissa as well as India.
History of Puri
The word Puri has derived from Sanskrit language which means a town or a city. Linguists establish a link between the Sanskrit word ‘Puri’ and the Greek word ‘Polis’. Puri, the earthly abode of Lord Jagannath (Vishnu) has been known by several names over the years. Puranas, the holy scriptures of Hinduism record the various names of this city - Srikshetra, Shankhakshetra, Neel?chala, Neel?dri, Purusottama Dh?ma, Purusottama Kshetra, Purusottama Puri and Jagannath Puri.
The legendary background as recorded by Puranas like Skanda Purana and Brahma Purana assert that originally Lord Jagannath was secretly worshipped by a King of Sabara tribe named Viswavasu in a dense forest of Odra Desha (Orissa). He worshipped the God by the name ‘Neela Madhab’. Sabaras used to make the idols of deities out of red wood. King Indradyumna, curious about this mystical God sent Vidyapati, a Brahmin priest to this place in order to find out the Lord Neela Madhab. Vidyapati designed a scheme and got married to the daughter of King Viswavasu. Falling for the requests of his son – in – law, Viswavasu lead Vidyapati blindfolded to the cave where the deity was seated. Intelligent Vidyapati had dropped mustard seeds on the path which assisted him in finding out the place later on.
Vidyapati sent the message to the King Indradyumna who immediately rushed to the place. But to his disappointment, the deity had disappeared in the sand. Indradyumna, determined not to return without having the auspicious darshana of the Lord observed fast unto death at Mount Neela. The Lord Vishnu pleased with his penance made a celestial voice which declared that the King will get the darshana. Afterwards, the King Indradyumna built a magnificent temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu where he placed the idol brought by Sage Narada. Later, the king received a vision of a certain holy wood log that he would find at the sea shore out of which he was supposed to make the idols. Accordingly, he got the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balarama (Balabhadra), Subhadra and a Sudarshan Charka made and installed them in the temple.
Switching to the factual records, Puri was initially known by the name ‘Charitra’. The world famous temple of Lord Jagannath was established by a Ganga King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva in 1135 AD. Adi Shankaracharya, the great Hindu philosopher and reformer proclaimed Puri as one of the Char Dhams and founded one of the famous four Mathas (Hindu Monastery) here. In 12th century this region was reined by the kings of Ganga Dynasty who increased the religious grandeur of this holy abode. Originally this temple was called Purusottama Temple which was renamed as Jagannath Temple in 15th century during the governance of Gajapatis. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the revered Vaishnavite saint from Bengal inhabited Puri in 15th century.
Puri belonged to Kataka province under the rule of Mughals and in 1751 AD it was dominated by Marathas. Marathas introduced certain changes in the revenue divisions of this territory. Later, during the British Raj, they annexed Puri with Orissa in the year 1803 and in 1804, Puri was divided into two sections – Northern and Southern. Today Puri is a foremost pilgrim destination in India and a sacred place to die at.