Puri - The Soul of India!

Are you an adventurer or a religious buff, fond of arts or festivals or simply fun-loving? Never mind whatever you like, Odisha, (formerly Orrisa) has something for everyone! Located on the eastern coast along 500km long coastline, Odisha, the ‘Soul of India’, is a combination of scenic locations, natural and historical wonders!

Some of the major attractions of Odisha are famous Jagannath Temple in Puri, 700-year-old Sun Temple at Konark, India’s biggest salt-water lake Chilka, popular white sand beach of Gopalpur-on-sea, which is ideal for sailing, surfing, swimming and sun-bathing. Bhitarkanika and Nandankanan are among 18 of its national parks, which is home to thickest mangrove forest, red silk cotton trees and rare flora and fauna species. Tourists also visit Odisha to celebrate Durga Puja, Konark Dance Festival, Kalinga Mahotsava and the most famous Rath Yatra (car-festival).

The best time to visit Odisha is in winters, which stays between October and February, when the temperature goes as low as 12 degrees. Odisha's capital Bhubaneshwar enjoys direct flights, road and railway networks from all major Indian cities. The tourists can take taxis, buses to reach its destination from Bhubaneshwar airport. You can also book hotels online ahead of your visit but confirm your hotel facilities before booking. 

Sun Temple, Konark

Don’t miss out on 700-year-old magnificent Sun Temple located at Konark that is considered as one of the best dedications to the Sun God as it features sun’s movement around chariot. Ganga Dynasty’s King Narasimhadeva built this chariot-shaped temple, holding 24 giant wheels with seven horses, in the 13th Century. The spokes of the wheels created sundial that is said to have used in time calculation during the day. The first wheel at the temple’s entrance said to have caught the first ray of the rising Sun every morning.

The granite-made temple is also said to have contained a great mass of iron and magnets on which the entire structure stood. Of the two main magnets, one was at the top, while the other in the basement and the Sun God idol was in the air in between with the help of magnetic force. The diamond on the idol used to reflect rays of the sun, that’s how the temple got its name Kon-ark – which corner/angle of the Sun. The magnet was so powerful that it used to affect ships’ magnetic compass, forcing them to bang on to its shores. The Portuguese removed these magnets to protect ships’ destruction since Konark was major port at that time, causing the collapse of this most magnificent structure, which proves India’s architectural, astronomical and electromagnetism might. In 1984, the UNESCO also declared it a World Heritage site.

The art lovers should plan a visit to Konark in December at a time when it hosts a three-day cultural extravaganza that calls performers from across the country to show various classical India dance forms like Kathak, Bharatnatyam and Odisi etc. Spiritual tourists visit Konark during Magha Saptami Fair in full moon phases of January/February when devotees take holy bath, watch sunrise over the sea and worship nine planets as a custom.

Jagannath Temple, Puri
Odisha is home to many historical monuments and temples, among them, the most popular one is the Jagannath Temple of Puri, which is believed to have been established in the 12th century to pay homage to the Lord of the Universe. Besides its historic importance, the temple is one of the four significant pilgrimage center of Char Dham Yatra for people following Hinduism in the Indian subcontinent.

Rath Yatra, Puri
Puri is also famous for Rath Yatra or annual "Festival of Chariots" that occurs between June-July every year. During this time of the year, the deities of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra are taken out of the temple on a chariot for holy view. First the three deities are brought out and taken to royal bath and then taken back to the temple for 15-day isolation for repainting and preparation for the Rath Yatra. The festival begins with the procession of deities on the chariots on the second day of the bright fortnight of June (Ashadha) from Puri temple to Gundicha Ghar and ends nine days later on its return. Foreigners and millions of devotees from all parts of the country come to Puri at this time in a belief that the participation in the festival will earn them a safe passage to heaven. The 'Rath Yatra' will begin on June 29 and 'Bahuda Jatra' (return car festival) will be on July 7 this year.

Puri Beach

Besides being a popular pilgrimage point for religious and spiritual tourists, Puri offers a unique opportunity to see sunrise and sunset from the same beach.

Indian and foreign tourists flock the Main Marine Drive Road parallel to Puri Beach during Annual Beach Festival in November. Fine sands of Puri Beach also attract internationally famed sand sculptor Sudarshan Patnaik during this time. 

The holiday-makers can spend time leisurely in swimming, sun-bathing and playing along the roars of the mighty sea. Camel rides in moon light along the coastal line is another fun-way to enjoy your holidays in Puri. Families can also have a great time at food stalls and shopping around this time.

Bedi Hanuman Temple, Puri
India is a country of rich historical heritage with many untold stories lying in its every corner. One such is of Bedi Hanuman – a temple lies on the Chakrateertha road of Puri, near Jagannath temple. The story goes like – "Once sea created huge havoc on the town of Puri, creating trouble for saints by washing away their houses. Saints had no place for meditation, so Saint Angirasa went to Lord Jagannath and requested him to find a way for them. The Lord ordered Hanuman to save the town. Hanuman, who was very fond of travelling, stood at 'Chakrateerth' and prevented waves from doing any damage to Puri. The mighty sea could not do anything in Hanuman’s presence but would create havoc when Hanuman goes out of town. Seeing this, the saint again went to Lord Jagannath for help and the lord gave a chain to Angirasa to tie Hanuman. Next morning, when Hanuman found himself tied on 'Chakrateerth', he became very angry and stood to break the chain, but when he saw Lord Ram’s name on it, he accepted the bondage and remained there forever.

Gahirmatha Beach

Whether or not you are a marine buff, you must not miss out on Gahirmatha beach during your visit to Odisha. It is not just another beach but a place famous for nesting of ‘endangered’ Olive Ridley Sea Turtles. It is Odisha’s only marine wildlife sanctuary where Olive Ridley Sea Turtles come every year in the month of November for mating and nesting across the coast. Since the coast becomes home to migrating turtles, it is considered important for turtle conservation.

To reach Puri: Cuttack railway station at 100km away is the nearest station from this place, while Bhubaneshwar airport is only 130km away. Taxis and buses can also be availed easily from any part of the state.

Contributed by Anuja Shrivastava...

If you are planning, keep time for Kolkata too. Kolkata, the cultural capital of India is only 500 km, 8-10 hours journey from Puri.


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  1. Captivating details about the place...have to visit it soon...

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