Puri is one of the four most famous holiest cities of Hindus in India. Its one of the four Dhams. The beach town of Puri is situated about 55 kms. from Bhubaneshwar. According to legends, Puri was once a thickly wooded hill inhabited by the Sabaras (Pre-Aryan and Pre-Dravidian tribes of the Austric linguistic family). Puri is the abode of Lord Jagannath and known for its famous Jagannath Temple and Puri beach. The Jagannath temple is also known for its famous Rath Yatra or Car Festival which attract thousands of pilgrims. The sense of devotion heightens in Puri with nearly every aspect of the place touched by the aura of the magnificent temple. Puri can be visited round the year, but the best season to visit Puri is from November to March.

The main tourist attraction in Puri is the Lord Jagannath Temple and Puri beach. Some other important temples in Puri are Gundicha, Lokanath, Sunaragauranga, Daria Mahabir and Tota Gopinatt. There are also various monasteries locally known as mathas in Puri.

 

Excursions from Puri

 

Balighai (8 km)
The Balighai beach is a famous picnic spot situated about 8 kms. from Puri. The Sun and fun at the mouth of the Nuanai river is unforgettable. 

Brahmagiri (25 km)
Brahmagiri is known for the living shrine of Alarnath. Various pilgrims visit Alarnath during Anabasara of Lord Jagannath. 

Satyabadi (20 km)
Satyabadi or Sakshigopal temple is situated only 20 km away from the main road leading to Puri. The main deity in this temple is the Sashigopal or Child Krishna. According to the legend, the Child Krishna was called here as a witness in the dispute between the two Brahmins and then remained here beecause of its attraction. It is believed that the visit to Puri is incomplete without a visit to Sakshigopal. 

Baliharachandi (27 km)
The shrine of Baliharachandi is situated on the solitary sand dunes, about 27 km to the south-west of Puri. This temple is situated on a sandy hill near the sea and adjacent to the mouth of the river Bhargavi. The goddess Durga is worshipped here as Baliharachandi. The scenic beauty of this place is ideal for group picnic. 

Raghurajpur (16 km)
Raghurajpur is one of the most famous artist village in Orissa, situated about 16 kms. from Puri. The village of Raghurajpur boasts not only of the exquisite Pattachitra and Talapattachitra, but is also the native place of Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra, the famous Odissi dancer. Even today, under the tutelage of renowned Guru, young boys can be seen practicing the Gotipua dance here. 

Satapara (52 km)
Satapara is located near the confluence of the Lake with the Bay of Bengal, about 52 kms. from Puri. This is an ideal place to enjoy Chilka lake and retreat in nature. Dolphins, migratory and resident birds can be seen in this place.

 

Shopping in Puri

Soap Stone, Sea-shell, Pattachitras, Palm Leaf paintings, Horn work, Wood carvings, wooden images of the deities, art and craft works and Solapith work can be purchased from Puri.

 

About Mathas and Ashrams in Puri

Most of the Mathas of Puri have ritual relation with the Sri Jagannath temple.

 

Jagannath Ballav Matha

It is so to say the pleasure garden of Lord Jagannath.The "Bije pratimas" (the representative images) of the Lords visit this Matha on different festive occasions like "Basanta Panchami",on the 1st,4th,5th,and 12th days in the bright fortnight of Falguna.This Matha supplies flower-ornaments like 'tilak'and 'jhumpa' for Baddasinghara besha and supplies 'Kora' (a sweet food) for 'Kaliya dalana' and 'Pralambasura badha' beshas.It also supplies'dayana' for 'dayana chori' ritual. This Matha situated on the grand road has a trust board under the administrative control of the Endowment Commissioner of the State. It has no Mahanta.

 

Raghaba Das Matha

It is situated near the southern gate of the Jagannath temple.This Matha supplies 'tahia' on Snana purnima,Car festival,Return Car festival and Niladribije days.It supplies a part of the Hati besha.It supplies 'tuli' for pahandiand a certain quantity of sandal wood for 'Sarbanga' neeti on 'Khalilagi ekadasi.It also supplies flower garlands for 'Nabanka bedha' and offers 'adhara pana bhog' and 'panti bhog' on certain festive days.

 

Oriya Matha

This Matha is responsible for supply of the materials for certain rituals.It supplies,'trimundi chandua' and silk clothes for ' Chaka apasara',repairs 'Kanakamundi'.It also supplies till oil for Phuluri neeti, oil and ghee etc.for 'Deva deepawali',offers 'Chakata bhg'in 'Anasara' and adharpana bhog' and 'Panti bhog' on certain days. On Neeladri bije day,the Mahanta makes ‘majana’ of ratnavedi.

This Matha was set up by Atibadi Jagannath Das,a poet-saint of Odisha in early part of the 16th century.

 

Emar Matha

It was established by the Saint Ramanuja. This Matha supplies 'Chandrika'and 'Chausara' made of flowers for the Badasinghar besha of the Lords,'Mala' and 'Chula' for the 'nabanka' ritual.It offers 'Pana bhog'during the Chandan Yatra, 'Chakata bhog' during the 'anasara' period and 'bala bhog' during the month of Kartika.

 

Gopaltirtha Matha

This Matha supplies a part of 'Hati besha' on the Snana Purnima day and ' makara chula' on the Snana Purnima and Makara sankranti days and offers panti bhog.

 

Gobardhan Matha

It was established by the great Sankaracharya in the Swargadwar area.Puri became one of the four important 'dhamas'(places) of Hinduism because of the establishment of this Matha by the great Saint.

The head of this Matha also known as Sankaracharya is the permanent head (nayak) of the Muktimandap of the Sri Jagannath temple by virtue of his position.The temple authorities used to consult him in religious or ritual matters whenever necessary.

 

Bada chhata Matha

Situated in front of the temple. Performs 'Kirtan' at the time of 'mangala alati' and 'pahuda alati' and bala dhupa.Padma besha of the Lords is done and 'Kshiri bhog' offered by this Matha.

 

Suna goswami Matha

It supplies flower ornaments like 'alaka' and 'chausara' during the Chandan Yatra, makes 'majana' of 'ratnavedi' at the time of 'banakalagi',supplies 'adhibasa jala' from the well of Sitala for Snana purnima rituals,and offers 'panti bhog' to Dola Govinda at the time of 'Agniutschaba'.The Mahanta of this matha also happens to be the mahanta of Darpanarayan Matha.

 

Mangu Matha

It is located by the side of the Emar Matha. It is associated with the memory of Guru Nanak.There is another Matha of Guru Nanak sect,known as Baaul Matha. The other Maths connected with the affairs of Sri Jagannath temple are Sri Ram Das (Dakhina parshaw)Matha,Uttara parshaw Matha,Trimali Matha,Mahiprakash Matha,Sankarananda Matha Gangamata Matha,Radhaballav Matha,Labanikhia Matha,Chhauni Matha,Jhadu Matha,Papudia Matha,Nebal Das Matha, Devagiri Matha,Pipili Sadabarta Matha,Sanachhata Matha, Jhanjapita Matha,Samadhi Matha,Balaram Kota Matha,Badasantha Matha,Ramji Matha,Sidhabakula Matha,Venkatachari Matha,Narasinghachari Matha,Ghumusara Matha,(now in ruins),Radhakanta Matha,(Sri Chaitanya visited Puri in 1510 AD and stayed in this Matha.Some of his personal belongings have been preserved in this Matha).Kothabhog Matha,Mahabir Matha etc.The mahantas of these Matha are entitled to perform 'Upachara Chamara seva,but most of them are not doing the seva. The Mathas are under the control of State Endowment Commissioner.There are two Mathas under the Sri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee. They are Chaulia Matha and Delhi Nalak Ram Das Matha (near Gundicha temple).There is another Matha known as Sata lahadi Matha in the Swargadwar area.It is the burial place of Atibadi Jagannath Das,author of the Bhagabata purana in Oriya.This Matha is being managed by a committee under the Chairmanship of Collector,Puri.Another Matha located in the same area is the Kabir choura Matha,associated with the Kabir sect. It is said that Kabir,the mystic poet stayed here when he visited Puri.There are some other Matha unconnected with the rituals of the Jagannath temple like Chaitanya Goudiya Matha,Purusottam Goudiya Matha,Panjabi Matha etc.Many Mathas have stopped performing services in the temple and those who perform now,do so to a limited extent.Some of the Mathas are entitled to get 'Khei'(a portion of the Kotha bhog) of the temple.

Outside Puri town, there is another Matha in the Kakatpur village area,known as Deuli Matha which is connected with the Nabakalebar ceremony of the temple.

 

The Four Ashrams

Connected with certain rituals of the temple of Jagannath,there are four Ashrams (hermitages) in Puri town.These are Angira Ashram,Pandu Ashram, Markandeya Ashram and Parasara ( Ugrasena)Ashram. On the ninth day of the bright fortnight of Sravana,the Nrusimha deity of the Sri Jagannath temple pays a visit in a ceremonial manner to these four Ashrams.This is called 'Badi Nrusimha bije'.'Sital bhog' is offered to the Deity in each Ashram.On the full moon day of Margasira,Nrusingha again visits these places.On the full moon day of Sravana,Lord Sudarshan visits all these Ashrams. These Ashrams are being managed by different local committees. There are some other Ashrams not ritually connected with the Sri Jagannath temple.Some of those Ashrams are Bijaya Krushna Goswami Ashram(near the Narendra tank),Adwait Brahmashram (Girinarbanta), Omkarnath Thakur or Neelachal Ashram (Swargadwar area), Karar Ashram (founded by the great Kriya yogi Sri Yukteswar Giri, (Swargadwar area)Bharat Sevashram (Swargadwar area),Pranabananda Ashram (near Chakratirtha),Satsangha Ashram (Chakratirtha road),Nigamananda Ashram (Lokanath road),Dibyadham Yogashram (Chakratirtha road),Maa Anandayamayi Ashram (near Swargadwar), Abhiram Paramahanshashram (marichikote lane), Bhagabat Ashram (near bus stand),Haridas Ashram (Sarbodaya nagar).