Puri Dham

Puri Dham is the dwelling place of Lord Jagannath so this place is otherwise known as ‘Jagannath Dham’ or ‘Jagannath Puri’. It is a sacred place of pilgrimage and is one of the four holy dhamas of India (The others are Dvaraka, Badarinath and Rameshvaram). It is situated on the sea i.e. Bay of Bengal and is called Sri Purushottama Dhama, the abode of the Lord Vishnu on earth. Puri Dham is also called the spiritual capital of the state and sees millions of devotees throng the Jagannath Temple premises throughout the year seeking the blessings of Lord Jagannath. The temple has as many as 6000 priests. There is a wheel on the top of the Jagannath temple made of an alloy of 8 metals. It is called Nila-Chakra (blue wheel). Everyday a different flag is tied to a mast attached to the Nila-Chakra. Every Ekadashi a lamp is lit on the top of the temple near the wheel. The temple also has the largest kitchen in the world, and feeds thousands of devotees daily. The kitchen can prepare food for 100000 people on a festival day and 25,000 on a normal day.

Apart from being spiritually inclined, Puri Dham is known as the land of beaches and scenic beauty. It is known for its amazing fairs and festivals. Puri Dham hosts many colorful festivals throughout the year. One of the main ones among them is the Navakalebar. Out of all the festivals in Puri, the most significant is the Car festival and it becomes more important when associated with the Navakalebar.

Puri Dham, situated in Odisha, is also known as the land of temples and a pilgrimage of the temples of India is not considered complete without a journey to Puri Dham. Puri Dham is one of the seven most holy places for Hindus in India. Apart from being home to the most sacred Hindu Temple (Shree Jagannath temple), Puri Dham is famous for the Gundicha temple as well. It is one of the most renowned temples in Puri Dham.

Gundicha temple is the abode to which Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are driven each on his or her wooden car once in a year, during the car festival. It has some fascinating myths related to it. One myth says that Gundicha was the queen of the King Indradyumna, the legendary founder of the 1st great Jagannath temple. It is because of the deep loyalty of the queen Gundicha that Lord Jagannath prefers to pay a visit to her house for nine days during Car Festival.

Puri is also known for its Pancha Tirtha or the five sacred bathing spots. To complete a pilgrimage to Puri, Hindus consider it extremely important to bathe in these five sacred water bodies. They are:

1. Indradyumana Tank – It is situated near the Gundicha Temple. The Mahabharata describes King Indradyumna’s Ashvamedh Yagna and the advent of the four deities of the Jagannath cult. It describes how the holy Indradyumna tank was formed by the trodding of ground by thousands of cows donated by Indradyumna to Brahmins. To this day the Indradyumna tank is considered holy by pilgrims.

2. Rohini Kunda – Rohini Kunda is a holy well located within the Jagannath Temple premises, near the Vimala Temple. The Rohini Kunda is considered the abode of Narayan. On the holy kunda there is a symbol of Wheel and a Crow of four feet. As per the Puranas, hunter Jara Savara accidentally killed Krishna and cremated him. Krishna appeared in Jara’s dreams and told him that his remains would transform into a log that would float from the sea to the Rohini Kunda. Indradyumna with Jara’s help located the holy log from which the idol of Jagannath was carved.

3. Markandeya Tank – Markandeya Tank is considered the starting point of pilgrimage, for pilgrims to Puri. The water body is around 4 acres in size with the Markandeshwar Temple dedicated to Shiva situated beside it. The Markandeya Tank is supposed to be at the site where god saved sage Markandeya. At this spot, Markandeya is supposed to have meditated for a very long time.

4. Swetaganga Tank – This water body is located to the south of Nilachal. On the bank of this tank there are two small temples, dedicated to the Matsya Avatar of Vishnu and King Sweta. According to Mahabharata the Swetaganga was created from the nail of Lord Vishnu. The Swetaganga is situated in between Lions gate and Swargadwar. It is believed that there is an internal connection between Swetaganga and the river Ganga.

5. The Sea also called the Mahodadhi is considered a sacred bathing spot in the Swargadwar area.

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