The abode of Lord Jagannath, Puri is a beautiful coastal city situated along the Bay of Bengal in the state of Odisha. Among the numerous places to visit in Puri, the most important is Shree Jagannath Temple – one of the four holiest Hindu pilgrimage sites (Char Dham). Besides other prominent temples, Puri is also dotted with a number of sacred tanks, including Pancha Tirth, where devotees need to take a dip to complete their pilgrimage. The city also has one of the most beautiful beaches in the state, which also holds religious significance for Hindus.
Scroll down to know more about these places to visit in Puri for a fulfilling experience:
Places to Visit in Puri:
1. Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri
Puri is synonymous with Shree Jagannath Temple, one of the four pilgrimage centres in India for Hindus that make the Char Dham. This magnificent temple is dedicated to the Lord of the Universe, who is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. His brother Lord Balabhadra and sister Goddess Subhadra (forming the holy triad) are also worshipped here.
The shrine was first built in the 12th century but many additions were done to it up till the 16th century. Presently, it stands on a raised platform and is surrounded by two concentric walls – the inner one, Kuruma Bheda and the outer one, Meghnad Pachira. There are four gates along the cardinal directions, the main one (Singhadwara) being situated in the east.
Every year, the festival of Puri Rath Yatra or Chariot Festival celebrated in the month of June-July attracts millions of devotees from across the globe owing to its grandeur.
- Timings: 5 am to 11 pm
2. Puri Beach, Puri
Like the revered temple, Puri Beach is also a must-visit for tourists coming to the city. Situated along the Bay of Bengal, the beach remains crowded with devotees, who take a dip here after paying obeisance at Shree Jagannath Temple. Apart from the religious significance, it is also a tourist hotspot because of its clean sandy shore and roaring waves.
The mesmerising views at the time of sunrise or sunset attract a lot of visitors to this site. You can also find a couple of stalls here selling snacks and souvenirs. Puri Beach Festival, organised in November, is a major crowd-puller due to its vibrant cultural events.
3. Loknath Temple, Puri
Less than 5 km from Jagannath Temple lies Loknath Temple, one of the most popular religious places to visit in Puri. The 11th-century shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and the lingam here remains submerged in a natural underground fountain for most part of the year. The water is cleared on Pankoddhar Ekadashi, three days prior to the auspicious Shivaratri Festival, making the lingam clearly visible; thousands of devotees visit the temple on this occasion.
- Timings: 6 am to 9 pm
4. Raghurajpur Artist Village, Puri
Raghurajpur is a heritage crafts village with over 120 houses of artists engaged in different art forms, the most prominent of which is Pattachitra. The term ‘Pattachitra’ is a combination of two words – patta meaning cloth and chitra meaning painting – collectively meaning painting on cloth. These paintings have religious and mythical themes, generally revolving around the holy triad – Lord Jagannath, His brother Lord Balabhadra and sister Goddess Subhadra.
Besides cloth pieces including the famous tassar fabric, you can also find these paintings being done on dried palm leaves as well as coconut and betel nuts. You can even buy papier-mâché masks and toys made out of stone and wood as souvenirs for loved ones at this village.
- Timings: 8 am to 6 pm
5. Jambeswara Temple, Puri
Legends have it that Puri was once a land of Shiva worship, and one of the popular shrines in the city dedicated to Him is Jambeswara Temple. Since the deity is worshipped as Yameswara here, the shrine is also known as Yameswar Temple. This lesser-known yet significant temple is believed to have been constructed between the 10th and 11th century.
Although all Hindu festivals are celebrated here with great fervour, it is Shivaratri that attracts maximum number of devotees to this ancient religious site in Puri.
- Location: Harachandi Sahi Road, Puri
- Timings: 6 am to 9 pm
6. Narendra Sarovar, Puri
Narendra Sarovar is believed to be the largest of all holy tanks in Puri at nearly 3.24 hectares. Also known as Narendra Pokhari and Narendra Tank, this reservoir has an island with a temple dedicated to the holy triad: Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra.
It is also the venue of the famous summer festival, Chandan Yatra. The festival is named so as the holy triad is worshipped with chandan (chandan meaning sandal in English) during it. The 42-day long festival begins on Akshaya Tritiya and on the same day, the construction of rath or the chariot for the world-renowned Car Festival or Rath Yatra of Puri commences.
- Location: Athar Nala Road, Puri
- Timings: 5 am to 9 pm
7. Markandeshwar Temple, Puri
Another popular Shiva temple in Puri is Markandeshwar Temple, which is also referred to as Markandesvara Temple, Markandeya Shiva Temple and Markandeshwar Mahadeva Temple. As per the legends, this shrine was built by sage Markandeya after being rescued by Lord Shiva while meditating; hence the name.
This popular shrine is associated with many Hindu rituals and ceremonies, including Chandra Yatra, Kaliyadalan, Balabhadra Janma and Sital Sasthi, to name a few. Many believe that the temple was an important religious site in the 12th century during the rule of the Eastern Ganga dynasty, as suggested by stone inscriptions found at the temple and the nearby Markandeya tank – one of the Pancha Tirtha of Puri.
- Location: Near Bindu Sagar, Puri
- Timings: 6 am to 9 pm
8. Gundicha Temple, Puri
Around 3 km from the Jagannath Temple lies the popular Gundicha Temple, amidst a beautiful garden. Also known as the Garden House of Jagannath, this shrine is believed to have been a summer garden retreat of the holy triad.
Built using light-grey sandstone in typical Kalinga style of architecture, this shrine comprises four main parts – Vimana (tower structure having the sanctum), Jagamohana (assembly hall), Natamandapa (venue of all festivals) and Bhogamandapa (offerings hall). It is located at the end of Bada Danda – the main route of Puri Rath Yatra; the deities enter it from the west gate and come out of the one on the east (Nakachana).
- Location: Bada Danda, Puri
- Timings: 6 am to 9 pm
9. Pancha Tirtha, Puri
Pancha Tirtha refers to the five holy bathing kunds (tanks) in Puri: Indradyumna, Markandeya, Swetaganga, Rohini and Mahodadhi. It is considered important for pilgrims to bathe in these ponds to complete their religious journey in Puri.
Markandeya Tank near Markandeshwar Temple is considered to be the starting point of this pilgrimage and believed to be the place where Lord Vishnu resided as a neem tree. Rohini Kund lies within Jagannath Temple premises while Indradyumna is close to Gundicha Temple. Swetaganga Tank is located south of Niladri, the abode of Lord Jagannath. Mahodadhi is the holy bathing spot in Swargadwar, which is believed to be the gateway to heaven and devotees take a dip here to attain moksha or salvation.
Apart from the aforementioned places, you can also explore Pipili – a heritage crafts village known for its applique work and Sudarshan Crafts Museum that displays paintings, sculptures and handicraft items by the famous sculptor and artist Sudarshan Sahoo. In addition, you can seek blessings at Vimala Temple, which is visited by tantric worshippers, and Mausima Temple that lies between Jagannath Temple and Gundicha Temple. The 8th-century Govardhan Math established by Adi Shankaracharya and Lakshmi Temple, where Goddess Lakshmi is believed to have invited Shiva and Parvati after marriage also attract a large number of visitors.