Jagannath Temple
Location: Puri
Famous For : Jagannath, Balabhadra and the goddess Subhadra
District: Puri
History : The Jagannath Temple (Sanskrit: jagannath mandir; Oriya: ଶ୍ରୀ ଜଗନ୍ନାଥ ମନ୍ଦିର Sri Jagannāth Mandir) in Puri is a famous, sacred Hindu temple dedicated to Jagannath and located on the eastern coast of India, at Puri in the state of Odisha. The name Jagannath comes from the word Jagat-Nath which means 'Lord of the Universe' (Jagat = world, Nath = Master/protector)The temple is an important pilgrimage destination for many Hindu traditions, particularly worshippers of Krishna and Vishnu, and part of the Char Dham pilgrimages that a Hindu is expected to make in one's lifetime. The temple is one of the holiest Hindu Char Dham (four divine sites) sites comprising Rameswaram, Badrinath, Puri and Dwarka. Even though most Hindu deities that are worshiped are made out of stone or metal, the image of Jagannath is wooden. Every twelve years these wooden figures are ceremoniously replaced by using sacred trees, that have to be carved as an exact replica. The reason behind this ceremonial tradition is the highly secret Navakalevara ('New Body' or 'New Embodiment') ceremony, an intricate set of rituals that accompany the renewal of the wooden statues. The central forms of Jagannath, Balabhadra and the goddess Subhadra constitute the trinity of deities sitting on the bejewelled platform or the Ratnavedi in the inner sanctum. The Sudarshan Chakra, deities of Madanmohan, Sridevi and Vishwadhatri are also placed on the Ratnavedi. The deities of Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan Chakra are made from sacred Neem logs known as Daru Bramha. Depending on the season the deities are adorned in different garbs and jewels. Worship of the deities pre-date the temple structure and may have originated in an ancient tribal shrine. According to the recently discovered copper plates from the Ganga dynasty, the construction of the current Jagannath temple was initiated by the ruler of Kalinga, Anantavarman Chodaganga Dev. The Jaga mohan and the Vimana portions of the temple were built during his reign (1078 - 1148 CE). However, it was only in the year 1174 CE that the Oriya ruler Ananga Bhima Deva rebuilt the temple to give a shape in which it stands today. Jagannath worship in the temple continued until 1558, when Odisha was attacked by the Afghan general Kalapahad. Subsequently, when Ramachandra Deb established an independent kingdom at Khurda in Orissa, the temple was consecrated and the deities reinstalled. Shrikshetra of Puri Jagannath, as is commonly known, can verily be said to be a truthful replica of Indian culture. To understand this culture, one has to have some idea of the history of this land, which again is different from that of other countries of the world. Starting from Lord Jagannath himself, history has it that he was a tribal deity, adorned by the Sabar people, as a symbol of Narayan. Another legend claims him to be Nilamadhava, an image of Narayana made of blue stone and worshipped by the aboriginals. He was brought to Nilagiri (blue mountain) or Nilachala and installed there as Shri Jagannath in company with Balabhadra and Subhadra. The images made of wood are also claimed to have their distant linkage with the aboriginal system of worshipping wooden poles. To cap it all the Daitapatis, who have a fair share of responsibilities to perform rituals of the Temple, are claimed to be descendants of the aboriginals or hill tribes of Orissa. So we may safely claim that the beginning of the cultural history of Shrikshetra is found in the fusion of Hindu and Tribal Cultures. This has been accepted as a facet of our proud heritage. The three deities came to be claimed as the symbols of Samyak Darshan, Samyak Jnana and Samyak Charita usually regarded as Triratha (of the Jain cult), an assimilation of which leads to Moksha (salvation) or the ultimate bliss... Jagannath is worshipped as Vishnu or Narayana or Krishna and Lord Balabhadra as Shesha. Simultaneously, the deities are regarded as the bhairava with Vimala (the devi or the consort of Shiva) installed in the campus of the temple. So ultimately we find a fusion of Saivism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism of the Hindu religion with Jainism and up to an extent Buddhism in the culture of Jagannath and the cultural tradition so reverently held together in Shrikshetra.
How to Reach : The temple is located at a distance of 60 km from Bhubaneswar, on the coast of Bay of Bengal.There are many ways of getting to India and then to Puri. There are regular bus service from other main cities of the country to Puri. Puri is linked with Bhubaneswar by state highway no.8 and Bhubanaswar is situated along the National Highway no.5 connecting Chennai and Kolkata. The best way to go from Bhubaneswar to Puri is on one of the State Govt. buses, mini buses and tourist buses. For reaching around puri - cycle rickshaws are available all over town and also available auto rickshaws. Puri is well connected by Railways. The Railway Station of Puri is in The heart of the town and near to all hotels. The nearest airport is located in Bhubaneswar the capital city of Odisha. Bhubaneswar is connected by air to cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad.

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