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Puri-The Coastal Town of Odisha

The Coastal town of Orissa, is famous for its 800 years old monumental history Lord Jagannath Temple ( Bada Deula) Situated on the eastern coastline of the country, Puri is most well known as an important Hindu pilgrimage center. The Jagannath Temple, one of the four most important Hindu pilgrimage sites or the chardham is located here. Also, Puri’s wonderfully wide white-sand beaches, fishing farms and superb resorts make it an inviting tourist destination. The surf on the beaches here is one of the best on the entire eastern coastline of India, and dawn is a breathtaking sight. Visiting the Lord Jagannath temple, walking on the beach and experiencing the beauty of the sunrise and sunset are probably some of the best things to do in Puri. One could also visit the nearby small villages to look at the folk art and handicrafts, which are bright, colourful and exquisitely crafted items. The traditional methods of fishing used by the local fishermen are of interest, as is visiting nearby historic sites to garner a sense of the city’s history and the lifestyle of the locals.

Puri has a typical tropical climate and is best visited during the winters between October to April after the monsoon clears all the dust and dirt around. Light woolens may be required, for nights by the sea can be slightly chilly.

A place with many names over the centuries – Hilgiri, Niladri, Hilachal Purushottam, Sankhakshetra, Srikehetra, Jagannath Dham, Jagannath Puri – Puri is dominated by two great forces: the sea (Bay of Bengal) with its ever changing shape of constant motion, the other, the great temple of Lord Jagannath, a static, but no less dominant force.

Very few cities are so dominated by a single factor in so many diverse ways as Puri is, influenced by Lord Jagannath. A very large part of Puri’s population is connected with the temple in one way or the other. Some are involved in the service of Lord Jagannath (the Pandas and Purohits, others have gainful employment indirectly generated because of the deity.

Most people go to Puri for religious reasons – it being one of the four most holy Hindu ‘Dhams’ (meaning a holy place). But a very large number also go for both adventure as well as restful holidays. Drawing the maximum number of visitors as compared to any other place in Orissa, Puri not only has scores of hotels, but also hundreds of holiday homes owned by various organisations and business houses.

The never ending beach, the sea and the glorious skyscapes at dawn and dusk are to be experienced to be believed. There is the added attraction of one of the few remaining relies of the British period – the South Eastern Railway Hotel, There must be very few places left in India with such spacious rooms and so much living spaces. The lifestyle at this hotel can be an experience of a life-time for those coming from crowded cities.

Apart from Jagannath temple, the other two most important temples around are Lokanath Temple and Gundicha Temple.

Puri is an important pilgrimage and tourist center in the state of Orissa. Located towards the eastern coast of Orissa near Bay of Bengal, Puri is also part of the four Hindu pilgrimage cities, known as Char Dham. In the ancient times, Puri was once part of the kingdom of Kalinga, formed by Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan Empire in 260 BC.

Places of interest around Puri

Balighai (8 km)*
The Casuarina fringed Balighai beach is a famous picnic spot. The Sun and fun at the mouth of the river Nuanai is unforgettable.

Brahmagiri (25 km)*
Brahmagiri is known for the living shrine of Alarnath. Streams of pilgrims visit Alarnath during Anabasara of Lord Jagannath. Nearby is the shrine of Baliharachandi on the solitary sand dunes.

Satyabadi (20 km)*
Satyabadi or Sakshigopal is known for the shrine of Lord Sakshigopal. It is believed that the visit to Puri is incomplete without a visit to Sakshigopal. The temple is only 2 km away from the main road leading to Puri and is convenient to visit.

Baliharachandi (27 km)*
27 km to the south-west of Puri is the temple of Baliharachandi. Situated on a sandy hill near the sea and adjacent to the mouth of the river Bhargavi, Goddess Durga is worshipped here as Baliharachandi. The scenic beauty of this place is ideal for group picnic.

Raghurajpur (16 km)*
One of the most famous artists village in Orissa, the village of Raghurajpur boasts not only of the exquisite pattachitra’s and talapattachitra’s, but also of being the native place of Guru kelucharan Mohapatra, the famed Odissi dancer. Even today, under the tutelage of renowned Guru’s, young boys can be seen practicing the Gotipua dance here. A visit to Orissa would definitely be incomplete without a visit to this little village.

Satapara (52 km)*
Satapara, a retreat in nature on Chilika Lake, has been thrown open to visitors. Its location near the confluence of the Lake with the Bay of Bengal, and proximity to Puri (52 km), makes it an ideal spot to enjoy Chilika. The thrilling sight of dolphins round the year and abundance of migratory and resident birds in winter make it a preferred place for a vacation with nature. Chilka Lake of shimmering blue waters and the playfully jumping fish is the largest fresh water lake in Asia and is also called the ‘honeymooners paradise’ and ‘breakfast island’.

Pipli– If one has an interest in handicrafts of the locals, one must not miss a visit to the small village near Puri called Pipli. This place is famous for the appliqué work of the traditional Orissa style.

Caves of Wonder – The sixty odd caves of 2nd century BC caves set in the Udaygiri-Khandagiri hills with their ornate carvings and delicate friezes are major tourist attractions

HOW TO REACH
By Air – Bhubaneshwar is the nearest airport i.e. 60kms from Puri. It is well connected to the other major cities of India.
By Rail – Puri is wel connected to the major city of Orrisa by regular and few express trains.
By Road – Puri is well connected by road with important cities in and out of the state, Bhubaneshwar, Konark, Berhampur, Sambalpur and Kolkata.

WHEN TO GO
Best time to travel Puri is between October and May. The cities of Bhubaneswar and Konark should also be visited for their temples and beaches, and the beach of Balighai when on a trip to Puri.

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