Puri is renowned for its patachitras, intricate religious paintings on silk and cotton fabric, originally created as wall hangings in the temple of Lord Jagannath. Fringed by the shimmering blue sea and soft golden sand, the colourful temple town itself is like one big patachitra.
Located along the Bay of Bengal coastline, Puri has one of the finest beaches in the country. The casuarina tree-lined beach with its languid waters and huge works of sand art are captivating. The beach is unique in that you can see both the sunrise and sunset from here. Doing nothing by the beachside is as pleasurable an activity here as swimming or surfing in the waters.
Apart from its laidback beaches, Puri is famous for the Jagannath temple. Built in the 12th century AD in the distinctive Kalinga style of architecture, it is the abode of Lord Jagannath, an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. The temple sprawls across 10.7 acres of land, with its spire soaring 65 metres into the sky, visible anywhere in Puri. The grandeur of the temple, its customs, and the reigning deity suffuse all aspects of life in Puri and leave no visitor to the town untouched.
Shopping is one of Puri’s other charms. Vivid ikat and double-ikat textiles, appliqué art lampshades, garden umbrellas, wall hangings, bead and bamboo works, tarkashi or silver filigree objects, palm-leaf inscriptions, or of course, the patachitra, there’s always a bit of Puri you can take home.
- Area: 3,051 sq km
- State: Orissa
- Distance from nearby towns/ cities: Bhubaneswar (state capital of Orissa, 65 km away); Konark (35 km away)
- Take away: Pata or patachitra, which are folk-religious paintings on cloth in typical colours of red, black, yellow, white and indigo blue; appliqué work items like wall hangings, etc; ikat sarees and dress materials; Bomkai and Sambalpuri sarees; tarkashi or silver filigree work; kitsch like miniature reproductions of Konark wheels and other handicrafts
#1. Bada Danda or the Grand Avenue, is known for the grand Puri Jagannath procession that takes place on this road annually. Three richly decorated chariots, resembling temple structures, are pulled through this street. The road also opens up to the east facing main gate of the temple called The Singahdwara, which in Sanskrit means The Lion Gate. It is one of the four gates to the temple and forms the main entrance.
#2. The Daya River which flows through Puri district was called the 'river of blood' after the Kalinga war. It is believed that it was on the banks of this river that Emperor Ashoka reflected with remorse upon the destruction caused by the Kalinga war and turned to non-violence by embracing Buddhism. The Buddhists have also constructed a Stupa on the hill called 'Dhaulagiri' overlooking the Daya river on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. It is a Stupa worth visiting for its massive depictions of Buddha in different postures.
#3. The Balukhand Wildlife Sanctuary is a sandy tract covered by dry deciduous mixed forest with rich wildlife and attractive topographical features. Located along the coast between Puri and Konark, it is the ideal habitat of the Chausingha, the four-horned deer, spotted deer and Blackbuck. The sanctuary is also the source of more than 30 springs and home to more than 300 species of rare plants and animals.
#4. Situated along the sea shore in Puri, Swargadwar is a major tourist attraction owing to the mythical stories attached to this place. It is believed that a person who passes away at this place will directly attain moksha or salvation. Another common belief is that a very famous Vaishnava saint, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu merged into the sea at this spot on the coast. It is also known for its night market for handicrafts.
#5. The Devi Vimala Temple is one of the four Adi Sankara peethas in India and is a must-visit before you go to the main Jagannath Temple. It is believed that offering sindoor, iron and lac bangles to the deity promotes a happy marriage. Goddess Vimala is considered to be the Tantric consort of Jagannath and the guardian of the temple complex. The temple is located in the south-west corner of the inner enclosure of the Jagannath temple complex next to the sacred pond Rohini Kunda.
#6. Baliharachandi Beach is a tranquil and beautiful beach located about 27 km from Puri, where you can get a breathtaking view of the sunset. Another interesting attraction is the meandering sand dunes at the beach. The locality is also known for the shrine of the Goddess Harachandi.
#7. Dating back to 12th century AD, The Markandeswara Temple is one of the 52 most sacred Shiva temples in the country and is also one of the Pancha Tirthas of Puri. The ancient Markandeswar Shiva Temple is situated to the north of the Jagannath temple. The Markandeya Tank situated next to the temple is an open structure and it is enclosed within a stone wall made of laterite blocks.
#8. Narendra Tank in Puri is one of the largest public tanks in India. The temple was built in the 15th century by Narendra Dev, one of the rulers of the Kingdom. This is the holy tank in which the famed Chandana Yatra of Lord Jagannath is celebrated annually. Surrounded by many small and big temples, the tank has 16 Ghats also. It is estimated that a million people visit the tank every year.
#9. Rajhans Island near the beautiful Chilka Lake is Asia’s second largest water lagoon and is the perfect viewing spot for dolphins. The island got its name after the beautiful Rajhans bird. It is one of the few unspoiled habitats for birds, dolphins, crabs and other sea creatures.
#10. The International Beach Festival of Puri is held on the beautiful beach of Swargadwara in Puri and celebrates the splendid spirit of Odisha. The major attraction of the event is the sand art display by renowned artists. It is organized by the Odisha government with the objective of showcasing the talent of local people to visiting tourists.
#11. Basant Utsav is the annual Spring Festival signifying the onset of Basant Ritu (spring) in Raghurajpur Cultural Village near Puri. This festival highlights the spiritual and devotional aspects of Indian performing arts. It is also an opportunity for upcoming young artists in the field of dance and music to showcase their talents.
#12. Pakhala is a popular traditional Oriya dish made of rice, water and yoghurt, fermented overnight. Eating pakhala has been recommended to prevent heat stroke in hot weather. It's interesting to note that this dish is also added to the Prasad of Lord Shri Jagannath of Puri.
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Jun to Oct
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The winter months of October to February are the most pleasant time to be in Puri. Or you might want to visit Puri for
- Rath Yatra – June-July (precise dates change each year)
- Birds at Chilka Lake – October to March (migratory season)
- Puri Beach Festival – Early November (check precise dates); it’s an open-air gala of Oriya craft, cuisine, and cultural evenings, with contemporary fashion shows and rock shows as well