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.
Did you know?
- Early British seafarers referred to the black granite Sun Temple at Konark as ‘black pagoda’ and the nearby white-washed Jagannath temple at Puri as ‘white pagoda’. They used these seaside temples as navigational landmarks!
- The English word ‘juggernaut’, with its connotation of an unstoppable force crushing whatever is in its path, is derived from ‘Jagannath’. In rare instances in the past, some people were caught or crushed under the massive and unstoppable chariot used for Lord Jagannath during the rath yatra, adding ‘juggernaut’ to the English vocabulary.
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