Jagannath Temple History
Jagannath Temple Weather and Accommodations
The best time to visit the Jagannath temple is from July to October when the temperature is cool and one can see the famous Rath Yatra in the month of July. One should avoid the months of April to June when summers are on the peak in Odisha. The months of December to February are quite cold but one can still visit the temples during these months.
The city of Puri is well connected with roads and also has adequate supports of railways and flights. So reaching Puri is an easy ob. For the temple, there is a car park a little away from the temple. One will either have to walk or take a rickshaw cycle till the temple. A thing to note is that one cannot carry their belongings inside the temple. You will have to submit them at the entrance which includes phones, cameras, shoes, and socks. Leather is completely banned inside the temple.
The temple has four gates from the main four directions. Every entrance is adorned by stone images of animals and that is how the gates are named. There is the Elephant Gate in the North, the Horse Gate in the South, the Lion Gate in the East and the Tiger Gate in the West. The gate on the east, the Lion Gate is the main gate and it is from here that most of the devotees enter. At the entrance of the main gate is the 11 meters high, monolithic pillar known as Aruna Stambha. In Hindu mythology, Aruna was the charioteer of the Sun God and the pillar was originally placed at the Sun Temple in Konark. In the 18th Century when the Konark temple was abandoned, the Aruna Stambha was shifted to the Jagannath Temple in Puri to protect it from invaders. Once you enter the temple complex you will see the “Baisi Pahaca” which means “twenty-two steps.” One has to climb 22 steps to reach the temple’s inner courtyard. It is generally said to visit all the other temples before visiting the main temple.
Other than that there are a couple of things one can see here. There is a museum on the west entrance, Niladri Vihar. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and his 12 incarnations. Then there is a banyan tree where devotees pray for the fulfillment of their wishes. But one of the things not to miss here is the temple’s kitchen. Some call it the world’s largest kitchen. It feeds over 1, 00,000 people on a daily basis and the food offered to the gods is freshly made here every day. One can view the kitchen by buying a pass. According to the char dham, Lord Vishnu dines at Puri (he bathes at Rameshwaram, gets dressed and anointed at Dwarka, and meditates at Badrinath). So, food is given a lot of significance at the Jagannath Temple. Lord Jagannath (Vishnu) is offered bhog (food) six times a day. Each time there are 56 items which are offered to him. As a means of redemption and spiritual advancement, the devotees are allowed to consume this mahaprasad. It can be bought from Ananda Bazaara which is inside the temple complex at a nominal price.
Rituals and the Rath Yatra
Only Hindus are allowed to enter this temple. People from other religion can look at the temple from nearby buildings. There are around 20 rituals held every day at the temple. They reflect the day to day activities carried out by mankind in everyday life and start with brushing teeth, bathing, getting dressed, having food, etc. The rituals start at 5 a.m. when the temple opens and goes on till midnight when the temple closes.
There are two ways to enter and see the deities here:
- One can attend the public darshan (viewing) which are held for an hour each morning. It is known as Sahana Mela and it takes place between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.
- Or one can buy a “Parimanik Darshan” ticket from inside the temple complex priced at Rs 50/- each. Even with the passes, people are permitted to only go inside at fixed times of the day after certain rituals. These times are 5 a.m., 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. One is advised to arrive 30 minutes beforehand to buy these tickets.