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Jagannath Temple, Puri

Jagannath Temple
Jagannath Temple is one of the most renowned as well as the biggest temple of Orissa. Established in 12th century, the temple is dedicated to lord Jagannath (Lord Krishna), Lord of the Universe. The credit for laying the foundation of the Jagannath temple of Puri goes to Raja Ananta Varman Chodaganga Dev. The temple is located at a distance of 60 km from Bhubaneswar, on the coast of bay of Bengal, and is greatly revered by the devotees following the Vaishnava traditions.

There is an interesting legend associated with the Jagannath temple of Puri, It is said that King Indrudyumna, the ruler of the territory, saw Lord Jagannath in his dreams and following the Lord's wishes, as told to him in his dreams, he got the Jagannath Puri Temple constructed. Situated in the heart of the holy city, the temple is visited by devotees from farthest corners of India as well as the world. It exudes splendor and its tall spires lend it a magnificent aura. The walls are embellished with exquisite carving.  
Jagannath Temple, Puri
The pillars that provide support to the temple are adorned with pictures depicting the life of Lord Krishna. In the list of the most splendid monuments of Orissa, Jaganath temple occupies a supreme position. On of the most popular attractions of the Jagannatha Temple of Puri comprises of its Rath Yatra that is organized every year. It is basically a chariot festival, where idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra, the main deities of Srimandir, are taken to the Gundicha temple in bejeweled chariots and are brought back to the mandir in the same way.
The Puri temple is built on a gigantic raised platform in the heat of the city, The temple complex is enclosed by a wall about seven meters high - including the - including the 0 height of the platform. The area of this platform is more than 4,20,000 sq. ft. The wall is pierced by four gates, facing the four directions. On the east-facing gate, there are stone images of two lions and it is called the Lions Gate. The north, south and west facing gates are similarly known as Elephant Gate, the Horse Gate and the Tiger Gate (aslo called the Khanja Gate) respectively. The north gate is mainly meant for the God himself in as much as, the logs of wood out of which, the images are fabricated, make their entry into the temple premises through this gate, when the Navakelevara ceremoney takes place, The east-facing Lion Gate is the main gate. There are pyramidal structures over four gates which are not very old.
As we arrive at the vast open area in front of the Lions Gate (eastern gate), we see monolithic pillar about 10 meters high. This pillar is known locally as the Aruna Stambha. In Hindu mythology Aruna is the charioteer of the Sun-god, The world famous Konarka temple was designed in the form of a stupendous chariot and this monolithic pillar with the beautifully corved aruna  seated on its top was installed right in front of the porch of that temple. When the temple was abandoned and there was no presiding deity in it, this pillar was removed from Konarka to puri and was fixed in front of Jagannath temple where we see it now.
Immediately after we get into the main gate and proceed forward, we find ourselves on a flight of steps. Locally, they are called Baisi Pahaca, which literally means, twenty-two steps. The history or rather the mystery of this flights of steps has not been unveiled. It is interesting to note that great reverence is shown to this flight of twenty-two steeps. The parents bring their children & make them slowly roll over the steps from the top to the bottom ones in expectation of spiritual bliss in as much as countless devotees have walked on the steps which are believed to be throbbing with spiritual animation. 
As we cross the main entrance on the east and ascend the flight of steps leading to the main temple, we find on the left-hand side, a vast kitchen area of the temple. Some tourists rightly observe that on account of this kitchen, the Puri temple may be described as the biggest hotel of the world. It can feed even one lakh persons with only two to three hours notice. The method of preparation is most hygienic and the traditional process of preparation of food for so many people is so short a time, takes many by surprise. To the right, we have the Ananda Bajara which is the popular name of the food selling market within the enclosure. Ananda bajara literallly means, the pleasure market.

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