Puri is one of the most ancient cities in the eastern part of India, state Orissa and is one of the four holiest places for worship of the Hinduists. Its population is around 200 thousand people and is a beautiful sea resort on the shore of the Bay of Bengal.
Having a walk in the city, a person attains the sensation for a religious rite – everywhere smells in incense and in every house there is a small temple, which size and decoration depend on the resources of the owners of the home.
The Jagannath temple
The Jagannath temple (Lord of the Universe) is the main temple dedicated to god Jagannath or Krishna. It is one of the four places, which the Hinduists should visit during their life. Established in 11 century, it impresses and until now by its astounding architecture. The temple has a particular meaning for the followers of the Gaudiya-Vaishnavism, since the founder of this tradition Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, was loyal to Jagannath and spent the last 16 years of his life in Puri. Every summer in June-July the Main temple Jagannath organizes the gorgeous holiday „Festival of the chariots“ Ratha Yatra. It is important for the Indians, since it helps people to restore their relationships of love and devotion towards the Supreme god. The festival Rahta Yatra continues nine days. On the first day the temple deities Jagannath, his brother Baladevi and his sister Subhadri are carried out from the temple at the street in enormous splendidly decorated chariots, which are drawn by thousands of people. The procession directs towards the “Gundicha” temple, at 3 km from the main temple. The procession symbolizes the traveling of Krishna among the people. The procession is accompanied by music and mantras (monotonous singing). The three deities remain 7 days in the “Gundicha” temple.
The ”Gundicha“ temple, known as the garden of Jagannath, is located in the center of a beautiful garden, surrounded by walls with a complex configuration. Before the deities arrive, the temple is cleaned thoroughly. The sanctuary has at its disposal a lifted platform with height 12 m and length 5,8 m. The three deities are put here during the festival Ratha Yatra and are changed in new clothes every day from their stay. The Gundicha temple has at its disposal two gates – western for entering of the gods and eastern – for departure of the deities. During the 9-day Ratha Yatra the entering of foreigners in the main temple Jagannath is forbidden, but the Gundicha temple may be visited against an entrance fee.
The Lokanat temple from 11 century is located near the Jagannath temple and is dedicated to the goddess Shiva. The unique peculiarity of this temple is that the bigger part of it is in the water. The worshippers believe that if they pray in this temple, they shall cure themselves.
The temple of the Sun, which is located in the small town Konark at 34 km from Puri is with exceptional architecture – sculptured blocks. It was built in 13 century as a giant chariot of the sun God Surya with twelve couples ornamented wheels, drawn by seven stone horses. Some of the wheels are with width 3 m. Only 6 of the 7 horses are preserved until today. Fallen apart in 17 century, the temple has been restored partially again. In the days of its greatness, the statue of the God of the Sun remained in the air with the help of an enormous magnet on the top of the statue, and another one in the basement. There used to be a diamond in the center of the sculpture, which reflected the sun beams and the atmosphere became divine and enigmatic. But what has remained in the Temple of the Sun is also impressive. Konark is visited by many tourists. The airport of the capital Bhubaneshvar of the state Orissa is at 64 km from Konark.
At 15 km from city of Puri is located the craftsman’s settlement Raghurajpur, where can be reached by a bicycle on rent or by a bus. There are 120 brick houses in Raghurajpur, in which are situated workshops of the artists, who elaborate traditional paintings and souvenirs of Orissa. Here are drawn the interesting paintings pattachitra, engravings on palm leaves are elaborated, toys and souvenirs out of а coco-nut, jute and wood. The polite hosts show with desire the whole technology of elaboration of the paintings Pattachitra. The most ancient such paintings date from 12 century. On the representations of the paintings Pattachitra may be seen scenes from the life of God Krishna and other honoured gods in India. For Pattachitra are used traditional natural materials – glue, coals, soot, organic pigments, Crustacea, Mollusca and etc. The Pattachitra painting is drawn at several stages. Firstly, the cotton fabric is processed with resin, then it is primed with chalk, after this is put mash of resin and tamarind – seeds, finally it is polished in order to be obtained a smooth surface. Afterwards it is proceeded to the drawing after a pattern with black ink. The colouring of the painting is in characteristic colours – Krishna in blue, Baladev in white, Radha and Sudhara are green, Rama is yellow. Finally the completed painting is covered by a protective compound. The price of one painting Pattachitra depends on the size and the line and it varies from 50 up to 150 dollars.
City of Puri is also famous for the long beach strip, covered with golden sand. For the lovers of fishing, some of the local fishermen offer a row inside the bay, where they throw their nets. The sunrises and sunsets of the sun here are something phenomenal, therefore there are certain places along the beach, where they can be observed.