Bhubaneswar is the capital city of the state of Orissa which is located on the eastern coast of India. It was once the capital of ancient Kalinga before it grew into the modern city it is today and it became state capital in 1948 after India gained independence from Britain.
It is said that there were about 7,000 temples in Bhubaneswar which earned it the coveted title of the 'Temple City of India' although only a few hundred of these remain today. The temples are all located 2-3km south of the modern city centre and are fairly spread out so it's a good idea to hire an auto-rickshaw in order to tour around them. They date from the 7th to the 13th centuries, a period which saw the waning of Buddhism and a revival of Hinduism under the successive dynasties that ruled Orissa. The main temples include the large Lingaraj Temple which is a complex that contains the main temple as well as some 150 smaller temples and shrines but is, unfortunately out of bounds to non-Hindu's. Most of the other temples worth visiting are located to the east of the Lingaraj Temple. These include the Parasurameswar Temple, (the oldest), the Mukteswar Temple with a wonderful arched torana (gateway), the Raja Rani Mandir which is very ornate and the Brahmeswar Mandir. There are also some 1st century BC caves worth visiting that are located 8km west of the city centre.
The most important sanctuary of Jagannath is the Gundicha temple, the abode to which Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are driven each of his or her wooden chariots once in a year, during the Rath Yatra Festival in June/July. Except for these few days it is unoccupied, but there is a small establishment of servants by whom it is regularly maintained. It is situated at the other end of the Grand Road. The temple is surrounded by a wall and stands in the middle of a garden and consists of four parts connected with kitchens by a narrow passage. The tower, a construction of the Pidha type, is 75 feet high with a base of 55 feet by 46 feet outside and 36 feet 8inches by 27 feet inside. All the four structures (Vimana, Jagamohan, Natamandap, and Bhogamandap) bear the traces of several plastering and are carved in places with obscene figures in mortar. There is a plain raised seat, 4 feet high and 19 feet long, made of chlorite, and this is called the Ratnavedi - the throne on which the images are placed when brought to the temple. Again only Hindu's are allowed to visit.
Grand Road is just that. It's a wide long road that links the Jagannath Temple in the west with the Gundicha Temple in the east. It is where the town's main markets, shops and businesses are located and makes for a good walk (over 1km) between the two temples to see the daily comings and goings-on in Puri. Grand Road is used for the chariot festival of Rath Yatra when three huge 'cars' known as ratha are used to carry the diety's of Jagannath, Balbhadra and Subhadra. The 'cars' are pulled along by 4,000 temple employees which probably explains why Grand Road is so wide.
This large temple complex is dedicated to Jagannath, Lord of the Universe and incarnation of Vishnu whose deity image is depicted as being jet-black with large, white eyes. The 58m-high temple was built in 1198 by King Anantavarman of the Eastern Ganga dynasty and is surrounded by a 6m (20ft) high wall with it's main entrance gate being guarded by a pair of stone lions and a pillar crowned by the Garuda that one stood at the Sun Temple at Konark until the 18th century. It is similar in design to the Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar with three smaller shrines adjoining its tall sanctuary tower.
A unique cult of followers has grown-up in and around Orissa and the temple is the main temple for pilgrims to worship at especially during the chariot festival of Rath Yatra in June/July. Some 6,000 resident priests perform the elaborate daily rituals of bathing, dressing and worshipping the image of Jagannath, together with his brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra. Five daily meals are offered to the three deity's which are prepared by some 400 temple cooks who work in the kitchens that you can see to the left of the main temple with steam rising out of vents. This kitchen is reportedly the largest in the world. Unfortunately, the temple is only open to Hindu's but you can get a good view of the complex from an open veranda up some stairs in the Raghumandan Library that is located opposite the main entrance on Grand Road. More photo's can be found in one of my travelogues.
The fishing village is located at the eastern end of Puri beach and is literally right on the beach behind where some of the boats are stationed on the sand. The village consists of a mixture of permanent brick building with straw roofs and basic straw huts. It's not the most pleasant area to wander around in as the beach is used as a toliet with piles of human waste dotted everywhere. These people are pretty poor, surviving with just the basics in order to live. Naked children run around whilst their parents either fish or sell the daily catch.
The fishing boats here come in different shapes and sizes. Some of the first I came across as I walked along the beach towards the fishing village looked almost like canoes as they were long, narrow and shallow. Some of the larger ones needs a small army to carry up the beach out of the water as there's no jetty here. These are un-powered but have sails.
Puri beach is a wide, sandy beach and is quite long, wide and clean (except at the fishing village), extending for miles and has been a favourite haunt for tourists for many years. There's no shade here so watch yourself in the sun. It's a nice place to simply go for a stroll to pass the time as there's not much to do in the area. If this was in Europe or America then there'll be high-rise hotels, umpteen restaurants, cafes, bars and discos running along its entire length. But this is India and here a beach isn't seen with the same eyes as those in the west so bare this in mind if you want to sunbathe.
Please have a look at the pictures I have now taken last week in seriatim as wee took the help of a ASI guide to show us the temple. He took us on tour of temple in seriatim.
The day we left Puri we had immense fun at the Beach along with our office colleagues. It was great fun as most of the colleagues took bath together.