King Indradyumna was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu and was eager to meet him face to face. Once a brahmana came to the palace of the King Indrayumna and told him about an incarnation of Lord Vishnu named Nila Madhava. The king then sent different brahmanas out to search for Lord Nila Madhava. They all returned unsuccessful except a priest named Vidyapati. After traveling for a while Vidyapati came to an area inhabited by non-Aryans called sabaras. He stayed at the house of a local chief, called Visvavasu. When he arrived Visvavasu was not there, but his daughter Lalita was. Vidyapati stayed there for some time and eventually married Lalita, the daughter of the Sabara.
Vidyapati noticed some peculiar behaviour of his host. Visvavasu would go out every day around noon and would return back to the house scented with fragrances of sandalwood, camphor and musk. Vidyapati asked his wife about this and she informed him that his father would go daily to worship Nila Madhava. Lalita had been told by her father not to tell anyone about Nila Madhava, but she had overstepped that order by telling her husband. Vidyapati repeatedly requested to see Nila Madhava. Finally Visvavasu bound Vidyapati's eyes and took him to see Nila Madhava. Vidyapati secretly carried some mustard seeds in his cloth and he dropped them onto the path as he was walking. When he reached Nila Madhava, the blind fold was removed and Vidyapati saw Nila Madhava. Visvavasu went out to collect some forest flowers to worship and Vidyapati stayed near the Deity. During this time a crow fell off the branch of a tree into a nearby lake and drowned. It immediately took a four armed Vaikuntha form and started back to the spiritual world. Vidyapati then climbed up onto the tree and was about to jump into the lake. A voice came from the sky and said "Since you have seen Nila Madhava, you should inform King Indradyumna."
Visvavasu returned and started his daily worship of Nila Madhava. Suddenly the Lord spoke to him and said, "I have accepted for many days the simple forest flowers and roots offered to me by you. Now I desire the royal worship offered to me in devotion by King Indradyumna." Visvavasu felt cheated by his son-in-law; therefore, he bound him up and kept in his house. After repeatedly being requested by his daughter he let him go.
The brahmana then went to King Indradyumna and told him about his discovery. By following the mustard seeds, which had grown into small plants, they were able to follow the path to Nila Madhava. When they reached the spot, they could not find him. King Indradyumna had the village besieged and arrested Visvavasu. Suddenly a voice came from the sky, “Release this sabara. On top of Nila hill you should construct a temple. There I will manifest as Daru-brahman (the Absolute Truth manifested in a wooden form). You will not see me as Nila Madhava.
The King constructed a temple. The King wanted Lord Brahma to consecrate the temple. So he travelled to Brahmaloka and waited there for him. During this time the temple became covered by sand. While he was gone, first Suradeva and then Galamadhava became king of the area. King Galamadhava uncovered the temple from the sand. Shortly afterwards, King Indradyumna return from Brahma's abode. Indradyumna claimed that he had built the temple and Galamadhava also claimed the same thing. There was an old crow in the nearby banyan tree who was constantly singing the glories of Lord Rama. The crow had seen the construction of the temple and said that Indradyumna had built the temple and that Galamadhava had just uncovered it. Because he had not told the truth Galamadhava was ordered by Brahma to live outside the temple compound on the western side of Indradyumna Sarovara Lake.
Indradyumna then asked Lord Brahma to consecrate the temple and the surrounding area, which was called Sri Kshetra and gives the highest type of liberation. Lord Brahma told him that Sri Kshetra is manifested by the Supreme Lord's internal potency and that the Supreme Lord manifests Himself. Therefore he could not install the Lord here, but Lord Jagannath and his abode are eternally situated in the material world. He said he would install the flag on the temple and that anyone who sees this flag and offers prostrated obeisance would easily be liberated.
After a while King Indradyumna became frustrated with not seeing Nila Madhava. He decided to lie on a bed of Kusa grass and to fast until death. Lord Jagannath came to him in a dream and told him I shall come floating from the sea in my wooden form as Daru-brahman at the place called Bakimuhan.
The King went to this place and saw a huge piece of wood which had the marks of a conch, club, disc and lotus on it. Many men and elephants tried to move Daru-brahman, but they could not move Him. That night Lord Jagannatha spoke to Indradyumna in a dream and told him to bring Visvavasu, who used to serve Nila Madhava and bring a golden chariot in front of Daru-brahman. The king did this and Daru-brahman easily was placed onto the chariot.
Lord Brahma then performed a sacrifice and established a Deity of Narasimhadeva on the raised platform of the sacrifice arena. It is said that the Deity of Narasimha in the present temple compound, which is on the western side of the Mukti-Mandapa, is the original Narasimha Deity.
King Indradyumna had the best sculptors come to carve the Deity of Lord Jagannath from Daru-brahman. As soon as they started their chisels broke to pieces. The Supreme Lord Himself came in Disguise as an old artist who called Himself Ananta Maharana (According to the Narada Purana, Visvakarma, the architect of the demigods carved the Deities by the desire of Lord Vishnu, who took the form of an old brahmana). He said that if he was able to work behind closed doors for 21 days then the deities could be carved. The old sculptor then took Daru-brahman into the temple and the doors were closed. After 14 days passed, the king could not hear any sounds of the artist's tools and he became fully anxious. The king then personally opened the door of the temple by force.
The King did not see the sculptor, but instead he saw the three forms of Lord Jagannath, Subhadra and Lord Balarama. Their fingers and toes were unfinished. Thinking himself a great offender the king decided to give up his life. He then lay on a bed of Kusa grass and began to fast. Lord Jagannath appeared to him in a dream. He told the king that He is eternally situated here in Nilachala in the form of Lord Jagannath as Daru-brahman. In the material world, I descended in 24 Deity incarnations along with my abode. I have no material hands and feet, but with my transcendental senses I accept all the items offered by My devotees. The fact that you broke your promise is part of the pastime for me to manifest in the form of Jagannath. Those devotees whose eyes are smeared with the salve of love will always see Me as Syamasundara, holding a flute.
The King prayed to Lord Jagannath that those in the family of the sculptor who manifested your form will continue to assist in constructing the three carts. He also told him that the descendants of Visvavasu, who served Me as Nila Madhava, should generations after generations serve Me. They shall be called as dayitas. The descendants of Vidyapati born from his brahmana wife should perform the Deity worship to me. The descendants born from his sabari wife, Lalita, should cook My food. They shall be known as suyaras.
King Indradyumna then requested Lord Jagannath, that the doors of the temple should be closed only 3 hours a day. The King also requested that he would not have any descendants, so that no one in the future would claim the temple of Lord Jagannath as their own property.
It is said in the Narada Purana (Uttara Khanda 52.123), that the Supreme Lord Narayana told Lakshmi Devi: "In that great abode known as Purushottama-kshetra, which is rarely achieved among all the three worlds, the Kesava Deity, who was fashioned by the Supreme Lord Himself is situated. If men simply see that Deity, they will be easily able to come to My abode."
In Skanda-Purana (Utkala-khanda) it is mentioned that this most beautiful Sri Kshetra is spread over 10 yojanas (128km or 80 miles) and surrounded by sands. Utkala is another name of Orissa. Utkala is described in scriptures as the most holy place on this planet. Utkala is divided into four parts which represent the weapons of Lord Vishnu. These four kshetras are known as Sankha-kshetra (Puri town), Padma-kshetra (Konark), Cakra-kshetra (Bhubaneswar) and Gada-kshetra(Jajapura, where the Viraja Devi temple is). Within this area of 10 yojanas, Puri is known as Sankha-kshetra because its shape resembles a conch shell. This Puri-kshetra covers an area of 5 krosa, 3 of which are immersed under the ocean, and 2 on land. This land is covered with golden sands and deChorated with a blue mountain. The Lord Himself in His arca-vigraha form is residing here on the bank of the ocean atop the blue mountain. Sankha-kshetra spreads from east to west. Its head is towards west where Lokanatha Mahadeva resides.
Puri-dhama is known by different names: Purushottama-kshetra, Sri Kshetra, Nilachala-dhama, Jagannatha-dhama, Yamanika-tirtha, Martya Vaikuntha, Nilagiri, Sankha-kshetra, Dasa-avatara-kshetra and Narasimha-kshetra. Glories of Sri Purushottama-kshetra Jagannatha Puri Dhama are mentioned in different Puranas: Skanda Purana, Brahma Purana, Vamadeva Samhita, Kapila Samhita, Padma Purana and Niladri Purana.
The name Jagannath literally means the Lord of the Universe. Puri is called Sri Purushottama Dhama, the abode of the Lord Vishnu on earth. Other names are Sri Kshetra, Nilachala-dhama, Jagannatha-dhama, Yamanika-tirtha, Martya Vaikuntha, Nilagiri, Shankha-kshetra, Dasha-avatara-kshetra and Narasimha-kshetra. Puri is about 2 km wide and 4 km long. The present temple was begun by King Chora Ganga deva and finised by his descendant Ananga Bhima Deva during 12th century. The temple complex comprises an area of 10.7 acres and is enclosed by 2 rectangular walls. The outer enclosure is called Meghanada Prachira. The walls are 20ft high. The inner wall is called Kurma bheda. The walls were built during 15th or 16th century.
This temple has the largest kitchen in the world, and feeds thousands of devotees daily. The kitchen can prepare food for 1,00,000 people on a festival day and 25,000 is not unusual on a normal day.
There are 36 traditional communities who render a specific hereditary service to the Deities. The temple has as many as 6000 priests. There is a wheel on the top of the Jagannath temple made of an alloy of 8 metals. It is called Nila-Chakra (blue wheel). Everyday a different flag is tied to a mast attached to the Nila-Chakra. Every Ekadashi a lamp is lit on the top of the temple near the wheel.
Thirty different smaller temples surround the main temple. The Lord Narasimha temple adjacent to western side of the Mukti-Mandapa, was constructed before the present temple. In front of the main gate is an 11 m pillar known as Aruna Sthambha. This pillar was once in front of the Sun Temple in Konark. It was bought to puri during 18th Century. The figure on the pillar is Aruna, the Sun god's charioteer.
In the passage room of this gate is a Deity of Lord Jagannath known as Patita Pavana (Savior of the Fallen). This deity is visible from the road, so non-Hindus may take His Darshan.
There are 4 gates:
The Eastern Simhadwara (Lion Gate).
The Southern Ashwadwara (House Gate).
The Western Vyaghradwara (The Tiger Gate).
The Northern Hastidwara (Elephant Gate).
There is a carving of each form by the entrance of each gate. The Lion gate, which is the main gate, is located on the Grand side of the road.
The main Deities in the temple are Lord Jagannath, His brother Lord Baladeva, and his sister Subhadra. Some of the other temples within the walls of the temple house Deities of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Lord Rama Chandra, Sakshi Gopal, Hanuman, Lord Narasimha, Lord Varaha and others.
There are elaborate daily worship services. There are many festivals each year attended by millions of people. The most important festival is the Rath Yatra or the Chariot festival in June. This spectacular festival includes a procession of three huge chariots bearing the idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra through the Bada Danda meaning the Grand Avenue of Puri till their final destination the Gundicha Temple.
Many festivals like Dol Yatra in spring and Jhulan Yatra in monsoon are celebrated by temple every year. Pavitrotsava and Damanaka utsava are celebrated as per panchanga or panjika.There are special ceremonies in the month of Kartika and Pausha.
The annual shodasha dinatmaka or 16 day puja beginning 8 days prior to Mahalaya of Ashwin month for goddess Vimala and ending on Vijayadashami, is of great importance, in which both the utsava murty of lord Madanmohan and Vimala take part.
Pana Sankranti: Also known or Vishuva Sankranti and Mesha Sankranti: Special rituals are performed at the temple..
In Akshaya Tritiya every year the Chandan Yatra festival marks the commencement of the construction of the Chariots of the Rath Yatra.
On the Purnima of the month of Jyestha the Gods are ceremonially bathed and decorated every year on the occasion of Snana Yatra.
Every year, the main idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra & Sudarshan after the holy Snana Yatra on the jyestha purnima, go to a secret altar named Anavasara Ghar where they remain for the next dark fortnight (Krishna paksha). Hence devotees are not allowed to view them. Instead of this devotees go to nearby place Brahmagiri to see their beloved lord in the form of four handed form Alarnath a form of Vishnu
Then people get the first glimpse of lord on the day before Rath Yatra, which is called 'Navayouvana. It is said that the gods fall in fever after taking a huge bath and they are treated by the special servants named, Daitapatis for 15 days. During this period cooked food is not offered to the deities.
In the Ratha Yatra, the three deities are taken from the Jagannath Temple in the chariots to the Gundicha Temple, where they stay for nine days. Thereafter, the deities again ride the chariots back to Shri Mandir in bahuda yatra. On the way back, the three chariots halt at the Mausi Maa Temple and the deities are offered Poda Pitha, a kind of baked cake which are generally consumed by the Odisha people only.
The observance of the Rath Yatra of Jagannath dates back to the period of the Puranas. Vivid descriptions of this festival are found in Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, and Skanda Purana. Kapila Samhita also refers to Rath Yatra. In Moghul period also, King Ramsingh of Jaipur, Rajasthan has been described as organizing the Rath Yatra in the 18th Century. In Orissa, Kings of Mayurbhanj and Parlakhemundi were organizing the Rath Yatra, though the most grand festival in terms of scale and popularity takes place at Puri.
Niladri Bije is the concluding day of Ratha yatra celevrated on Asadha Trayodashi. On this day deities return to the ratna bedi. Lord Jagannath offers Rasgulla to goddess Laxmi to enter in to the temple.
Gupta Gundicha is celebrated for 16 days from Ashwina Krushna dwitiya to Vijayadashami. As per tradition, the idol of Madhaba, along with the idol of Goddess Durga (known as Durgamadhaba), is taken on a tour of the temple premises. The tour within the temple is observed for the first eight days. For the next eight days, the idols are taken outside the temple on a palanquin to the nearby Narayani temple situated in the Dolamandapa lane. After their worship, they are brought back to the temple.
One of the most grandiloquent events associated with the Lord Jagannath, Naba Kalabera takes place when one lunar month of Ashadha is followed by another lunar month of Aashadha. This can take place in 8, 12 or even 18 years. Literally meaning the “New Body” (Nava = New, Kalevar = Body), the festival is witnessed by as millions of people and the budget for this event exceeds $500,000. The event involves installation of new images in the temple and burial of the old ones in the temple premises at Koili Vaikuntha. The idols that are currently being worshipped in the temple premises were installed in the year 2015.
State Capital Bhubaneswar is the nearest Airport otherwise known as "Biju Pattnaik Airport". The distance is 65 K.Ms from Puri and can be covered in an hour by car.
Indian Air lines operates flights from Delhi, Calcutta, Visakhapatna, Hyderabad, Raipur, Mumbai and Chennai.
Puri is well connected by Railways. Trains are from Kolkata (Howrah jn), New Delhi, Ahmedabad, etc. It is also a major railhead on the East Coast Railway, bifurcated from Khurda Road Jn. The Railway Station of Puri is in The heart of the town and near to all hotels. If you arrive by train go to the Odishan State Tourist counter at the station for advice, they are usually very helpful and speak English. The MCO Booth is also quite helpful. Locals speak Odiya. Due to the presence of people from various parts of India there would not be a language problem. Hindi is also widely used. Some locals even speak Bengali.
Only 60 Kms. away from Bhubaneswar by State Highway No-8,Puri has got a 35 Km Marine dr
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