The Puri city in the north-eastern state of Odisha in India host the famous and most important Hindu temple dedicated to the Lord Jagannath (the Lord of the Universe), a form of Lord Vishnu. This temple is one of the most important pilgrimage destinations and is also one of the four Dhams (Char Dham-four centers) of the important pilgrimage sites. The other centers are Badrinath, Dwarka and Rameshwaram which are regarded as highly sacred places by Hindus. Lord Jagannath, Balbhadra and the Goddess Subhadra are the main deities in the temple. According to the information available, it is said that the construction of the temple was initiated by the rulers of Kalinga, Anantvarma Chodaganga and some portions of the temple were built during 1078-1148 CE. The present day form of the temple is however credited to the Oriya ruler Ananga Bhima Deva who rebuilt the temple in 1174 CE.
Hindus believe that one should visit the Puri Jagannath Temple after visiting all the other three Dhams, Badrinath, Dwarka and Rameshwaram.
The world famous Car Festival, popularly known as Ratha Yatra (chariot festival) of Lord Jagannath is held every year here on the second day of Ashada Shukla Paksha-Dwitiya (second day of bright moon night), which usually falls in the month of June-July. On this day, the three deities of Jagannath, Balbhadra and the Goddess Subhadra are taken out of the temple and placed on their respective chariots to travel to Shri Gundicha Temple situated at a distance of 3 km accompanied by massive congregation of devotees. The chariots are huge wheeled wooden structures, built every year new and beautifully decorated for the celebration. The chariots are pulled by the devotees during the festival. The chariot of Lord Jagannath is approximately 45 feet high and 35 feet square.
Thousands of devotees including foreign travelers visit the temple throughout the year which is at the all time peak during the Rath Yatra festival celebrations. Another attraction at Puri is its magnificent beaches which also host the sand art festival, a competition of sand art every year.
There are certain amazing facts about the Jagannath Temple which defy common sense logic and leave us spellbound. Here are some of these amazing facts:
- The most puzzling fact observed is that the flag hoisted at the top of the temple dome always flaps in the opposite direction of the wind flow. Normally everywhere, the temple are the other flags are seen to wave in the same direction as that of the wind but here the case is reverse. Nobody could explain this phenomenon.
- It has been seen in the coastal areas that the breeze blows from the sea side to the land during the day time and this gets revered in the night. However, in Puri the breeze blows towards the sea during the day and during nights it gets reversed.
- The Sudarshan Chakra mounted on the top of the temple is about 20 feet high and it weighs approximately a ton. It is so mounted on the top of the temple that it makes one feel as it is facing him/her from every corner of the city irrespective of the place he/she is. The technique behind this fact is intriguing and nobody could explain the science behind it.
- It is baffling that no birds, planes are seen flying above the temple. Nobody could give any scientific explanation to this phenomenon.
- The temple has another engineering marvel. The construction of the temple is such that the shadow of the main dome of the temple cannot be seen anywhere at any given point of the time.
- The Prasadam, the food in the temple does not go waste or fall short. Around 2000 to 20,00,000 devotees visit the temple everyday depending upon the period but the quantity of the Prasadam cooked in the temple is always exactly sufficient for the devotees throughout the whole years . It is intriguing that the food never falls insufficient or gets wasted.
- The Prasadama is cooked in pots using the firewood and exactly seven pots are placed on the top of each other for cooking. The scientific logic says that the food in the bottom most pot should get cooked first as the firewood heat reaches it first. However, the case is reverse. The food in the top most pot is cooked first and the reverse order follows. It totally defies the scientific logic.
- There is the Bengal Ocean near the temple and around the temple one can clearly hear the sound of the ocean tides and waves. However, when one enters the Simhadwaram, the main entrance door of the temple, he/she can hear the sound of ocean. However, once you enter the temple and take a turn and walk back in the same direction as you came in, you will notice that you cannot hear the sound of ocean till you come out of the temple door.
- The annual chariot festival, the Ratha Yatra is carried out in two sets of chariots (three chariots in each set). There is a river flowing in between the Jagannath Temple and the Mausi Maa Temple on the way. The first sets of chariots are used to carry the deities up to the river. Then the deities are ferried across the river using three separate boats. After reaching the other bank of the river, the second set of chariots is used to carry the deities to the Mausi Maa Temple.
Readers may read my other blog about the amazing sand art man of Puri at URL: