Jagannath Temple- One of the four Char Dham Pilgrimage

Jagannath temple

The Jagannath Temple at Puri is one of the oldest Hindu temples to still be in use.  Anantavarman of the Chodaganga dynasty built the main shrine of this temple in the tenth century. The Deities within the shrine are far older and are associated with the satya yuga ruler King Indrayumna. King Indrayumna was the nephew of lord Ram. 

Rameshwaram- One of the four pilgrimage sites

The Puri temple is famous for its annual Ratha Yatra, or chariot festival, in which the three principal deities are pulled on huge and elaborately decorated temple cars. Unlike the stone and metal icons found in most Hindu temples, the image of Jagannath is made of wood and is ceremoniously replaced every twelve or 19 years by an exact replica. It is one of the Char Dham pilgrimage sites.

Origin of Jagannath Temple

Jagannath Temple

A legend says that Indradyumna was a king who worshiped Lord Vishnu very much. Once the king was informed that Lord Vishnu had come in the form of Nila Madhava so the king sent a priest named Vidyapati to search for him. While traveling, Vidyapati reached a place where Sabaras were residing. Vishvavasu was the local chief who invited Vidyapati to live with him.

Vishvavasu had a daughter named Lalita and Vidyapati married her after sometime. Vidyapati noticed that when his father-in-law returned, his body had a good smell of sandalwood, camphor, and musk. On asking his wife, she told him about the worship of Nila Madhava by her father. 

Vidyapati asked his father-in-law to take him to Nila Madhava. Visvavasu blindfolded him and took him to the cave. Vidyapati took with him seeds of mustard which he dropped on the way so as to remember the route to the cave.

Vidyapati informed the king so he came to the place but, to his disappointment, the deity disappeared. In order to see the deity, he observed fast unto death on Mount Neela. Once he heard a voice saying that he will see the deity so he built a temple and Narada installed the idol of Sri Narsimha in the temple.

One night he slept and saw Lord Jagannath in his dream. He also heard a voice telling him about a fragrant tree and ordered him to make idols from it. So the king made the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra. Along with it, he also made the Sudarshan Chakra.

Then the king prayed to Lord Brahma to visit the temple and the deities. Lord Brahma was very pleased when he saw the temple and asked about a desire which he can fulfill. The king asked that there shall be no issues in his life and he should be the last one from his family. He also asked that if anybody is left in his family, then he should work for the temple and not the society.

About the Temple

Jagannath Temple archietecture

The huge temple complex covers an area of over 400,000 square feet, and is surrounded by a high fortified wall. This 20 feet high wall is known as Meghanada Pacheri. Another wall known as kurma bedha surrounds the main temple. It contains at least 120 temples and shrines. With its sculptural richness and fluidity of the Oriya style of temple architecture, it is one of the most magnificent monuments of India. The temple has four distinct sectional structures, namely –

  1. Deula, Vimana or Garba griha.
  2. Mukhashala 
  3. Nata mandir/Nata Mandapa, which is also known as the Jagamoha
  4. Bhoga Mandapa

The main temple is a curvilinear temple and crowning the top is the ‘Nilachakra’ of Lord Vishnu. It is made out of Ashtadhatu and is considered sacrosanct. Among the existing temples in Orissa, the temple of Shri Jagannath is the highest. The temple tower was built on a raised platform of stone and, rising to 65 m above the inner sanctum where the deities reside, dominates the surrounding landscape. The pyramidal roofs of the surrounding temples and adjoining halls, or mandapas, rise in steps toward the tower like a ridge of mountain peaks.

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