Whenever I used to get time from work at the capital city of Odisha, Bhubaneswar, I would make a conscious effort to visit the nearby town, Puri where the famous temple of Lord Krishna also known as Jagganath, is located. It’s believed by Hindu’s that once in a life time, one has to visit this temple. I find this temple, full of positive energy and spiritually very uplifting. Sitting in the vaulted hall in front of Lord Jagganath and chanting mantra has been one of my most exquisite and peaceful times. So below is the account of one such journey today, as its one of special days of my life and soak once again in the positivity of this holy place.
|Main deities - Balbhadra, Subhadra and Lord Krishna|
Image source Wikipedia
But before the journey, let me give you a brief introduction on the History and back ground of the temple.
The Jagannath Temple in Puri is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Jagannath (Vishnu) and located in the coastal town of Puri in the state of Odisha. The name Jagannath (Lord of the Universe) is a combination of the Sanskrit words Jagat (Universe) andNath (Lord of). The temple is an important pilgrimage destination for many Hindu traditions, particularly worshippers of Krishna and Vishnu, and part of the Char Dham pilgrimages that a Hindu has to be visited in one's lifetime.
|The big wheels of the Chariot, on which Krishna travels to the temple|
3KM's down the road, pulled by thousands of devotees
The temple is famous for its annual Rath Yatra, or chariot festival, in which the three main temple deities are hauled on huge and elaborately decorated chariots. Since medieval times, it is also associated with intense religious fervour.
The Jagamohana and the Vimana portions of the temple were built during his reign (1078 - 1148 CE). However it was only in the year 1174 CE that the Odia ruler Ananga Bhima Deva rebuilt the temple to give a shape in which it stands today.
It was hard for me to wake up early in the morning as the night before, me and my team had a party and could come back to my hotel room only in the late hours, yet the call from Krishna was more powerful than sleep. So by the time my driver reach hotel lobby, I was up and ready for the journey. As we sped along the highway, the sun was breaking out of early morning clouds ...
The journey of almost 50 Kilometers to the town of Puri from Bhubaneswar is a beautiful drive... the river that skirts the town, was softly flowing out in the day. I have always enjoyed being near the river or the sea as it gives me a lot of energy... any water body for that matter is full of positivity and peace.
As this was month of Shravan, when most of the devotees of Lord Shiva take long journey’s from their villages to take pots of Holy ganges water to bathe lord Shiva to cool Him from the heat of Poison that according to the Veda’s and Purana’s, Lord Shiva has taken, when it came out of the great churning of the sea, to save the mankind. So there were long lines of devotees (in north India, they are known as Kanwar’s) carrying pots of Holy water hung from their bamboo sticks...
To take care of these devotees, the local people on the way arrange for food shelter and general upkeep of the devotees. As its a ritual where the holy water that they are carrying should not be kept on the ground, hence a temporary stand is made like this one...
On the way, there are many road side temples and this one of Lord Krishna – locally known as Thakur ji is bang on the road and its believed by almost all the drivers on this way, that any vehicle that passes by has to take the blessings of thakur Ji for a smooth journey. So at this juncture, almost all the vehicles stop and blessings are taken... and in turn creates a welcome bottle neck so that even the people inside the vehicles can pay their respects and take blessings from far.
By the time I reached the town of Puri, it was full of light and the path to the temple full of people, devotees, Sadhu’s and beggars alike. The road was, as usual, dotted by livestock and animals, who were in no hurry to reach anywhere.
The temple itself was towering above all this and architecturally most beautiful. Among the existing temples in Odisha, the temple of Shri Jagannath is the highest. The huge temple complex covers an area of over 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2), and is surrounded by a high fortified wall. It contains at least 120 temples and shrines. With its sculptural richness and fluidity of the Odia style of temple architecture, it is one of the most magnificent monuments of India. The main temple is a curvilinear temple and crowning the top is the 'srichakra' (a eight spoked wheel) of Vishnu. Also known as the "Nilachakra", it is made out of Ashtadhatu and is considered sacrosanct. The temple tower was built on a raised platform of stone and, rising to 214 feet (65 m) above the inner sanctum where the deities reside, dominates the surrounding landscape.
On the periphery there are many more smaller temples with the main deity’s image like this. I have had taken this picture to give you the simple yet beautiful concept of the artisans who made these wooden figure of Lord Krishna, Subhadra and Balabhadra, as I was not allowed to take my camera, even the mobile phone, as usual, inside the temple
As I left the temple premises after my hour long meditation and chanting, I felt peaceful and calm. As I looked back, the sun was up and shining besides the temple tower...
Soon I left for one of the most beautiful beaches in India, the beach of puri, that is almost 3 KM’s away from the temple. It’s interesting to note that this is one of the beaches, so geographically located that one can actually see the sunset as well as sun rise over the sea....
Below is one of the legends about the origin of the temple...
The traditional story concerning the origins of the temple is that here the original image of Jagannath (a deity form of Vishnu) at the end of Krita yuga manifested near a banyan tree, near seashore in the form of an Indranila nilamani or the Blue Jewel. It was so dazzling that it could grant instant moksha, so the god Dharma or Yama wanted to hide it in the earth, and was successful. In Dvapara Yuga King Indradyumna of Malwa wanted to find that mysterious image and to do so he performed harsh penances to obtain his goal. Vishnu then instructed him to go to the Puri seashore and find a floating log to make an image from its trunk.
|Gundicha Temple or the Garden House of Lord Jagannath|
The King found the log of wood. He did a magnum yajna from which god Yajna Nrisimha appeared and instructed that Narayana should be made as fourfold expansion, i.e. Paramatma as Vasudeva, his Vyuha as Samkarshana, Yogamaya as Subhadra, and his Vibhava as Sudarsana. Vishwakarma appeared in the form of artist and prepared images of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra from the tree.
Part of the Text Source: Wikipedia
Hope you have enjoyed this journey with me and feel the same spiritual energy that I always enjoy when I look at these pictures.... May you all be blessed for reading this and being with me on this journey again...
To see my Impressions from this journey, please visit the STILL LIFE: On the way to Puri...
ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
STILL LIFE : On the way to Puri