Shri Jagannath Temple

The temple of Lord Shree Jagannath at Puri is one of the oldest temples of the Hindus; well known all over the world. It is situated on the sacred Mahodadhi (presently known as Bay of Bengal) at latitude 19-19’-17’N and longitude 85-51-’-39’E. The sacred shrine is one of the four Dhamas (Holiest of the holy place) – Puri, Dwarika, Badrinath and Rameswar – in India. A vibrant and living temple, it occupies a special place in the religious and cultural history of the State of Odisha. Over the centuries, it has attracted many kings, conquerors, religious teachers, devotees and pilgrims.

According to ‘Skanda Purana’ the sacred ‘Shree Purushottama Kshetra’ is known as the home of Lord Vishnu and the sacred Vigrahas were installed by Swayambhu Brahma. As per Puranic scripture, King Indradyumna of Malwa, (Central India) a staunch Vaishnavite, constructed a huge temple and installed the four deities with the help of Brahma and other famous saints. It was 1000 cubits high. But the temple collapsed in course of time. It was the foremost temple of Lord Shree Jagannatha. History is silent about the subsequent reforms taken up by the kings in the temple that was originally built by King Indradyumna of Satya yuga.

However, descriptions have been made in the Patala Khanda of Padma Purana and Vishnu Purana about the existence of the temple of Bhagawan Purushottama in the said ancient sacred place. It may be mentioned here that, according to ‘Madala Panji’, it was Yajati Keshari the founder of the Soma Dynasty in Odisha, who built the temple for Purushottama Jagannatha on the site of the present shrine.

The present main temple has four sections, such as Vimana (Sanctum) where in the principal deities are seated on a stone pedestal (known as Ratna Singhashana), Jagamohana (porch), Natamandapa and Bhogamandapa. The temple when originally constructed consisted of a Vimana and a Jagamohana (porch) built in the rekha style and the pidha orders respectively. It is known that the Vimana and the Jagamohana were built in the 12th century, while Natamandapa and Bhogamandapa were added during the reign of King Purushottama Deva (1461-1495 AD.) and King Prataprudra Deva (1495-1532 AD.) respectively. However, at present, the temple complex of Lord Shree Jagannatha consists of four structures in one axial alignment and faces the east.

The entire temple premises are enclosed by two big concentric walls. The outer wall is known as ‘Meghanada Prachira’ (665 ft. x 640 ft.) and the inner wall is known as ‘Kurma Prachira’ (420 ft. x 315ft.). The height of the outer walls varies from 20ft. to 24ft. There are four gates in the outer enclosure. The eastern entrance is known as ‘Singha Dwara’ or the Lion’s gate. The entrances on the southern, western and northern sides of the outer enclosure are known as ‘Aswadwara’ (South gate), ‘Vyaghra Dwara’ (West gate) and ‘Hastidwara’ (North gate) respectively. Hundreds of subsidiary shrines and Mandapas (elevated platforms) are there inside the temple premises. Two gardens namely ‘Koili Baikuntha’ and ‘Nilachala Upabana’, seven wells, Ananda Bazaar, the Kitchen and the Holy banyan tree (Kalpabata) are also there inside temple premises.