Puri


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January 10th 2012
Published: May 15th 2012
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Traditionally, people have been flocking to places of worship to pray individually,as a family or in a group to seek salvation from a higher order. And no where this is more evident than in India with its multitude where millions upon millions go on temple visits everyday.The enormous patience and self control that has been derived through the process of pilgrimage and the "Pray to God” that we have inculcated have stood us in good stead,over centuries



One such popular destination for pilgrimage in India has been the abode of Lord Jagannath in Puri, Orissa which we visited recently.



As they say, bigger the legend greater is the following; so it is here. Legend has it that Vishnu appeared in the dreams of pious King Indradyumna, millennia ago, and directed him to a special wooden Log by the sea shore, which was later carved into a Deity by no less than the celestial architect Vishwakarma and Lord Jagannath was established.


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Sri Mandap</td></tr></tbody></table>

The present temple structure was built in the 12th century with its impressive Sri Mandir, the Nata mandap (dancing hall), and the Bhoga mandap, the very large kitchen employing 500 cooks to prepare the Mahaprasad which is offered to the deity 6 times a day.



Within the huge compound and its four large gates, lies one hundred shrines committed to the demigods in charge of universal affairs.



In Sri Mandir, a five foot tall Lord Jagannath rests on a ratna singhasan and to his right are Subhadra and Balarama. The deity’s eyes are large and round, his complexion black and his nature is all-merciful to his devotees.We had a good darshan without much waiting,thanks to our arrangement with the Panda who took very good care and answered all our queries.
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This is only a representation</td></tr></tbody></table>


We have all heard about the famous Ratha yatra that is held every year in the month of July.There is a profound spiritual meaning behind the Ratha yatra which the great sages and devotees of Jagannath have described thus:



“ The worship of Jagannath is generally conducted on a grand scale of awe and reverence wherein his devotees see and revere him as the Supreme God. This mood of awe and reverence, however, is not as pleasing to Jagannath as the mood of spontaneous love of God exhibited by his most confidential devotees… the gopis of Vrindavan. Jagannath at times remembers the intimate affairs between himself and the gopis, and he is overwhelmed with feelings of separation and desires to return to Vrindavan. He leaves the temple and mounts his chariot to go to Vrindavan and meet with the gopis. It is as though Jagannath sees the white stretch of sandy road in front of his chariot with beautiful gardens on both sides; he is reminded of the Yamuna River and the groves of Vrindavan where he sported with his gopis. His mind fills with pleasure at these thoughts and he smiles intensely.
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The Grand Ratha Yatra</td></tr></tbody></table>


Millions,and many of them foreigners from around the world congregate in Puri for the Yatra.It is only at this time can a foreigner catch a glimpse of the Deity as they are prohibited to visit his sanctum inside the temple complex.

















Another world famous heritage site we visited is Konarak which is 30 Kms from Puri,a drive of a little over 1 Hour.







Again, legend has it that the Original Sun Temple at Konark was built by Samba, the son of Krishna, as a token of gratitude to Sun God who cured him of Leprosy.
The present temple was built in the 13th century, in the sea,but the sea has since retreated and is now 5 km from the temple






I was captivated not only by the architectural grandeur but also by the intricacy and richness of the sculptures found here. The entire temple has been built as a Chariot of the Sun God with 24 wheels, each about 10 feet in diameter and having a set of spokes carved exquisitely.

Seven horses drag the chariot. Two lions guarding the entrance are crushing the elephants in battle. Each elephant in turn lies on top of a human body.

Great imagination!

The temple is indeed a classic and the only one of its kind. Following are the details of its construction as I have understood.It is believed that no limestone or cement was used to join the granite blocks of the temple structure. The huge granite blocks were separated by iron plates and held together by several small magnets.

Then there were two primary powerful magnets; one at the top of the temple and the other at the base. The idol of Sun God was kept suspended in the air by the field created by the magnets. The idol had a diamond which reflected the rays of the Sun, hence the name Kon-ark. Oh! it must have been such a wonderful sight to behold





The magnet at the top of the temple was the main force holding most of the temple structure. This was so powerful that it used to disrupt the magnetic compass of

the ships sailing,Konark being a major port at that time.



The Portuguese removed the lodestone, as it was the cause of the destruction of their ships. This led to the collapse of most of the temple structure. For fear of losing the Idols they were taken away and placed in the Puri temple and one of them still exists there. The present structure is filled with rocks and sand to prevent it from caving in..





One can spend hours examining and appreciating the intricate

art fashioned by the sculptors and craftsman of those years.



They lay in ruins after they were damaged and pillaged during the Muslim rule and Konark was a destitute till the 19th century until restored and given back to humanity to appreciate the value of this wondrous creation.







As a fitting finale we were treated to a fine exhibition of sand art by the locals at the sea beach nearby.We watched the beautiful sunset and returned to Puri.

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