Jagannath Temple

The Shree Jagannath Temple of Puri is an important Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath, a form of lord Vishnu, located on the eastern coast of India, at Puri in the state of Odisha. The temple is an important pilgrimage destination and one of the four great 'Char Dham' pilgrimage sites, found at India's four cardinal points. The present temple was rebuilt from the 10th century onwards, on the site of an earlier temple, and begun by King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva, first of the Eastern Ganga dynasty.

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. These gave their name to the English term Juggernaut. 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 nineteen years by an exact replica.

The temple is sacred to all Hindus and especially in those of the Vaishnava traditions. Many great saints, such as Ramananda & Ramanuja were closely associated with the temple. Ramanuja established the Emar Mutt near the temple and the Govardhan Mutt, which is the seat of one of the four Shankaracharyas. It is also of particular significance to the followers of the Gaudiya Vaishnavism whose founder Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, was attracted to the deity, Jagannath, and lived in Puri for many years.

The God Mahaprabhu Jagannath, Badathakura Balabhadra and the Devi Subhadra constitute the main trinity of deities worshiped at the temple. The temple iconography depicts these three Gods sitting on the bejewelled platform or the Ratnabedi in the inner sanctum. The Sudarshan Chakra, deities of Madanmohan, Sridevi and Vishwadhatri are also placed on the Ratnavedi. The temple icons of Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan Chakra are made from sacred Neem logs known as Daru. Depending on the season the deities are adorned in different garbs and jewels. Worship of these deities pre-date the temple structure.

Rath yatra is the most famous festival of Jagannath Temple. Besides this a lot of festivals are being celebrated in Jagannath Temple, Puri, such as Chandan Yatra, Snana Yatra, Anasara, Niladri Bije, Gupta Gundicha and Nabakalebara.

Nabakalebara is one of the most grandiloquent events with the Lord Jagannath. Nabakalebar takes place when one lunar month of Ashadha is followed by another lunar month of Ashadha. This can take place in 8, 12 or even 19 years. The festival is witnessed by as millions of people and the budget for this event exceeds $500,000. The Nabakalebara festival of 2015 was witnessed by around 3 million devotees, making it one of the most visited festivals in the world.

Lord Jagannath is the Purusottama, so Puri is also called as Purusottam Kshetra.

The Jagannath Temple Puri is situated 69 km from Bhubaneswar.

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