Puri as the name suggests is known to be one of the most popular and famous gateways not only for the Bengalis but also for the rest of the religious people. Located on the coasts of Bay of Bengal, Puri has been an important spiritual center for centuries. Puri attracts numerous tourists round the year for its enormous beauty, spiritual salvation with fun and adventure of wide sea beach along with many old shrines and Matha’s (Ashram’s) each having its own little story which weaves itself in the larger canvas attached with Lord Jagannath. Puri is mainly popular for the temple of Lord Jagannath which is one of the four Char Dhams located in India. Puri, with its languorous seafront and religious atmospherics, is an ideal gateway. The Jagganath temple is a world renowned pilgrimage hot spot not only among the Bengalis but also of other castes which was constructed in the year 1198 by King Angabhimdev. One of the primary and popular attractions of Puri is the ‘Rath Yatra’ and during this time a wide number of tourists come here to witness this age-old tradition. While seeking the blessings of Lord Jagganth Dev, tourists also enjoy the beauty of the famous sea beach at Puri. The Puri sea beach is a half-moon shaped beach with blue colour water of the Bay of Bengal. Puri is considered as an ancient settlement lies on the coasts of Bay of Bengal which also offers stunning views of both the sunrise and the sunset at the backdrop of the sea. Though in Puranic texts, Puri is referred to by many names such as Nilachal, Nilagiri, Niladri and Purushottama, but the current name, of unclear etymology, appears to be of recent origin. Puri is considered to be Orissa’s summer capital lies directly south of Bhubaneshwar and south- west of Konark, on the coasts of the Bay of Bengal. Puri’s antiquity is not clearly established. The earliest mention comes from an inscription from Maihar, in Satara District of Madhya Pradesh, dated 10 CE.  All around Puri there are several temples, villages and other local watchable places which are worth visiting. Tourists can opt to hire local transports to visit these places. Or one can also opt to avail tour programs which are arranged by Orissa Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC). The office of Orissa Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) is located at Swargadwar. The Sea Beach is the main attraction of tourists in the evening that gets crowded with make-shift stalls selling numerous items along with foods and snacks. The Puri sea beach is an ideal spot to spend the leisure evening on the coast of Bay of Bengal.

Local watchable:

Golden Sea Beach: The pilgrim town of Puri is popular for its golden beaches that form the eastern boundary. The Golden Sea Beach is spread over a length of 870 meter long and is located around 02 km away from Puri railway station. The Golden Beach is the main sea beach of Puri that connects Swargadwar with that of New Marine Drive road. The Puri sea beach or the Golden Beach is a site that hosts the Annual Puri Beach Festival which is sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism (India) and is also the center of Sand Art displays including works by eminent local and international artists.

Sri Jagannath Temple: The great temple is the city’s navel, where all its spiritual energy is concentrated. Situated at the end of the arterial Grand Road, also known simply as Badadanda, the temple sits on the Nilagiri, or the Blur Hill. The 214 feet 965 meter) high temple of Lord Jagannatha is awesome and stunning. It is also the tallest in Odisha. The construction of this temple was begun by King Chodagangadeva around the 12th century, it was completed by his descendant Anangabhima Deva II. The carvings on the outer walls of the main temple are brilliantly executed. There are four gates leading into the temple. Most visitors enter through eastern gate, called Simhadwar or Lion’s Gate, as it abuts the Badadanda. It is so named because of two massive crouched lions in stone, guarding either side of the gate. The southern gate known as Ashwa Dwara (Horse Gate), the western gate called the Vyaghra Dwara (Tigers Gate) or the Khanja Gate, and the northern gate called the Hathi Dwara or (elephant gate). These four gates symbolize the four fundamental principles of Dharma (right conduct), Jnana (knowledge), Vairagya (renunciation) and Aishwarya (prosperity). Just before the gate stands a 35 foot tall pillar called Arunasthambh which was brought here from Konark and has some exquisite carvings. From the gate a flight of 22 steps leads to the inner compound of the temple where the main shrine is placed. The Jagganth temple at Puri consists of small temples like Bimal, Natmandir, Jagmohan, Bhogmandir which resemble each other.

Gundicha Temple: At the other end of the Grand Road is the birthplace of Lord Jagannatha. This is where the Brahmadaru or Sacred Log was fashioned into three deities – Lord Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra. During the Rath Yatra, the deities remain in Gundicha Temple for seven days, where Lord Jagannatha is offered a delicacy known as ‘Poda- Pitha’ (fire baked cake). Also known as Masi Ma’s or aunt’s house, it’s architecturally prosaic. It lies at a distance of about 3 km to the northeast of the Jagannath Temple. The architectural style of Gundicha exemplifies typical Kalinga style architecture.

Atharnala Bridge: Situated at the entrance to the city, this engineering feat was built in the 13th century. The 88 meter long bridge stretches over 18 spans, ranging from 07 to 16 feet across. It’s built of laterite and sandstone. It is also regarded as one of the sacred spots where pilgrims, on their entry to the town first extend their pranam (paying respect, with folded hands) to the bridge and the temple.

Swargadwar: The center or the heart of Puri named as ‘Swargadwar’ is located around 03 km from bus stand and 02 km away from Puri railway station. On the seashore to the south of the temple, Swargadwar (Gateway to Heaven) is the sacred spot where a dip in the sea is said to open the doors to heaven. It is said that the Brahmadaru, from which the three main deities at the temple are carved, had floated to the beach of Swargadwar. And it is here that Sri Chaityanya Mahaprabhu merged into the sea and into the Brahma. Swargadwar resonates with many associations. But it resonated doubly with the cacophony of Bengali families moving from one meal to another. The sea is rough on the East Coast so it’s best to inquire about the tides before one go for a dip. The view of morning sunrise at Swargadwar is an experience worth remembering.

Puri LighthousePuri Lighthouse is an important tourist’s spot in Puri located on the New Marine Drive Road. This is a revolving lighthouse which opens for visitors in the evening from 04.00 pm to 05.00 pm. The Puri Lighthouse offers panoramic views of the sea and the entire city of Puri as well. In order to reach the top of this lighthouse tourists are required to pay a nominal entry fee. A visit to the Puri lighthouse in the evening offers a stunning view of the sunset. The Puri lighthouse is located around 02 km away from Swargadwar and nearby the lighthouse there is also a children’s park. The lighthouse at Puri sends a light beam directly to the sea which acts as a direction for the ships on the sea.

Markandeshwara Temple: Markandeshwara Temple at Puri is located on the north of Lord Jagannath Temple on Markandeshwara Road. Markandeshwara Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and the temple is situated on the place where saint Markendeya meditated on Lord Shiva. Nearby to Markandeshwara Temple there lies Markandeshwar Tank which is an open structure enclosed with laterite stone walls. Both Markandeshwarar Temple and Markandeshwar Tank can date back to 12th century AD.

Narendra Tank: Narendra Tank is considered to be the one of the largest tanks in Orissa located around 02 km away from the temple of Lord Jagannath Temple and is situated on the left side of Grand Road that runs from Lord Jagannath Temple to Gundicha Temple. Narendra Tank is a holy lake and surrounding this lake there are many small and big temples located. In the middle of Narendra Tank there lies Chandana Mandapa, a small temple situated on an island. Narendra Tank is mainly known for Chandana Yatra in which many big and small deities are taken out of their temples and are floated in the pious water of Narendra Tank.

Sudarshan Crafts Museum: Sudarshan Crafts museum was established by Shri Sudarshan Sahoo in the year 1977 and is mainly known for the beautifully designed sculptures made on stone and wood along with paintings that are on display. Sudarshan Crafts Museum is located on Station road, Puri. Inside this museum there is a Buddhists Monastery which is worth admiring. These stone or wood crafted designs are worth buying for home decorations.

Laxmi Temple: Laxmi Temple at Puri is dedicated to Goddess Laxmi and is located very close to Lord Jagannath Temple. The Laxmi Temple at Puri plays an important role during the Rath Yatra (Chariot pulling) at Puri. Inside the main sanctum there is an idol of Goddess Laxmi. Tourists are restricted to take photographs inside Laxmi Temple.

Vimala Temple: Vimala Temple at Puri is another Hindu temple dedicated to Goddess Vimala and is located at the south-west corner of the inner closure of Lord Jagannath Temple and on the western corner of the tower of Lord Jagannath, which is next to the sacred Rohini Kund. Vimala Temple is built in Sand Stone and Laterite and is eastern facing. The Vimala Temple at Puri is regarded as a Shakti Peetha and is presently maintained by the Archeological Survey of India Orissa Circle.

Lokanatha TemplePuri Lokanatha Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and it is believed that this temple was established by Lord Rama. A unique feature of this temple is that the Shiva Lingam stays always under water which in turn firms the belief that Goddess Ganga flows through the top of the Shiva Linga.

Kanchi Ganesh Temple: Kanchi Ganesh Temple is situated within the premises of Lord Jagannath Temple at Puri. The Kanchi Ganesh Temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesha and the idol is carved out of black granite stone, the idol of Lord Ganesh is in a dancing pose. It is learned that the idol was brought to Puri by the King of Orissa after winning a war with the King of Kanchi.

Shri Sonar Gouranga Mandir: Shri Sonar Gouranga Mandir (Temple) is another point of tourist interest at Puri located around 03 km away from the temple of Lord Jagannath. Shri Sonar Gouranga Mandir is located on Chakratirtha road and the main idol in the sanctum is of Shri Gouranga (Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu). The temple remains open from 08.00 am to 12.00 pm and again from 04.00 pm to 08.30 pm.

Blue Splash Water Park: Blue Splash Water Park is an amusement park in Puri located on Puri – Konark Marine Drive road. The Blue Splash Water Park remains open from 09.00 am to 05.00 pm. Inside the park tourists can enjoy several water rides along with that there is a children’s playground and amusement park located within.

Around Puri: 

Raghurajpur: (10 km): Raghupajpur is a small village located around 10 km away from Puri on NH203. Raghupajpur is the village famous for its patta chitra or paintings on palm leaves and silk. Raghurajpur was the birthplace of late Guru Kelu Charan Mahapatra, the Odissi dance maestro. The village is currently being promoted as a handicraft hub by the state government, in collaboration with INTACH. Tourists visiting Raghupajpur are advised to check out the paintings on the facades of almost every house in the village as the local people are quite efficient in their artistic excellence and their works are known worldwide. From Puri by Puri – Bhubaneshwar road tourists need to reach Chandanpur, from there by the right side route within a few distances comes another right turn which leads to Raghurajpur village.

Sakshi Gopal (17 km): The Sakshi Gopal Temple also known as Satyabadi Gopinatha Temple is a medieval temple dedicated to Lord Gopinatha or Lord Krishna and is located on Puri – Bhubaneshwar highway in the town of Sakhigopal. The temple of Sakshi Gopal is built in Kalinga Architecture style. From Puri a drive of about 40 minutes will reach Sakshi Gopal Temple.

Pipli (36 km): Pipli is a small town known for its applique works and is located around 36 km away from Puri. Originally, artists from this place made umbrellas and dresses for Lord Jagannath and canopies for the Lord’s Rath (Chariot). The village of Pipli has a long history that dates back to the 12th Century when it was established to accommodate the craftsmen. But now tourists will find a diverse range of applique items including handbags, puppets, purses, wall hangings, bedspreads, cushion covers, pillow covers, lampshades, lanterns and table cloths.

Konark Sun Temple: The Konark Sun temple is located around 34 km away from Puri via smooth East Coast Road of Marine Drive. This magnificent Sun Temple here is no doubt the paragon of Oriyan art and architecture. Although partly in ruins, its colossal size and intricate stone artwork, executed with masterly touch, not to mention the diversity of themes expressed, simply take one’s breath away. Modeled on the image of the Sun God coursing through heaven on his seven – horse- drawn chariot, the temple was built in the 13th century by the Ganga dynasty ruler, Narshimha Dev I (158 to 1264). Legend has it that it took 1200 masons and 12 years to complete. There are thousands of images of deities, celestial and human musicians, dancers, lovers and myriad scenes of country life, ranging from hunts and military battles to the pleasures of courtly leisure. There are three beautiful and detailed sculptures of the Sun God on the northern, western and southern facades of the temple tower. This architectural structure remains open from sunrise to sunset. There is also a museum at Konark which is worth visiting.

Nandankakan Zoological Park: Nandankanan Zoological Park is spread over an area of about 1080 acres and is known for the Zoo and botanical garden located at Bhubaneshwar, Orissa. Nandankanan Zoological Park is located around 75 km away from Puri it takes about 01 hour 25 minutes to reach here. A part of the botanical garden of Nandankanan has been declared a sanctuary due to the presence of wide variables of flora.

Chilka Lake: From Puri by hired car, tourists can visit a tourist Point of Chilka Lake named Satapada which is about 50 km. At Satapada tourists can enjoy motor boat rides on the water of Chilka and witness the groups of Gangetic Dolphins and also the confluence point of rivers and sea. Orissa tourism department also arranges for conducted tours at Satapada. Chilka Lake is also a paradise for bird watchers and photographers.

Alarnatha Temple: Alarnatha Temple is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu located around 25 km away from Puri. The Alarnatha Temple is situated at Bramhagiri and the temple is associated with the visit of the Alwar saint Ramanujcharya to Orissa. The Alarnath Temple becomes crowded by devotees and tourists during Krishnapaksha of Ashada, just after the Snana Yatra when Lord Jagannath cannot be seen in Puri. It is believed that Lord Jagannath Dev gives darshan to his followers as Alarnath Dev after the Snana Yatra at Alarnatha Temple.

Astaranga Beach: Astaranga Beach is mainly popular for the colourful sunset in the evening. The Astranga beach is an extremely picturesque beach located in the fishing village Astarang in Puri located around 67 km away. The Astaranga Beach is also a nesting spot for the Olive Ridley Turtles in the winter season.

Festivals of Puri: 

Rath Yatra: The world famous ‘Rath Yatra’ occurs at Puri centring the temple of Lord Jagganath. The Rath Yatra is the biggest festival in Puri and all over Orissa as well. During this Rath Yatra at Puri all over the city experiences a festive mood. All roads and temples are very beautifully decorated. During Rath Yatra many eminent personalities and royal family members used to gather at Puri to witness this festival. A list of the Pandas is also prepared for those who will remain in-charge of this massive festival of Rath Yatra at Puri. The Rath Yatra at Puri commemorates Lord Jagannath’s annual visit through ceremonial procession to Gundhicha Temple via Mausi Maa Temple (Maternal Aunt’s House) near Saradha Bali at Puri. During the Rath Yatra, the deities remain in Gundicha Temple for seven days, where Lord Jagannatha is offered a delicacy known as ‘Poda- Pitha’ (fire baked cake). During the Rath Yatra several devotees are allowed to pull the ropes of the Chariot on the Bada Danda, the grand avenue.

Snana Yatra: The Snana Yatra or the bathing festival is an important festival among the Hindus which is celebrated on the auspicious birthday of Lord Jagannath. On this Occasion the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Madanmohan are brought out of the main sanctum of Lord Jagannath Temple of Puri and are taken through a grand procession to the bathing platform. Numerous devotees and tourists gather at Puri in order to witness this auspicious and sacred occasion. The Snana Yatra was held during the Rath Yatra at Puri.

Naba Kalebara: Nabakalebara is an important festival among the Hindus which is observed in the Lord Jagannath Temple of Puri. This festival marks the symbolic demise and rebirth of Lord Jagannath. In this festival the wooden idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudharshana are replaced with a new set of wooden idols at Jagannath Temple. This ritual is performed every 08th, 12th or 19th year after the previous Nabakalebara and during this ritual thousands of tourists rush to Puri in order to witness this festival.

Samudra Arti: The Samudra Arti is offered to the Sea as per the Vedic rituals. In this ritual the hymns and chants rise up with the clang of gongs. During this Samudra Arti the Bay of Bengal forms a majestic natural backdrop by the arrangements made by the worshippers. It is done in order to spread the message of peace and harmony among humanity and the surrounding natural world.

Getting there/ How to reach: 

By Air: The nearest airport is Biju Patnaik Airport at Bhubaneshwar (the state capital of Orissa) which is located around 60 km from Puri. Bhubaneshwar is well connected by daily flight services with Kolkata and other major cities of India as well. From the airport tourists will easily get buses, private cars and trains to reach Puri from Bhubaneshwar.

By Train: The nearest rail head is Puri railway station located around 02 km away from Swargadwar (The heart of Puri). Puri is well connected with strong railway networks with Kolkata and other major cities of India. From Howrah railway station trains like Puri Express, Jagganath Express, Howrah – Puri Duranto Express (except Wednesday), Garibrath Express (Tuesday and Thursday) and Dhauli Express reaches Puri. And from Sealdah railway station trains like Sealdah – Puri Duranto Express (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) also reach Puri.

By Road: Puri is well connected by strong roadway networks with the closest cities and the neighboring cities. Bus is considered to be the main option to travel within Puri. The bus terminus of Puri is located near Gundicha Temple and hence makes it convenient for tourists to access it. The bus stand of Puri is located around 03 km from Swargadwar and hence tourists will easily find local transport on hire.

Best time to visit: Though Puri remains crowded with tourists throughout the year, the tropical climate of Odisha with pleasant winters, hot and humid summers and heavy rainfalls makes October to April the best time to visit Puri. As the summer season ends and the monsoon starts, numerous tourists also rush to Puri in order to enjoy the beauty of the sea beaches along with the Bay of Bengal.