Jagannath Puri: 1 temple and many secrets to unfold


Jagannath puri Temple is a very important Hindu temple. It is dedicated to the Lord Vishnu as Lord Jagannath is a form of Lord Vishnu. The meaning of Jagannath in Hindi means the lord of the Jagat or the world. The temple is situated in the town of Puri. That is situated in the state of Odisha on the eastern coast of India.

It is a very important pilgrimage destination for the followers of Hinduism. The present temple is rebuilt from the 10th century onwards. The original temple was built by king Anantvaraman Chodaganga Deva who is the first among the Eastern Ganga Dynasty.

Jagannath Puri

The famous rath yatra of Jagannath Puri

The famous annual Rath Yatra or the chariot festival, in which the three famous deities of the temple are pulled through the town on the elaborately decorated chariots. Unlike the stone and metal idols in the Hindu temples, the idols here are made of wood. And are replaced every twelve years by the exact replicas.

The temple is considered sacred to all Hindus, especially who belong to the Vaishnava sect. That is a branch from the Hinduism. Many great saints such as Ramananda and Ramanuja are associated with this temple and are considered the holy resting place of the lord Vishnu. Ramanuj established the Emart Mutt, which is considered as the seat of one of the shankaracharyas. It also has significance to the followers of different sects who believe in the existence of lord jagannath. At the temple of jagannath puri in the state of Odisha.

History behind the beautiful architecture

Thje temple was built by the Ganga dynasty king Anantavarman Chodaganga in the 12th century. CE, as suggested by the copper plate inscription of his descendent Narsimhadeva ll. Anantvarman was originally a shivite and later became a vaishnavite sometime after he conqured the Utkala region in 1112 CE. A 1135 – 1135 CE the inscriptions records his doination to the temple. Therefore the temple construction should have started sometime after 1112 CE.

According to the story in the temple chronicles, it was founded by Anangabhima-deva ll, different chroniocles vasriously mention the year of construction as 1196, 1197, 1205, 1216 or 1226. This suggests that the temple’s construction completed or that the temple was renovated during the reign of Anantvarman’s son Anangabhima. The temple complex was further developed during the reign of the subsequent kings including those of the Ganga dynasty and the Suryavanshi dynasty.

Jagannath Puri
Jagganathpuri Temple

The Architecture at a glance that makes your head roll in amusement

 Jagannath, Balbhadra and Subhadra are a trio of deities worshiped at the temple. The inner section of the temple contains the statues of these three gods carved from the trunks of the sacred neem tree and are seated on the bejewelled throne or the ratnabedi, along with the statues of Sudarshan Chakra, Madanmohan, Sridevi and Vishvadatri. The deities are decorated with different clothing, jewels according to the season. Worship of these deities pre-cates the building of the temple and may have originated in an ancient tribal shrine.

Legend and stories behind the temple

Accpording to a legend the construction of the first temple at the shrine was commissioned by king Indradyumna. Son of Bharata and Sunanda, and a Malva king. This is also mentioned in the Mahabharata and the Puranas.

In the legendary account that was found in the Skanda Puranas and Brahma Puranas and other Puranas and later Odia works state that lord jagannath was originally worshiped as Neela Mahaba by a savar king or a tribal king named Viswasu. Having heard about the deity, king Indradyumna sent a Brahmin priest Vidyapati to locate the deity, who was worshiped secretly in a dense forrest by Visvasu.

The Brahmin tried his best but could not locate the deity. But in the end he managed to marry visvasu’s daughter Laslita. At the repeated tequest of vidyapati, visvasu took his son-in-law blind folded to a cave where the lord Neela Mahaba was worshiped.

Amusement stories behind the temple

Vidyapati was very intelligent. He dropped mustard seeds on his way to the temple. The seeds germinated in a few days which enabled him to find out the cave afterward. By coming to know about this the king Indradyumna proceeded immediately to Odra desh (Odisha) on a pilgrimage and to visit the cave temple and the deity. But to his surprise the deity had disappeared. But the king was determined, not to return before having darshan of the deity and observed fast unto death on the Mount Neela.

Then he heard a celestial voice call him and tell that he shall see him afterwards. Then the king performed a horse sacrifice and built a temple for Vishnu. Sri Narsimhamurti bought by the saint Narada was installed in the temple. That night during sleep the king had a vision of Lord Jagannatha. Also he heard a celestial voice tell him to direct him to fetch a fragrant tree to make the idols out of it.

Accordingly the king got the image of lord Jagannath, Balbhadra and Subhadra and Sudarshan Chakra made out of the wood of the divine tree and installed them in the temple.

Biggest Idol in The World

King Indradyumna built the highest idol in the world of lord jagannath. He invited lord Brahma to consecrate the temple and its images. Brahma descended all the way from Heaven for this purpose.  On seeing the temple lord Brahma was so pleased that he asked the king to ask for a wish as he was very pleased with the king for putting the most beautiful temple of lord Vishnu in those times.

On hearing this the king asked with folded hands that if he is pleased with him then he should keep him issueless and that he be the last king of his dynasty. And that there should be no one left alive from his family after him. He wanted to take pride as the only owner of the temple and not work for the society.

Traditional stories of Jagganathpuri

The traditional stories concerning the origins of the lord jagannath temple is that the original image of the lord at the end of the treat yug took shape near a banyan tree near the sea shore in the form of indranila mani or the blue jewel. It was so dazzling that it could grant instant moksha.

So the god yama wanted to hide it beneath the earth and was successful at it. In the Dvapar yuga the king indradyumn wanted to find the image and so he performed hard penances to obtain his goal. Lord Visgnu then instructed him to go and look for it near the seashore and find a floating log to make an image of the lord from it.

The king found the log of wood.  Then he performed a yagna from which god yajna Nrisimha appeatred and instructed that the lord image should be made as fourfold expansion, i.e. parmatma as vasudeva, his vyuha as Samkarshana, yogmaya as Subhadra, and his vibaha as Sudarshana. Vishvakarma appeared as an artisan and prepared the images of jagannath, Balbhadra and Subhadra from the log of the tree.

Fascinating tale of JagganthPuri

When this log radiant with light was found floating in the sea. Then Narada told the king go make three images from the log and place them in a pavilion. The king got vishvakarma the architect of the gods, to build a magnificent temple to house the idols. Then Vishnu himself appeared in the guise of a carpenter to make the idols on condition that he should not be disturbed before he finishes his job. But just after two weeks the queen became very anxious.

She took the carpenter to be dead asd no sound came from the room where he worked. So she requested the king to open the door. Thus they went inside to see Vishnu at work, who abandoned the work instantly leaving the idols unfinished. The idols were devoid of any hands. But then a divine voice told the king to install the idols in the temple. It has been widely believed that in spite of the idols without any hands still it can keep a watch all over the universe and be the lord of the universe.

Ban of non-hindus in the temple

Non-Hindus are not permitted inside the temple. Visitors who are not permitted inside the temple can have a view of the temple from the roof of the adjoining library and pay their respects to the images of lord jagannath at the main entrance to the temple. There is so,me evidence that this was enforced as many foreigners invaded the temple and tried to destroy the sanctity of the place and the surrounding area.

Timings of the temple

The temple is open from 5.00 am to midnight.  Unlike in many temples the devotees can go around the temple and the main idols. During the special darshan or the prikarma darshan, devotees pay a small fees to go up to the statues. All devotees are allowed to go right up to the deities during the sahana mela or the special appearances from 7 – 8/00 am without paying any fees.

Wrap up

Starting from lord jagannath himself, history has it that he was a tribal deity that was abandoned by the sabar people, as a symbol of Narayan. Another legend claims him to be Nilamadhava, an image of Narayan madfe of blue stone and worshipped by aboriginals.