Situated on the eastern coastline of the country, Puri is most well known as an important Hindu pilgrimage center. The Jagannath Temple, one of the four most important Hindu pilgrimage sites or the chardham is located here. Also, Puri's wonderfully wide white-sand beaches, fishing farms and superb resorts make it an inviting tourist destination. The surf on the beaches here is one of the best on the entire eastern coastline of India, and dawn is a breathtaking sight. Visiting the Lord Jagannath temple, walking on the beach and experiencing the beauty of the sunrise and sunset are probably some of the best things to do in Puri. One could also visit the nearby small villages to look at the folk art and handicrafts, which are bright, colourful and exquisitely crafted items. The traditional methods of fishing used by the local fishermen are of interest, as is visiting nearby historic sites to garner a sense of the city's history and the lifestyle of the locals.
Puri has a typical tropical climate and is best visited during the winters between October to April after the monsoon clears all the dust and dirt around. Light woolens may be required, for nights by the sea can be slightly chilly.
Tourist Attractions in Puri
Puri has a number of religious and cultural tourist destinations, as well as interesting excursion sites nearby.
The magnificent Jagannath temple is regarded as one of the Chardhams (four pilgrimage sites) of Hindu religion, which are situated on all the four corners of the country. This temple is regarded as the Dham of eastern India. Dedicated to the Lord of the Universe (Jag-universe/ Nath-lord), it was built during the 12th century. One of the tallest (65 m) temples of India, this temple dominates the skyline and the townscape of Puri. It is a living example of the Kalinga style of architecture.
The Gundicha Ghar or Gundicha temple is an important part of the famous Rath Yatra festival of Puri. It has some interesting legends related to it. According to one the Gundicha Ghar is the house of Lord Krishna's loving aunt. On the day of the Rath Yatra, Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are taken in gorgeously caparisoned wooden rath (chariots) from the main gate of the Jagannath temple to Gundicha temple. At the garden house, their aunt greets them by feeding them padoapitha (specially baked rice cakes). This place is regarded as equally holy as Lord stays here for nine days during the festival.
The magnificent Atharnala Bridge that was constructed during the 13th century is a living example of the engineering marvel of the ancient times. The size of the bridge is around 85x11 m, and even after so many centuries it is still in use. Situated at the entrance of the town, pilgrims offer prayers here as well.
Beaches in Puri
Puri's white sand beaches are well known all over the country. They are perhaps the only walkable beaches on the eastern coastline that are carpeted with clean white sand. It is also worthwhile to request the local fishermen for a boat ride into the sea.
Excursions in Puri
Chilka Lake of shimmering blue waters and the playfully jumping fish is the largest fresh water lake in Asia and is also called the ‘honeymooners paradise' and ‘breakfast island'.
If one has an interest in handicrafts of the locals, one must not miss a visit to the small village near Puri called Pipli. This place is famous for the appliqué work of the traditional Orissa style.
The hamlet of Raghurajpur is famous for the patta chitra (paintings done on specially prepared cotton cloth which is coated with a mixture of gum and chalk and polished, before natural colors are applied) art of Orissa. You can watch the traditional, intricate process, which goes into the making of a treasured patta chitra here.
Caves of Wonder
The sixty odd caves of 2nd century BC caves set in the Udaygiri-Khandagiri hills with their ornate carvings and delicate friezes are major tourist attractions.
The cities of Bhubaneswar and Konark should also be visited for their temples and beaches, and the beach of Balighai when on a trip to Puri.
How to Reach Puri
Puri can be reached by air at its nearest airport in Bhubaneswar, which is 56 km away. The Puri railway station is a major railway station having links with several of the important cities in India. The railway station is accessible from the main town area by almost all the modes of local transport. We provide complete travel packages for Puri that are complete with hotel and air bookings, as well as transport services for the entire duration of your tour.
Important Travel Information
Once every year, in the months of June-July the famous Rath Yatra or car festival is held at Puri. It celebrates Lord Jagannath's legendary return to his kingdom on earth. The beach festival is celebrated in the later part of March or early April, and showcases the best of Orissa's folk and classical dance forms, music and handicrafts. Nava Kalebara is a local festival of an immensely significant religious ritual, when the three temple deities Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra change their external forms. New idols are carved out of specially sanctified sandalwood trees, following certain regulations.