The Jagannath Temple in Puri is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Jagannathand located in the coastal town of Puri in the state of Odisha, India. The nameJagannath (Lord of the Universe) is a combination of the Sanskrit words Jagat(Universe) and Nath (Lord ) elevated platform or “Ratnabedi” on which the wooden form of Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra are worshiped . The temple is an important pilgrimage destination for many Hindutraditions, particularly worshippers of Krishna and Vishnu, and part of the Char Dham pilgrimages that a Hindu is expected to make in one’s lifetime .The temple was built in the 11th century atop its ruins by the progenitor of the Eastern Ganga dynasty, King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva.The temple is famous for its annual Rath Yatra, or chariot festival, in which the three main temple deities are hauled on huge and elaborately decorated temple cars. Since medieval times, it is also associated with intense religious fervour.
Puri is an ancient shrine, enshrining Krishna – Jagannath in the form of a wooden image. Also enshrined are wooden images of Balabhadra (Balarama) and Subhadra brother and sister of Krishna respectively. Interestingly, the Rig Veda refers to Purushottama in the form of a wooden image, prepared from a log of wood floating on the ocean. Puri is also referred to in the Bramha purana.
Orissa has Konark as the Surya Kshetra, Puri as the Vishnu kshetra, Bhubaneshwar as the Hara Kshetra and Jaipur as the Parvati Kshetra.
The huge temple complex covers an area of over 400,000 square feet and is surrounded by a high fortified wall. Another wall known as kurma bedha surrounds the main temple.[It contains at least 120 temples and shrines. With its sculptural richness and fluidity of the Oriya style of temple architecture, it is one of the most magnificent monuments of India. The temple has four distinct sectional structures.
The main temple is a curvilinear temple and crowning the top is the ‘Sri chakra ‘ (a eight spoked wheel) of Vishnu. Also known as the “Nilachakra”, it is made out of Ashtadhatu and is considered sacrosanct. Among the existing temples in Orissa, the temple of Shri Jagannath is the highest. The temple tower was built on a raised platform of stone and, rising to 214 feet above the inner sanctum where the deities reside, dominates the surrounding landscape. The pyramidal roofs of the surrounding temples and adjoining halls, , rise in steps toward the tower like a ridge of mountain peaks.
As per the claimed The temple’s kitchen is considered as the largest kitchen in the world. Tradition maintains that all food cooked in the temple kitchens are supervised by the Godess Mahalakshmi , the empress of Shri Mandir herself. It is said that if the food prepared has any fault in it a shadow dog appears near the temple kitchen. The temple cooks or Mahasuaras take this as a sign of displeasure of Mahalakshmi with the food which is promptly buried and a new batch cooked. All food is cooked following rules as prescribed by Hindu religious texts, the food cooked is pure vegetarian without using onions and garlic. Cooking is done only in earthen pots with water drawn from two special wells near the kitchen called Ganges and Yamuna. There are total 56 varieties of naivedhyas offered to the deities, near ratnavedi as well as in bhoga mandap on five particular Muhurta.The most awaited prasad iskotho bhoga or abadha, offered at mid-day at around 1 pm, depending upon temple rituals. The food after being offered to Jagannath is distributed at reasonable amount as Mahaprasad, which considered as divine to devotees .