Puri Travel Guide

Puri Travel Guide

Puri Travel Guide

Photo by rkrandhir on Pixabay // CC0

Introduction

Sitting on the Bay of Benegal, Puri is famous for its beaches and temples. These seaside respites will never give Goa a run for its money. However, they can be blissful after weeks of brutal travel in India.

With attractions like Chilika Lake and a legitimate artist’s village, you may linger longer than expected.

Come check out our thorough travel guide of Puri as we cover the best things to do in Puri, India.

Top Attractions

Start your adventure in Puri by taking an hour or so to explore Jagannath Temple. This hall of worship honours Lord Jagannath (Lord of the Universe), a form of Vishnu. Built in the 10th century AD, this place has been a pilgrimage site for over a millennium.

The reasons vary by pilgrim. Some come here due to its association with saints like Ramananda and Ramanuja. Others, like Gaudiya Vaishnavism adherents, come because their spiritual leader, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, worshipped here for decades.

However, even as a casual visitor, its eclectic architecture and atmosphere will impress you. Its statues, sculptures, gates, and gardens are all breathtaking, with throngs of worshippers completing the picture.

If you can, time your visit to Puri so you can attend the Ratha Yatra festival. Held in the Hindu month of Asadha (spans from late June to late July), a procession of gigantic chariots is its highlight. Purported to carry gods like Jagannath, it is a sight you won’t soon forget.

Sakshigopal Temple is another Hindu holy site worth a visit while in Puri. Constructed in the Kalinga style, it was built to honour Lord Gopinatha. The story behind this temple’s construction is as impressive as its centre spire.

Long ago, a young villager fell for one of the headmaster’s daughters. Upon finding out he was of a lower caste, he forbid them to see each other. Sometime later, a large group travelled to Kashi on a pilgrimage. This group included the poor boy and the headmaster.

Along the way, the headmaster fell ill. The group abandoned him, figuring he was as good as dead. The boy, however, stayed with him and nursed the headmaster back to health. To pay back this deed, he gave his blessing for the boy to marry his daughter.

The headmaster soon revealed his dishonest character, though. Upon rejoining the village group, he denied being returned to health by the boy. A man who claimed to be Lord Gopala then stepped forward from the crowd. If the boy led the group back to the village, he would vouch for him.

Along the way, the boy passed a pile of sand on the road. At this point, he couldn’t hear the footsteps of Lord Gopala behind him. Instinctively, he turned around – at that instant, Lord Gopala turned into a stone statue. Villagers, bewildered by what they had seen, were impressed a god would back the word of a boy from an inferior caste.

That’s all it took for the boy and the headmaster’s daughter to get married. Shortly after, the people built a temple in the village, and the couple became its first priests.

Want to check out some local art? If so, include the Raghurajpur Artist Village in your sightseeing plans. While the artisans here specialize in several disciplines, its Pattachitra painters stand out.

A scroll painting technique that dates back 2,000 years, the specimens they create are truly stunning. In addition to this, other works include masks, stone and wood carvings, paper mache toys, and palm leaf engravings. If you’re looking for an unforgettable souvenir, you’ll find it here!

Nature lovers will not want to leave the Puri region without checking out Chilika Lake. Actually a coastal lagoon rather than a freshwater lake, some experts say it is the second largest of its kind in the world. At this moment, this site is under review by UNESCO.

This body of water is enormously essential to humans and animals. Its fish sustains people living in 132 villages along its shores. It is the most significant wintering ground for migratory birds in India, making this place a must for birders. Finally, its waters are home to numerous threatened species of plants & animals.

Other Attractions

The Puri area is home to many beaches of religious and recreative importance. Puri Beach is the most accessible, and thus, the most popular. Many locals swim here, and there are lifeguards. However, do take care, as a strong undertow exists. If you don’t see a local swimming somewhere, don’t go there yourself.

Konark Beach is an equally viable alternative to Puri Beach. Further from the centre, its sands are cleaner than its more famous cousin. However, you’ll still find sand art and food stalls here. Like Puri, undertows are present, especially when the surf is rough – beware!

If you want to escape the heat, take a day trip up to Daring Badi. A hill station sitting at 3,000 feet above sea level, the weather is cooler here compared to the coast. As you make your way to the village centre, you’ll pass through fields of turmeric. Arrive here on a winter morning, and you may get to witness freezing temperatures in the tropics!