A quaint old town with little else to sell than an ancient religious heritage as one of Hindu India’s four most sacred Hindu pilgrimages, Puri is a rambling seaside town on the eastern coast of Orissa overlooking the Bay of Bengal. Puri attracts visitors and lulls them into a soporific trance, a state of mind popularly known as “Puri Paralysis”. Its other major claim to fame is that it is the home of the Lord of the World, Lord Jagannath, whose awesome chariot procession through the streets gave English language, the word "juggernaut", the unstoppable force.
The ‘Rath Yatra’ or chariot procession is the only frenzied activity that transpires here when the gods who reside in the Jagannath Temple are ceremoniously transported to a garden retreat and the town is flooded by vast multitudes of people who travel to Puri seeking salvation.
How to Reach Puri?
By Air : The nearest national airport in the state is at Bhubaneshwar. There are frequent flights from Calcutta, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad. Puri is 62 km away, a distance that can be covered by road or by rail.
By Rail : Direct express trains link Puri with Delhi, via Varanasi or Puri. There are trains to Calcutta and Guwahati too. Puri has a branch line of South Eastern Railway network connecting the southern Indian states to Puri. From other places in India, trains arrive at the nearest major junction at Bhubaneshwar, 62 km away or at Khurda Road, 44 km from Puri.
By Road : Puri and Bhubaneshwar are well connected by road; with frequent and fast state transport buses and minibus services that do the journey in few hours. Cars, Jeeps and other private vehicles also ply on the same route as do luxury buses run by Orissa Tourism Development Corporation.
Best Time to Visit Puri
While one can visit Puri any time of the year, the winter months from November to February are the best time to visit as the weather is at its balmiest best. If you don’t mind being part of a crowd of thousands of people and are seriously devout, then come here during June and July when the Rath Yatra takes places. It is the annual Chariot Festival of the Jagannath Temple when devotees throng this town to pull the Lord’s chariot. The rainy season (June to September) is best avoided as the southeast monsoon really pours its heart out.
Things to do in Puri
Puri has always been known as a religious town as it is home to the famed Jagannath Temple amongst others. So the spiritually inclined will find succor in this temple town. Other things to do here involve the beach – walk along the sandy shores and enjoy the beautiful beach that runs along the shores of this town.
Buy some patta chitra paintings and some local handicrafts to take home as souvenirs. Puri is a good break from big city life!
Places Near Puri
Puri has some interesting places to visit nearby, so take a day excursion out of the town and make the trip.
Raghurajpur, a famous artists village in Orissa is 16 km from Puri. Besides art – pattachittra and talapattachittra, this village is the hometown of Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra, one of the most renowned exponents of Odissi, the lyrical classical dance genre born in the temples of Orissa and handed down from generation to generation in the Guru-Shishya (teacher-disciple) tradition.
Satyabadi or Sakshigopal is 20 km from Puri and a trip to Puri is considered incomplete if one does not visit the shrine of Lord Sakshigopal(Krishna) here.
Balighai, 8 km from Puri is a popular picnic spot at the point where the River Nuanai meets the sea. Brahmagiri with the shrine of Alarnath and the shrine of Baliharachandi on the solitary sand dunes near the River Bhargavi is only 25 km away.
Birapratapur and Ganganarayanpur are two traditional Brahmin villages, situated inland amongst the coconut palms, paddy fields, muddy lakes and rivers. Thatched houses of baked clay and wood, painted with gay designs, and small temples are the main attractions of these quaint villages that worship Lord Vishnu.
Hotels in Puri – Choice is Yours
There are numerous Hotels in Puri ranging from 3-star, 4-star and 5-star deluxe to budget hotels.