Jagannath Temple is a world-renowned shrine, carrying religious significance. Positioned in the coastal town of Puri in Orissa, Jagannath Mandir is one of the four major pilgrimage sites of the Hindus. The temple is easily accessible through regular buses or taxis that are available throughout Orissa. The term Jagannath is derived from two words, "Jagat" and "Nath", where the former means "the Universe" and the later means "Lord". Consequently, Jagannath means "Lord of the Universe".
Lord Jagannath is considered as the form of Lord Krishna. The temple is significant for upkeeping many traditions of the Hindus. Jagannath Temple is predominantly considerable to the followers of the Gaudiya Vaishnavism as the cult was founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The legend was fascinated by the Lord Jagannath and lived in Puri for several years. Even Saint Ramananda was attracted by the deity and made a kind of bondage with the temple.
Lord Jagannath is the symbol of universal love and ecstasy. In the shrine, main attention is gathered by Lord Jagannath along with Balabhadra (Balrama) and Subhadra (Sister of Lord Krishna). The images of deities are carved out of margosa wood. These images are placed on the "Ratnabedi" (bejeweled platform) in the sanctum sanctorum. The offering to the Lord is known as Maha Prasada and it consists of 56 varieties of food.
Rath Yatra / Chariot Festival
Jagannath Mandir is extraordinarily celebrated for its Chariot Festival (Rath Yatra), which is celebrated annually. During this festival, huge chariots carrying the images of Lord Jagannath, Balarama and Subhadra are taken out for a procession through the streets of Puri. Every year, this festival is observed in the month of June/ July. Millions of people come from all over the world, to take part in the ceremonies and rituals of this festival.
The origin of Jagannath Mandir can be traced in the medieval times. The ancient temple is vital for Vaishnavites/ Hindus. The Vishnu Chakra is the highest point of the temple. The red flag over the Chakra indicates that the Lord is within the shrine. The Jagmohana and the Vimana are believed to made during the reign of Anantavarman Chodaganga Dev (1078 -1148 CE), who was the ruler of Kalinga.
However, the present structure was shaped in 1174 CE by Ananga Bhima Deva, a ruler of Orissa. In 1558, the temple was invaded by Kalapahad (an Afghan general) and the worship of the deity was stopped. Consequently, Ramachandra Deb established his own Kingdom at Khurda in Orissa. He took the initiative to re-establish the shrine and got the deities re-installed.
Legend about the origin of Jagannath Temple
The conventional legend says that the original image of Lord Jagannath (form of Lord Krishna) was found in the vicinity of a fig tree. The image was realized in the form of an Indranila (Blue Jewel). The sight of the image was so glittering that Dharma decided to bury it in the earth. Later, Kind Indradyumna of Malwa sought to locate the image. In order to find the image, he did strict penance and appeased the Lord. Subsequently, Lord Vishnu advised him to go to the Puri seashore, where he would get a floating log. From the log, he could make an image of Lord Jagannath. On finding the log, the King met two artists, who were none other than Lord Vishnu and Vishwakarma. They then made idols of Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra from the log.
In the 12th century, Jagannath Temple was constructed by Ananta Barma Chodaganga Dev, designed on "Pancha Ratha" plan with a curvilinear tower. The construction was by Ananga Bhima Dev. The shrine is one amongst the tallest monuments in the country. It elevates to the extent of 214 feet above the ground level. Erected on a raised plinth, Jagannath Temple appears majestic with its grand structure. The shrine has four gateways on its each side, by the name of Lion gate, Horse Gate, Tiger Gate and Elephant Gate respectively.
Sprawled in an area of over 400,000 square feet, the temple is encircled by high walls. The temple complex encompasses not less than 120 shrines. The structure has the smoothness of the Orissan style of temple architecture. A glorious monolithic pillar with sixteen facets stands in front of the main entrance. Two massive lions at the entrance look, as if, they are guarding the way to the Lord.
Location : Puri, Orissa
Built in : 12th century
Dedicated to : Lord Jagannath, Goddess Subhadra, Lord Balabhadra
Significance : One of the pilgrimages of the Hindus