Puri is one of the major pilgrimage centers in India. It is situated at the east of Orissa, on the shore of Bay of Bengal. Puri is one of the four Hindu Dham‘s (major places of worship), namely Puri, Dwarka, Rameswaram and Badrinath.
If you are planning to Puri, especially if you do not know much about the place, here are a handful of quick-tips you can use.
How to Reach Puri
- Puri by Air: There is only one airport in Odisha. The Biju Patnaik airport at Bhubaneswar, 56 km away from Puri is the nearest airport to Puri. Bhubaneswar is well connected with Kolkata, Delhi & Hyderabad (the main cities of India) by daily direct flights.
- Puri by train: Puri is a major railway junction. Regular direct trains are available from Puri to Bhubaneswar, New Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata. All the big cities of Orissa and rest of India are well connected by regular trains. If you arrive by train from outside Orissa, then go to the Orissa State Tourist counter at the station for advice. They will definitely be of help.
- Puri by road: Puri is connected with the major parts of India by roads. The state transport buses and the private buses are regularly and easily available between Puri and Bhubaneswar.
Places to visit in Puri
If you are on a one day short visit to Puri, following places would be of interest:
- The Jagannath Temple (of course)
- Puri Beach
- Atharanala Bridge
- Shankaracharya’s GOBARDHAN Pitha
- Swargadwar (cremation ghat for Hindus)
- Sunara Gaurang Temple
- Bedi Hanuman Temple
- Chakra Tirtha Temple
- Mausima Temple
- Akshaya Patra Foundation – A modern Kitchen at Grand Road, Puri, provides mid day meals for one lakh children daily in and around Puri.
- Five Pilgrim place around Puri (Pancha tirtha): Markanda, Indra-dumnaya, Rohini Kunda (inside temple), Kalpa Brukhya (inside temple), Mahodadhi (sea)
Places to visit around Puri
These can be covered in one day. But I would advise to take a separate day to visit places outside Puri.
- The sun temple of Konark
- Chandrabhaga beach
- Puri-Konark marine drive
- Baliharchandi temple
- Alarnath temple
- Lingaraj temple, Khandagiri, Udayagiri caves, Nandankanan zoo in Bhubaneswar
- Chillika Lake
- Satapada (for dolphin)
- Pipili (for applique work)
- Raghurajpur (for pattachitra)
Do visit Lord Jagannath temple first, then the places nearby and enjoy the beautiful sea beach.
Jagannath Temple and Puri Tourist Information
STD code: 6752
If dialing from India to Puri: 06752 (number)
if dialing from outside India to Puri: +91 6752 (number)
Entry for Non-Hindu in Puri Jagannath Temple:
Entry to Puri Jagannath temple is restricted only to Hindus. Others can see the lords only during RathYatra (The Car Festival).
Entry to the temple is free for all. There are no entry fees required.
The temple opens at 5:00 am and remains open till the midnight.
Not allowed/Restricted items:
Mobile phones, cameras, electronic items and leather items are not allowed inside the temple premises. Photography is strictly prohibited inside the temple. It will be good for the ladies to carry cotton hand bags instead of leather vanity bags. You can carry some necessary things for you or for kids e.g. food, water bottle etc.
Puri, and the Jagannath Temple, get very crowded on special worship days and on festivals such as the car festival,sunabesha,deva snana purnima/snana yatra etc.
The climate of Puri in winter is wonderful; so many tourists come in this season (mainly the month of December & January). Long queues are seen on the New Year day in the badadanda for darshan of Lord Jagannath. In the month of Kartika (October), the widow women & the habishyali build a heavy rush at the temple.
Demand for accommodation in hotels and lodges goes up during special festivals, especially during RathaYatra and the month of Kartika.
Care for Children:
There are no shops available selling baby foods, snacks or fruits in the temple premises. So, for the kids and infants, it is wise to carry some regular food for them. This can be very useful as you can not always walk outside to BadaDanda easily.
The Prasad (offerings):
You can buy the prasad of Lord Jagannath at the Anand Bazaar and it is available for all devotees for whole day. Daily Bhoga (offering) is available in the afternoon. The morning Bhoga (Pahili Bhogo) is available during the month of December & January only. (Unlike earlier, the Mahaprasad is not very affordable for everyone these days. So, it is wise to buy small amount of mahaprasad for taking the sacred bhoga and then have a proper lunch in any good hotel outside.)
- Try to avoid the cunning priests or Pandas of the temple. They can extract money from your pocket heartlessly in the name of God.
- Don’t enter into the inner most chamber of any temple. They will ask you to offer puja to a number of Gods of the same temple very politely but will demand money separately in the name of each God.
- You should carry enough change with you, so that you can donate Rs 1, 2, 5, 10 to get rid of them without any trouble.
- Pandas generally try to act as guides for non-local people, show them around, and tell the stories about the temple. They might demand excessive amounts from inexperienced visitors for entering into the inner most chambers & touching the deities in the main temple. Temple administration should employ pre-paid/fixed-rate guides in the temple premises.
Safety instructions to be followed outside the temple, in Puri:
- If you stay at any cheap hotel or guest house on Swargadwar or New Puri, be careful about your luggage. Avoid visiting the beach after 8 pm.
- When needed, the hotel should be able to arrange for a local doctor for you. If you get seriously ill in Puri, it will be wise to go on to any good private hospital of Bhubaneswar rather than the govt hospitals in Puri. The atmosphere of the govt. hospital seems to be very unhygienic.
- Avoid all fast food at the sea-shore road-side food stalls. Eat only in those hotels that look neat & clean.
- Stay away from monkeys. Don’t attract them with food and other stuff.