Puri - Jaganath temple
The Jagannath Temple here is one of the most important temples in India. The worship of Lord Jagannath is so ancient that there is no idea how long it has been in existence, and the present temple is only one in a long succession of previously built temples that have been destroyed by time. Sankaracharya visited Puri and established one of his four main Maths (monastery) here. Sri Ramanuja visited Puri between 1107 and 1117. Vishnu Swami visited Puri during the second half of the 12th century. He too established a Math, the Vishnuswami Math, located near Markandeswar Tank. Nimbarka Acharya came to Puri on pilgrimage, and Srila Prabhupada visited in January 1977. The main reason Puri is so important to the Gaudiya Vaishnavas is because Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu spent so much of his life here. Many pastimes with his most intimate associates took place at different sites in the Puri area. Non-Hindus (actually, non-Indians) are not permitted to enter the Jagannath temple. This is strictly enforced. Puri has one of the best beaches for swimming in India. It is popular with young foreign tourist. It is a pleasant place.
The name Jagannath literally means “Lord of the Universe.” It is said that the present temple was begun by King Chora Ganga Deva and finished by his descendant, Anangabhima Deva, during the 12th century. The main temple structure is 65m (214 feet) high and is built on elevated ground, making it look more imposing. The temple complex comprises an area of 10.7 acres and is enclosed by two rectangular walls. The outer enclosure is called Meghanada Prachira, 200m (665 ft) by 192m (640 ft). The walls are 6m (20 feet) high.
This temple is said to have the largest kitchen in the world, and feeds thousands of devotees daily. The kitchen can prepare food for 100,000 people on a festival day and 25,000 is not unusual on a normal day. There are thirty-six traditional communities (Chatisha Niyaga) who render a specific hereditary service to the deities. The temple has as many as 6,000 priests.
There is a wheel on top of the Jagannath Temple made of an alloy of eight metals (asta-dhatu). It is called the Nila Chakra (Blue Wheel), and is 3.5m (11 ft 8 in) high with a circumference of about 11m (36 ft). Every day, a different flag is tied to a mast attached to the Nila Chakra. Every Ekadasi, a lamp is lit on top of the temple near the wheel. Thirty different smaller temples surround the main temple. Gundicha Mandir (Temple) This temple is located at the end of Grand Road (the main road) about 3km northeast of the Jagannath Temple.
At the time of the Ratha-yatra festival, Lord Jagannath goes to the Gundicha Temple and stays for one week. After that, he returns to his original temple.
It is said that the wife of Indradyumna, the king who originally established the Jagannath temple, was known as Gundicha. The cleansing of the Gundicha temple takes place the day before the Ratha-yatra festival as mentioned in Chaitanya-caritamrita.
Narasimha Temple This temple is located near the Gundicha Temple. There are two Deities of Lord Narasimha, one behind the other. The Deity in front is called Santa Narasimha (sober). Anyone who sees this Deity will have his anger, frustration, and anxiety vanquished. The Deity in the back is called Raga Narasimha (angry). He is the internal mood of Narasimha. When the Muslim Kalapahad attacked Puri and was smashing Deities, he saw Santa Narasimhadeva and his anger subsided; hence he could not break the Deity as he had planned. Santa Narasimha’s features are human-like. He has a sharp human nose, a large curly mustache, and an outstretched tongue. Non-Hindus are not permitted in the temple, but the Deities are visible from the door.
Haridasa Thakura’s Samadhi The samadhi temple of Haridasa Thakur, the nama-acharya (teacher of the chanting of the holy names) is located by the beach in the Swarga Dwara area near the Purusottama Gaudiya Math. If you are walking on the beach, there is a sign for the Sea Hawk Hotel. The Samadhi is right behind this hotel. Many rickshaw-walas know where it is located. Within the temple, the chapel structure is Haridasa Thakur’s samadhi. There is a nice painting of Haridasa Thakur in the samadhi. On the center altar is a wooden Deity of Sri Chaitanya; on the right, Prabhu Nitya-nanda; and on the left, Advaita Acharya. Residence of Haridasa Thakura Siddha Bakula is the bhajan-kutir of Haridasa Thakura, the place where he chanted 300,000 names of God daily.
About 30m (100 ft) away in the same compound is the Sri Haridasa-Sadbhuj Temple. There is a Sadbhuj-murti (six-armed form) of Sri Chaitanya on the altar. Beside this Deity is Prabhu Nityananda on one side and on the other side a shorter Advaita Acharya. A murti of Haridasa Thakura is in front, to the side of the main altar. There is also a Deity of Lord Narasimha. You can take pictures at Siddha Bakula for an Rs 51 donation.
Gambhira is located close to Siddha Bakula. There is a sign over the door reading “Shri Shri Radhakanta Math, Gambhira.” It is about half a km from the Lion Gate, going toward Swarga Dwara or the ocean. On the left of the entrance is a small temple with Deities of Radha-Radhakanta (Krishna) and Lalita and Vishaka. Radhakanta was worshiped by Gopalaguru Goswami, the disciple of Vakreswara Pandit. On the far right is a deity of Sri Chaitanya, and on the far left is Nityananda. This house was once the residence of Kasi Misra. You can look through a small barred window into the room called Sri Gambhira. This is the room where Sri Chaitanya lived. There is a lamp here that is never extinguished. You can see Sri Chaitanya’s original wooden sandals, his quilt, water pot, and bed. Sri Chaitanya lived in this room for twelve years. On a marble throne, a statue of Sri Chaitanya is encircled by a cloth, so that just his face is visible. Upstairs there are dioramas depicting Sri Chaitanya’s life.
Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya’s House This house is about 1km south of the Simha-dwara (main gate) of the Jagannath Temple. If you walk out of the Jagannath Temple, turn right and follow the road toward Swarga Dwara (the ocean). Pass the first right, which circles the temple, and walk about another 100m.
Make the next right to Sweta Ganga Tank. Sarvabhauma’s house, better known as Gangamata Math, is on the left. There are Radha-Krishna Deities called Radha-Rasikaraja in this house, said to have been worshiped by Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. Inside there are paintings of devotional scenes all over the walls.
Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura’s Birthplace This place is located about 1km from the Jagannath Temple on Grand Road. There is a Gaudiya Math temple here, with Jagannath Deities and a murti of Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja. There are also murtis of the heads of the four Vaishnava sampradayas—Vishnuswami, Madhvacarya, Nimbarka, and Ramanuja.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati was a highly influential preacher of Gaudiya Vaishnavism throughout India in the late 19th and early 20th Century. He was born as Bimala-prasad Dutta in the pilgrimage town of Jagannatha Puri, Orissa, India. His father was the Vaishnava scholar Sri Kedarnatha Dutta (also known as Bhaktivinoda Thakura) the first to present the teachings of Chaitanyite Vaishnavism to the English-speaking world and was a notable Gaudiya Vaishnava Theologian. Bimala Prasada was well known for having a fiery spirit, an acute intellect and for living a simple, austere lifestyle.
Jagannath Vallabha Gardens Sri Chaitanya used to meet here with Ramananda Raya. Ramananda Raya used to train girls here to dance for Lord Jagannath’s pleasure. This place is about 1km from the Jagannath Temple on Grand Road. Non-Hindus are not permitted to enter the temple, but are allowed to walk around the gardens. There is a small lake here.
Tota Gopinath Temple
Gaudiya Vaishnavas accept that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ended his manifested pastimes in Puri by entering into the knee of the Tota Gopinath Deity. On the far left altar are Lord Balarama and his two wives, Revati and Varuni. On the middle altar is Tota Gopinath, accompanied by black deities of Radha and Lalita. Tota Gopinath is in a sitting position. If you come in the morning around 7 am, you can give a donation to see the golden streak on his knee into which Sri Chaitanya entered. On the right altar are the Deities of Radha-Madana Mohan and Gaura Gadadhar. Sri Gadadhar used to worship Tota Gopinath regularly. This temple is located by a large, white water tower in the Gaurbat Sahi area. It is a five-minute walk from the Chatak Parbat Purushottam Gaudiya Math temple. It is a fifteen-minute walk from Haridasa Thakura’s Samadhi. Chatak Parbat Gaudiya Math This temple is in the area where Sri Chaitanya mistook the sand dune hills to be Govardhan Hill.
The bhajan-kutir of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja is here, as well as his bed. There is a murti of Veda-Vyasa in the bhajan-kutir. This temple is near a large white water tower, about a ten-minute walk from Haridasa Thakura’s samadhi. It is a five-minute walk from Tota Gopinath Temple. Radha Syamasundara Temple If you ask the devotees at the ISKCON temple they can direct you to the Jagadananda Math. Across the road from the Radha Giridhari Temple, where Jagadananda broke the pot of sandalwood oil is the Radha Syamasundara Deities of Brahmananda Bharati. You may have to ask at the Radha Giridhari Temple to be shown where these Deities are located.
This is a large tank where the boat festival called Chandana-yatra is held during which Lord Jagannath goes for a boat ride. Since Lord Jagannath is very heavy, the vijaya vigraha (festival Deity), known as Govinda, rides in the boat. Sri Chaitanya and his devotees took part in this festival. There is a small temple on an island about 30m (100 ft) into the tank, with Deities of Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subhadra. It is located off Grand Road, on the same side as the Jagannath Temple.
To take a picture of the temple in the middle of the tank, you are expected to pay a Rs 5 fee. If you take a picture without paying the fee, a priest will insistently demand payment.
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