Located on the eastern coastline of the country, Puri is most well recognized as a significant Hindu pilgrimage centre. The Jagannath Temple, one of the four most important Hindu pilgrimage sites or the chardham is sited here. Also, Puri's wonderfully wide white-sand beaches, fishing farms and superb resorts make it an inviting traveller endpoint. The surf on the beaches here is one of the best on the entire eastern coastline of India, and dawn is a breath-taking sight. Visiting the Lord Jagannath temple, walking on the beach and feeling the beauty of the sunrise and sunset are probably some of the best things to do in Puri. The traditional methods of fishing used by the local fishermen are of interest, as is visiting nearby historic sites to garner a sense of the city's history and the lifestyle of the locals.
Puri has a typical tropical climate and is best visited during the winters between Octobers to April after the monsoon. Light woollens may be necessary, for nights by the sea can be slightly chilly.
Puri has a number of religious and cultural traveller destinations, as well as interesting daytrip sites nearby.
The magnificent Jagannath temple is considered as one of the Chardhams (four pilgrimage sites) of Hindu religion, which are located on all the four corners of the country. This temple is regarded as the Dham of eastern India. Devoted to the Lord of the Universe (Jag-universe/ Nath-lord), it was built during the 11th century. One of the tallest (66 m) temples of India, this temple dominates the skyline and the townscape of Puri.
The Gundicha Ghar or Gundicha temple is a significant part of the well-known Rath Yatra festival of Puri. It has some interesting legends related to it. According to one the Gundicha Ghar is the house of Lord Krishna's loving aunt. On the day of the Rath Yatra, Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are taken in gorgeously caparisoned wooden rath (chariots) from the main gate of the Jagannath temple to Gundicha temple. At the garden house, their aunt welcomes them by feeding them padoapitha (specially baked rice cakes). This place is regarded as equally holy as Lord stays here for nine days during the festival.
Puri's white sand beaches are well recognized all over the country. They are possibly the only walk able beaches on the eastern coastline that are carpeted with clean white sand. It is also worthwhile to request the local fishermen for a boat ride into the sea.
Chilka Lake of shimmering blue waters and the playfully jumping fish is the largest fresh water lake in Asia and is also called the 'honeymooners paradise' and 'breakfast island'.
The hamlet of Raghurajpur is well-known for the patta chitra (paintings done on specially prepared cotton cloth which is coated with a mixture of gum and chalk and polished, before natural colors are applied) art of Orissa. You can lookout the traditional, intricate process, which goes into the making of a treasured patta chitra here.
The sixty odd caves of 1nd century BC caves set in the Udaygiri-Khandagiri hills with their ornate carvings and delicate friezes are major traveller fascinations.
Rail: The Puri railway station is a major railway station having links with several of the significant cities in India. The railway station is accessible from the main town area by almost all the modes of local transport.
Air: Puri can be reached by air at its nearest airport in Bhubaneswar, which is 60 km away.
Once every year, in the months of June-July the famous Rath Yatra or car festival is held at Puri. It rejoices Lord Jagannath's legendary return to his kingdom on earth. The beach festival is famous in the later part of March or early April, and showcases the best of Orissa's folk and classical dance forms, music and handicrafts. Nava Kalebara is a local festival of an immensely significant religious ritual, when the three temple deities Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra change their external forms. New idols are carved out of specially sanctified sandalwood trees, following certain regulations.
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