Puri, the coastal district of Odisha, occupies a distinct place in the tourist map of India. The city is world famous for the Lord Jagannath Temple and the Car festival. The place is famous for its temples, culture, beach & the almighty god, Lord Shri Jagannath. People from al round the world come here to have a look of the famous Dhama. The district boasts of a continuous history from the 3rd Century B.C. to the present day. The district is known for the unique monuments like those of Lord Jagannath temple at Puri and the Sun God at Konark and the Chilika Lake, a brackish water lagoon, which is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the world. It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent and the lake is home to a large number of threatened species of plants and animals. It is due to its geographical location the district enjoys equable climate through out the year.
Puri, the abode of Vishnu as Jagannath which contributed the word “Juggernaut” to the English language, represents its integrated individuality as its cultural heritage, a unique blend of claims of time and eternity with a power answerable only to wisdom. Puri’s compendious heritage has been representing that spark of immortality that the Oriyas and the Indians have own against the powers of negation, through a spirit of university, adaptability, and an astute mixture of the present which no other culture can aspire to explain as its self justification. The name of the Lord as Purusottama (perfection personified) or as Jagannath (Lord of Universe) represents a universality in true with the familiar fraternity of mankind (Vasudheva Kutumbakam). Adi Shankaracharya visited Puri, set up the Gobardhan Matha (monastery) as the exception from his other three mathas as a Vaishnavite, defined Jagannath as the Supreme one. It is thus not only one of the four Dhams (Holy Places) for Hindus but the most pious and sacred place.
The Quintessential characteristic of its culture and philosophy has made it from Pan-Indian to Pan-Continental. The Car- Festival of Shri Lord Jagannath now not limited to Puri or Orissa rather it is celebrated in global scale, the reverberation echoes of which are heard from Los Angeles to Piccadilly from Heidelberg to Tokyo.
The Jagannath culture is not only pre-dominated in Puri but it is global. Its universalaffirmation is secular diffusion of such an attitude is futuristic. It calls for unity in diversity is an age of diverse perversity. The consecration of all the empire by Gajapati of Puri. Kapilendra Deva to Lord Jagannath, the lord emerging as “Istadeva” and “Rastradevata” and rolled down the centuries as the crest of nationalism which found Madhusudan Das (the eminent barrister of British era ) in 1928 to cry out ‘serve us, Lord Jagannath’. The dazzle of Koh-I-Noor originally gifted to Lord Jagannath, the Hum of devotional “Janana” (non-bhajan), the cries of Chandan Hajuri (the chief warier of Maharani Laxmibai) and ‘the Mahaprasad brotherhood’ have been unifying forces and symbols of national unity.
The evolution of Odissi dance and music out of the Devadasi-institution still enchants all with its mystic rhythm. The Orissan School of architecture emerging from here is a poetry frozen in stone. The Patta-paintings and appliqué work are a craze in the west, particularly in U.S.A. of today. The Shell-craft of Puri have a major appeal.
It is thus here at Puri that the pattern of a Pan-Indian, (nay, global) culture of tomorrow is on the anvil. People are individual atoms ever contributing their properties to the “matter” of Jagannath Dharma without consciousness of mutual distinctions. Puri belongs to humanity, the seat of an eternal education, the bridge that gulfs the past and the future and the blending of diverse impulses for a single embodiment in the march of all fulfilling time.
Temples and sanctuaries, beaches and glorious lakes, colorful, vibrant and the numerous festivals for every reason and for every season that can take on a “Jagannath-like momentum”.
The whole of the district may be divided into two dissimilar natural divisions the littoral tract & the level alluvial tract.
- The littoral Tract:
The strip of the country lies between the alluvial and the Bay of Bengal. It assumes the form of a bear but sandy ridge which stretches along the sea- shore for the full length of the District, Varying from 6.5 Km. to a few hundred meters in with . Accumulations of wind blown sand give rise to ridges parallel to the coast. It forms the dividing line between the Chilika Lake and the ocean.
- The Level Alluvial Tract:
This level of alluvial region is full of villages and rice fields, , watered by a network of channels, through which the water of distributaries of the most southerly branch of Mahanadi , find their way to the sea. There is no hill in Puri District except a small cultivate land are under plough. Generally, biali or autumn rice, Sarada or winter rice and Dalua or spring rice these three types of rice are cultivated.
- Sea-coast Bays:
The length of the sea-coast of the district of Puri is nearly 150.4 km. Sandy ridges are found along the sea-coast which stretch into the district Jagatsingpur and Ganjam. One such sandy spit divides the lake Chilika from Bay of Bengal. These sandy ridges and dunes are formed by the strong monsoon currents which blow over the country for nearly 8 months of the year. The ridges vary from about 7 km to a few meters in width and have prevented most of the rivers of the district from finding their way into the Ocean.
- River system:
All the rivers of Puri district have a common characteristic. In the hot weather they are beds of sand with tiny streams or none at all, while in the rains they receive more water than they can carry .Generally all rivers are distributaries of Mahanadi River.
- The littoral Tract:
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Puri is very well connected with both road & rail transport. The nearest airport available from here is Bhubaneswar i.e. 60 kilometers away from here.
- Railways:Railway facility is available from Puri and to Puri from all major cities, towns and areas (inside the state as well as outside states).
- Roadways:The district is well connected with all the important places of the state as well as outside states.
- Airways:Bhubaneswar airport is the nearest and reachable airport from the district.
Where to stay?
There are a number of hotels, lodges, dharmashalas and youth hostel and Panthnivas, most of them along the beach.There are number of hotels (including five star hotels) available in Puri for a good stay.
Puri celebrates many festivals including Ratha Yatra, Puri Beach Festival, Bahuda yatra, Ganesh Puja, Jhulana Yatra among many others.
One can also say that Puri is a shopper’s paradise. It is because one can get a whole lot of products at an affordable price. Another noteworthy feature of markets in Puri, where one can shop, is that they are scattered all across the holy city so that one can shop at any place of their choice.One of the most important cottage industries in Puri includes the textile manufacturers. Kotki, Bomkai and several other traditional saris and dress materials, in silk and cotton, are renowned all over the country. Applique work of Puri is also reminiscent of the temple art where small pieces of colored clothes and tiny mirrors are shaped and stitched together in various motives. These make wonderful umbrellas, canopies, bags, lamp shades, wall hangings and other utility items.