Puri Travel Guide: A spiritual city as one call it, Puri is an important city of Odisha that pulls throngs of tourists each year. An ultimate holiday spot of India that induce its guests to have lots of fun, enjoy the cool breeze of the gorgeous Puri beach and to get mesmerized with the beautiful sand art and creations of Odisha.
Popularly known as Sriksketra which means the abode of Lord Jagganath, Puri is also considered one of the four divine sites or the chaar dhaam yatra.
It might look like any old city with traffic to bear with, narrow streets to walk in with everyday hustle-bustle. However, the city still has so much to offer that one may wish to travel here again and again. Always flooded by travel lovers, this city will fascinate any age group of tourists ranging from spiritual individuals to young folks to laze around.
I being a native of Odisha, have explored most of the parts of Puri and Bhubaneswar and would not want you to pick a few places and travel. However, if I have to suggest a quick short trip to Puri, then these 5 places are my all-time favorites and worth to visit.
#1 MYSTICAL JAGGANATH TEMPLE
Photo credits@ Mona Ashutosh
To begin with, simply go and visit the gorgeous Jagganath Temple or Sri Mandir (alternate name of Jagganath temple). The temple is an important sacred destination for the Hindu pilgrims and is believed to be visited at least once before we tend to leave our souls. However, if you are not a God gaga (loving) person, the beautiful architecture of the temple can surely allure you to pay a visit.
One may take pleasure in enjoying the scrumptious Mahaprasad easily available within the temple that may be a huge no to miss for.
A word of caution may be, to stay away from the Pandas (the temple pandits) as sometimes they demand money in the name of certain puja or Abhishek. However, if you are in a hurry and intends for a quick darshan, then shelling out a note of 100 to these pandas can really save your time.
Good To Know Facts
Timings of the Temple: The temple opens at 5:30 in the morning and closes around 1:30 in the noon. It again gets open for the visitors around 4-4:30 pm and shuts at 10 pm.
Entry Restrictions and Security: Due to security reasons cameras and mobile phones are not allowed within the temple and can be kept in the lockers available outside the Jagganath temple.
Unfortunately, the entry within the temple is restricted for the non-Hindu guests and discourages any inappropriate clothing. As per an old belief the Lord Jagganath, do not believe in such biased behavior and thus comes out once in a year together with his brother Lord Balbhadra and sister Goddess Subadhra to meet all his devotees not caring of which caste or religion they belong to.
This is popularly known as Ratha Yatra and takes place once in a year in the month of July and is not something one can afford to miss. To know more about the mysteries of this wonderful temple, please refer to this link.
#2 PRISTINE PURI BEACH
Photo credits@ Mona Ashutosh
After the enchanting experience of visiting Jagganath Puri Temple, one must head towards the popular Puri beach. Crowded yet so pristine, the beach and its lovely waves welcome each of its tourists with open arms.
A stunning place to get cozy holding a cup of tea, the beach has several fun avenues that may interest its guests. An ideal holiday destination to slow down and to bring the child out of you. Yes! that is the Puri beach all about.
A one-stop holiday destination with things to shop around, street food to die for and to go for a relaxing swim. Also, a special mention for the delicious food one gets to see here.
It won’t be wrong to say that there can’t be any better place for a lip-smacking seafood feast other than the Puri beach. If you wish to read more about this marvelous beach, then please check out our Puri beach guide.
#3 GARDEN HOUSE OF GUNDICHA TEMPLE
Just at a distance of 5-10 minutes (3 km approximately) from the Jagganath Temple, Gundicha temple is known as the garden house of Lord Jagganath. The temple could be found vacant most of the time of the year except the times of Ratha Yatra or the Chariot Festival.
Lord Jagganath is accompanied by his brother Lord Balabhadra and Maa Subadhra and stays for 9 days in this temple during the Ratha Yatra fest. The temple flaunts the beautiful Kalinga style architecture, peaceful garden and will surely amaze you with its mesmerizing stone carvings. Unlike, Jagganath Temple, this temple is open for all its guests.
#4 SUN TEMPLE OF KONARK
No matter how to crunch you are with your time, a visit to the Konark temple is a must. The temple is such a beautiful piece of art that will amaze you with its beautiful carvings depicting the dancers, musicians and erotic sex positions too on these strong walls. This marvelous building is also known as the World Heritage Site and has many gorgeous pieces of art to leave you awestruck.
Currently, The Konark annual festival is on which is held every year in the month of December. One will get to enjoy the performances by some of the acclaimed classical dancers and beautiful handicrafts to shop for. Please refer to this link to know more about this absolute masterpiece which highlights the beautiful style of Indian architecture.
SHOPPING PARADISE OF PURI – PIPLI
Pipili is a small village that comes on the route while traveling from Konark to Puri. One may notice colorful lamps and other gorgeous handicrafts hanging outside the shops which can get irresistible to shop.
It feels so good to see the combined efforts of the artists, art lovers and the government for bringing these beautiful creations under one roof giving the art & culture a new life. One may for sure use their bargaining skills however most of the available products are handmade thus keeping their hard work in mind would be a good idea before any haggle.
The shops have a great collection of stuff, starting from paintings depicting scenes from Geeta or Mahabharata to vibrant cloth lamps. A wall hanging which is known as Chandua in Odia, mainly with applique work on a piece of cotton cloth is very popular across Odisha and can be easily available in this village at a throwaway price. So, don’t forget to take a halt at this wonderful place for a memorable shopping experience.
PURI’S ART & CULTURE
Puri city boasting about its art & culture can only make you think, how beautifully the city has kept them preserved. Once in a lifetime experience could be watching the Odisha dancers perform so gracefully right on the shore of the Puri beach.
And if you think that is overwhelming then the gorgeous sand art right on the seashore can leave you spellbound for sure.
PURI’S DELICIOUS DELICACIES
Due to its coastal location, the city offers an amazing spread of seafood delicacies for non-veg lovers. The mustard gravy fish curries and the mutton kassa (a red meat delicacy) stands out the list and are all-time favorites of the Odia folks. The delicious prawn and crab curries are also fun to be explored.
The city also has a huge population those prefer veg foods over non-veg so one must try some of the street foods like alu dum dahi bara, papdi chaats and gupchups (golgappas).
I may sound a little biased here, but the golgappas here are to die for. Alternatively, one may try their hands on typical Odia thali that consist of dahi baigan, dalma (a kind of dal with mixed vegetables), saga (green veggie), rice, roti, badi chura, khatta (made mainly of tomatoes or mango or dates) and besara (dish prepared with a mix of vegetables in mustard gravy).
To end with, one must relish the delicious sweets like chena poda, rosagulla (let’s not get into the debate of who invented rosagulla, whether the Odias or the Bengalis. Let’s just enjoy the sweet), chena jhilli and malpua to name a few.
HOW TO REACH
One could fly down to the capital city of Odisha and then can enjoy a road journey by either hiring a taxi or driving down from Bhubaneswar to Puri in just 1.5 hours time.
Alternatively, the Puri railway station is merely 2.5 km away from the beach. Other means of transport including bus, auto, cycle-rickshaw, and taxies are easily available in the city and can be used to roam around the city.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The heavy rainfall during Monsoons and the hot and humid weather of Summers may not be preferable for a visit so, I would suggest you visit this exquisite city anytime between August to March. However, if you do not want to miss the Ratha Yatra fest, then the month of July would be good for you.
Since the year is about to end and the Christmas holidays are approaching, it would be a great idea to pack your bag and plan a trip to our Incredible Puri. Enjoy your holiday and do share your experiences with us.
Puri, being the most popular city in Odisha has a plethora of hotels, resorts and guest rooms available near and around the Puri beach. One could choose based on their comfort and budget.
A city that is known for its religious shrine, gorgeous beaches, and art & culture, is the most visited places of Odisha and had drawn around 84,658 foreign tourists last year (2017). Often mentioned as Mauritius for Bengalis, it is a beautiful city of Eastern India and is full of wonders.
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