Odisha is known as Lord Jagannath ‘s Land (which literally means the Lord of the Universe). Established in the 12th century AD, the temple was the epicenter of Jagannath cults and saw pilgrims flocking the temple town of Puri throughout the year from all over the world.
The mysticism found in Lord Jagannath’s cult overshadows the architectural beauty of this magnificent temple. The colossal temple, constructed on a elevated platform, is an architectural wonder in its own right.
The temple saw new changes to its construction until about the 16th Century AD. Unlike other temples in the area, the temple carvings are mainly of gods and goddesses. Within two concentric walls, the Kuruma Bheda (Inner Wall) and the Meghnad Pachira (Wall), the whole temple complex is enclosed.The main entrance to the temple is via Singhadwara situated on the temple ‘s eastern face, with three additional entrances along the four cardinal directions. These are however not architecturally related, suggesting that the other entrances may have been built for defensive purposes because the temple was at the eye of the storm during the turbulent time between the 16th and 18th centuries.
Some of the architectural feats of the temple
The main temple is built in such a way that no temple shadow falls to the ground at any time of the day.
The Nilachakra – Or the Blue wheel perched above the temple is constructed from eight metals or asta dhatu. If you see the Nilachakra it’s believed to be as pleasant as seeing the Lord himself.
The flag or the Patitapabana flies in the opposite direction of the wind and is changed at sunset every day and is changed regularly. The foot of changing the flag lies on a family named by the King. For more than 800 years, they have been doing this practice, ascending 165 metres, bare feet without any support.
The Mahaprasad, or the offering to the Lord, is prepared by wood charcoal on fire, and rice and vegetables, cereals, etc. are arranged in earthen pots and on top of each other on the flames. The pot first cooks on top.
The Aruna stambha- the 33 ft monolith framework pillar in front of the Singhadwar, or the temple’s main entrance, was originally located at Konark’s Sun Temple.
Another special characteristic of the temple is that it carves the idols of the Holy Trinity out of wood instead of stone or metal idols. Often they are the only god with death trappings.
There are many Lord related festivals and rituals, we list a few.
Devasnana Purnima – the annual rite of bathing, where the holy trinity carried forth from their sanctuary sitting on an elevated platform and bathed with filtered water drawn from a well inside the temple premises.
Chariot Festival – This occurs in June / July. The Lord comes out into the street during the festival to welcome his devotees, people will seek his blessings regardless of caste , religion & colour.