The ancient land of Lord Jagannatha, Puri is amongst the most popular pilgrimage destinations of the country. Being one of the sacred ‘Char Dham’ pilgrimage sites, Puri is dotted with several old temples that carry great religious, historical and architectural value. Historically known as “Sri Kshetra”, the wealthy land was invaded 18 times by Hindu and Muslim rulers who desired the temple’s treasures. Even in this 21st century, the economy of this religious town mostly depends on the activities surrounding the 12th-century old Jagannatha Temple. Most tourists visit Puri during its vibrant festivals, especially RathaYatra (Chariot festival).
Along with the temples, the neighborhood also has some picturesque beaches that are perfect for an evening away from the crowded life. The artistic land of Odisha has given birth to skilled artisans who master in Sand art, applique art, stone and wood cravings, and Pattachitra paintings. To ensure our readers the utmost experience of this limitless beauty, we have cumulated a list of 12 famous places to see in and around Puri that will serve you as a mini Puri tourism guide.
Constructed almost a millennium ago, PuriJagannath Temple holds a great religious value amongst the Hindus as a part of the sacred Char Dham pilgrimage sites. Built on a high pedestal, the richly carved temple structure stands protected with four majestic gates. The architectural wonder is also home to many scientifically unexplained miracles. Respecting the ancient Indian belief of never sending a visitor back with an empty stomach, Prasadam is prepared with centuries old, preserved recipes and the food here is never wasted. The annual RathaYatra draws in millions of devotees who travel miles to see the deities roam around the temple surroundings in Chariots.
The golden sand beach on the east coast of Bay of Bengal is a silent paradise for nature seekers. Situated very close to Jagannath Temple and other well-known temples of Puri, the beach receives a good number of visitors throughout the year. A great number of accommodation options and the availability of a large variety of food items make this beach an apt destination to enjoy a perfect vacation with your family and friends. This sun kissed beach is also a popular choice among the honeymooners who stroll along the breezy shore and enjoy watching the beautiful sunrises and sunsets together.
Markandeswara Temple is believed to be the holy place where sage Markandeya meditated on Lord Shiva as a child. The 13th century old temple welcomes the devotees with a sculpture of Lord Nataraja with ten hands and as one explores further, they will come face to face with various figures of Lord Shiva in all his forms and also many idols of Goddess Parvathi and Lord Ganesha. The stunning architectural and artistic beauty of the temple attracts tourists from all over the globe. Being located very close to PuriJagannath Temple, the devotees almost never leave town without visiting both these ancient temples.
Enclosed with numerous shrines, this 15th century AD tank is one of the largest tanks of Odisha. At just 2 Km from Jagannath Temple, the tank provides various Ghats where devotees can take holy baths. The renowned tank is also the place where deities are floated upon pristine water and plenty of rituals are performed during the Chandana Yatra festival. At the center of the large tank is a beautiful, small temple called Chandana Mandapa.
A true delight for the history and art buffs, the Sudarshan Crafts Museum in Puri was established by Sri Sudarshan Sahoo with an intention to convey to the curious ones the evolution of craftsmanship. The growth in style of sculpting has been explained here with traditional sculptures. The museum offers utmost support to the artists by providing to them a workspace and a gallery to display their art. The museum is open between 8 am to 8 pm and the entry fee starts from Rs. 5. For every art lover, this museum is among the top places to see when in Puri or near Bhubaneswara.
A popular pilgrimage destination near the capital city of Odisha – Bhubaneswar, Konark is well-known for its 7th century old Sun Temple. Following Odisha’s medieval architectural style, the architectural marvel consists of sculptures of the sun god, represented in three different images and positioned in three different directions to precisely capture the rays of the sun during mornings, afternoons and evenings. The massive temple is structured in the form of a chariot, dedicated to the Sun god. Located on the shores of Bay of Bengal at just 35 Km from Puri, Konark is an excellent option to enjoy a silent holiday on the secluded beaches and awe at the exquisiteness of the historical temples.
At around 36 Km from Puri, Pipili is an artistic town of Odisha and is unquestionably a top attraction of the state. The town was built to shelter the practitioners and preserve Odisha’s heritage art form – Applique handicrafts. Artisans here gather colorful fabrics and stich upon them to make various designer garments and hangings. The livelihood of most families in the town depends on this art form. The artists create excellent handicrafts, appliqued handbags and purses, pillow covers, bed sheets and many other things and export the products to different countries around the world.
A miniature version of Jagannath Temple, Sakhigopal Temple is situated at about 18 Km from Puri. A pilgrimage to this temple is often combined with a visit to Jagannath Temple as the trip is believed to be incomplete without it. The famous religious site is eminent for its life size figure of Lord Krishna playing a flute alongside his favorite lover – Radha. The Lord Krishna’s idol here is made up of a rare kind of imperishable stone called Braja. An annual festival called AmlaNavami is celebrated here with all its grandiosity in the month of Karthika.
If you’re anywhere near Puri, Bhubaneswar, or just anywhere in Odisha, you cannot leave without visiting Chilika Lake. Among the best tourist destinations in the state, Chilika Lake is a salty water lagoon at the tip of Daya River that flows into Bay of Bengal.
Situated at just 70 Km from Puri and 61 Km from Bhubaneswar, Chilika Lake provides sustenance to fishermen familiesfrom around 132 villages on the shores or islands surrounding the lake. During the migratory seasons, as far as 160 species of birds flock around the lake. The rich eco-biodiversity of the lake has also made it home to Irrawaddy dolphins which can be spotted on the Satpada islands. If your ideal vacation involves breathing fresh air whilst listening to the sweet chirping of birds and watching the graceful dance of dolphins, Chilika Lake is where you should be.
The capital city of the culturally rich state of Odisha is an ancient city which strives towards development amidst the remains of a bygone primeval era. Located at just 62 Km from Puri, the prominent business center is among the fastest growing cities of the country, and was designed by a German architect called Otto Königsberger. As you tour along the city, the glorious flair of Kalinga architecture unveils before one’s eyes. Historically praised as the ‘City of Temples’, Bhubaneswar has plenty of tourist destinations in and around the city. Some of these include Lingaraj Temple, Rajarani Temple, Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, Dhauli Shanti Stupa and others.
Odisha’s first heritage craft Village – Raghurajpur Village is hardly around 10 Km from Puri and it is the one place in the state that you shouldn’t afford to miss. Even though the village displays crafts such as palm leaf engravings, stone and wood carvings, Tussar paintings and wooden masks, it is widely known for Pattachitra – a 5th century art form based on narrative painting. The artisans hold out scrolls that they’ve painted on with natural colors and narrate the significance of the stories in the paintings in a sing song manner. About 120 such artisan families reside in the village. The best time to visit Raghurajpur Artist Village is during its annual spring festival, BasantUtsav – ParamparaRaghurajpur.
As the name so poetically suggests, Astaranga (colorful sunset) is indeed a beautiful spot to capture the different shades of the calm sun setting into a restless sea. Many photographers crowd along the shore during sunsets and many artists sit staring into the sea, looking for inspiration. The family-friendly beach is also a great place to indulge in bird watching and admire the beauty in turtles nestling. A specialty near the beach is the shrine of PirJahania. It is one of the very few holy places in India that is visited by both Hindus and Muslims.
At 67 Km from Puri, Astaranga is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Odisha. Yet, as there are no accommodations available near the beach, one will have to find a place to stay in Puri, Bhubaneshwar or Konark.
Alongside these destinations, Puri is surrounded with various other historic, ancient temples such as Lokanath Temple, Lakshmi Temple, Ganesha Temple, and some offbeat picturesque beaches such as Baliharachandi Beach, Baleshwar Beach and others.
Visit Puri to rediscover your spirituality and refresh your mind!
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