Date of journey: 07/12/2007
Starting from: Bhilai
Crew: Maneesh, Dr. Sharma, Pawan.
After the trip to Rajim we had to catch a train as we decided to go to Puri. There are a lot of options to go to Puri from Bhilai, you can pick a bus and also there are many trains. But at that time I got a reservation only from Raipur to Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Orissa in Intercity express. We started from Bhilai on a local train at about 2 pm in the afternoon and reached Raipur at 4.30 pm. Then at 5 o’ clock we got into the Intercity express. After a full night in the train we arrived Bhubaneswar in the morning. From Bhubaneswar we got in to a bus, which took us to Puri. Puri is about 60 kms. from Bhubaneswar but it took a couple of hours as it was a private bus and it stopped many times. In the Puri bus stop I met a guy Prabhakar who told me about a nearby hotel and he also told about the tourist buses. We went to the Jagdish hotel prescribed by him. It was a nice and cheap hotel near to the temple and I got a double room for just Rs. 350 per day. Prabhakar also asked if we are interested for the tourist bus on the next day. I gave him Rs. 50 advance and booked three tickets of the bus, which will take us to the Konark Temple and beaches on the next day. After having a shower we went to the see the famous Sri Jagannath temple. “Jagat” means “universe” and “natha” is “master”. It was lunch time so I told that we can have lunch but my brother told that we can have the mahaprasad in the temple. The Mahaprasad (offering) of Lord Jagannath, the presiding deity is world famous. While the offerings for the deities in other temples in India are called prasad, those made for Jagannath are called Mahaprasad. We agreed and decided to go the temple. The name “Jagannath” (Lord of the Universe) is invariably a collective representation of the Triad (Jagannath – Balabhadra – Subhadra) and has been in use since the dawn of the last millennium. I took this picture from outside the temple, as camera is not allowed inside the temple. This gate is known as the Lion Gate. In this picture you can see the Aruna Stamba(monolithic pillar) which is 34 ft. high and one single stone pillar. This pillar was originally in the front of the Konark Temple, brought to Puri by Marathas in 17th century AD:
We deposited our cell phones and the camera in a temple facility and also the shoes outside the temple. If you carry bags, it will be thoroughly checked by the security ouside the temple. Just near the temple we found a guide, he told that “just give me whatever you wish and I will show you the whole temple”. My brother had visited Puri many times and he told that we should be beware of thugs but I trusted that person as he looked genuine. There was a long queue to see the glimpse of the Lord Jagannatha. That person took us from the smallest route. After the darshan(to see with reverence and devotion) he showed us a place where the employees of the temple were carrying the Mahaprasad from the kitchen to offer it to the Lord. After the offering it is served to the people. After that, I told my guide that we will see the rest of the temple by ourselves and I gave him Rs. 20 for his services. He told that we should take the prasad from the place, which he will show, but I said that we would do that by ourselves. Then, we moved to see a museum inside the temple. There is an entry ticket of Rs. 2 and you can see various hand made idols in the museum. After that we went to the kitchen to have a glimpse of how Mahaprasad is prepared. There is a ticket of Rs. 3 for that but they will not allow you to go inside the kitchen, you can have a look from outside. The temple kitchen is said to be the biggest in the world feeding thousands of devotees daily with, its holy food called the Mahaprasad. It is said that there are 6,000 priests and about 14,000 employees in the temple. It was 4 pm and I was eagerly waiting for the Mahaprasad as I was very hungry. Every day Fifty-six varieties of dishes are prepared and offered to the deities, which are then available here for the public. There are shops in Ananda Bazar or the Pleasure Mart inside the temple from where you can buy it. Ananda Bazar is the biggest open-air hotel in the world where every day thousands of devotees purchase and eat together forgetting their caste, creed and status. After some time the employees of the temple brought it in huge earthen pots. Then, it is transferred in to small earthen pots and sold to the public. We got three of those and we ate it in banana leaves. It contained rice, dal, vegetable and kheer(a rice pudding typically made by boiling rice with milk and sugar). It was the tastiest meal I ever had in my life. Mahaprasad is cooked only in earthen pots and medium of food is firewood only. You can also take dry confectionaries from Ananda Bazar, which are prepared of sugar, gur, wheat flour, ghee, milk and cheese. The tourists also prefer to carry a particular type of dry Mahaprasad known as “Khaja” (made of maida, sugar and ghee), which stays fresh for days together. I took two packets of dry confectionaries for Rs. 100. Then, we went to see the Koila Vaikuntha, which is in the western portion of the temple between the outer and inner walls. There was a priest, which told us that during Nava-kalevara (new incarnation ceremony), when Lord Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subhadra are newly carved, the old images are buried in this place. Deities are made from wood, each 12 years Nava-kalevara-yatra (or ritual of transformation) is hold. After elaborate preliminary preparations, the right trees are found, Deities carved, transformation made and old Deities buried in the ground. Last rites were done in 1996. Though as much as half million people attend the festival, most of the procedures are conducted in secret and no other than few appointed priests and servants can be present. Then, my brother told that you must see how a person changes the flag at the top of the temple. There is a wheel on top of the Jagannath Temple made of an alloy of eight different metals known as ‘Asta – Dhatu’. It is known as the ‘Nila Chakra’ (blue wheel). It is 11 feet 8 inches high and has a circumference of about 36 feet. A flag is tied every day on a mast attached to the Nila Chakra. Around 6.30 pm we saw a man climbing to the top of the temple. The height of the temple is 215 feet 8 inches and he was climbing very fast. He reached to the top and changed the flag. It was an amazing thing as he did not use any of the climbing gadgets. We stayed in the temple till 8 pm and then went to our hotel room. I was very thrilled by the things, which I saw that day and I had a long chat with my brother and father. It was a great experience to see something like that and I felt quite lucky to have a glimpse of the Lord. Then, after dinner we went for the sleep, as we needed to get up early in the morning to see the Konark temple and other places.
For more photos of Sri Jagannath temple, click here