Jagannath temple is situated in Puri, Orissa, India. It is one of the most popular temples for Hindus. The Jagannath temple is dedicated to lord Jagannath, Balaram and Shubhadra.it falls under the “Char Dham”. The deities are well decorated and big in sizes. A huge festival occurs yearly at the time of Ratha Yatra when lord Jagannath is considered to be moved from own home to maternal home for a week and after that he returns to the temple again. Jagannath temple is very popular pilgrimage destination for religious Hindu worshippers. The temple was constructed in 12th century after it was ruined by east Ganga dynasty. The Ratha yatra is held by keeping the deities on the well decorated temple cars. The temple culture is associated with holy Vaishnava traditions.
The deities lie on the Ratnavedi inside the sanctum. There are three shrines that are worshipped in this Jagannath temple one is of Jagannath, one is of Balabhadra and the other is of Shubhadra. Besides them there are some other deities like one Sudarshan Chakra, deities of Madanmohan and Sridevi on the Ratnavedi. The reconstruction of the Jagannath temple was initiated by the kings of Kalinga. Jagannath has been worshipped here since the year 1558.
The legend says that Jagannath was worshipped initially as Leela Madhaba by Viswavasu. The legendary stories are found in Bramha Purana, Skanda Purana and other Puranas. The king Indradyumna sent Vidypati to locate the place of Viswavasu but he failed to locate the secret place in forest. Later on he was able to find out the cave of the deity. He informed the king to visit. Immediately the king appeared to the cave to worship the deity the shrine disappeared. The king was not ready to return without a Darshan. After that he created a temple of Narashimha. He had a dream of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra with Sudarshan chakra. The deities were made by wood as per his dream. Later on the king invited Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma was very pleased by his prayer and the king wished after him to be the last member of his family.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh donated a huge amount of gold to this Jagannath temple. He ordered to donate Kohinoor diamond to this Jagannath temple also. But Kohinoor could not make its way to Jagannath temple because of the British rulers who took Kohinoor to their country and now it is located on the tower of London.
This Jagannath temple has four entrances in all four directions. Only the people of Hindu religion are able to have a Darshan of Jagannath. The Hindus of non Indian origin or the community other than hindu, Buddhist and Jains are strictly prohibited from Darshan of deities. The Jagannath temple remains open from dawn to midnight. The devotees do the Parikraman behind the deities. During Sahana mela they are allowed to go right up to the shrine without any fee. The devotees can do parimanik Darshan or special Darshan by paying twenty five rupees. All the times the devotees can make Darshan from a certain distance for free of cost.
The jagannath temple can be said as a true replica of Hindu culture and tradition. History says that Lord Jagannath was a tribal deity and was worshipped by Sabar people as a form of Narayana. Other history says that he was worshipped as Nilamadhava means form of Narayana hving blue body color. He was brought to Nilachal and associated with two other deities of Balabhadra and Subhadra. It can be said that it is the fusion of Indian culture and the tribal culture. It is said that the deities are the symbols of Samyak Darshan, Samyak Dnana and Samyak Charita. Jagannath is considered to be Narayana or Vishnu. On the other hand they are regarded as the Vairava with Vimala. So people found a Michel of Saiviam, Saktism and Vaishnavism.
All the Acharyas were expected to visit this Jagannath temple. Adi Shankaracharya founded Govardhana Matha here. Gurunanak, Kabir, Tulsidas visited this place. Gaudiya Vaishnavism stayed here for twenty four years at a stretch.
The Jagannath temple complex covered around 400, 000 square feet areas. Nilachakra is mounted on the top most point of Jagannath temple. The Singhadwara is the main entrance to the temple. The minor temples are also there. There are many mandapas inside the complex.