We arrived in Puri and checked in to our hotel at around 5 PM. After a quick freshen up we decided to head towards the beach which was within walk-able distance from our hotel. We strolled on the beach for sometime admiring the high tides. We also had the famous masala Murhi a.k.a Jhalmuri.

Jhalmuri is a street snack originating from the eastern region of the Indian subcontinent, made of puffed rice and an assortment of spices, vegetables, and chanachur or bhujia. It is especially popular in the eastern regions of the Indian subcontinent like Odisha and Bengal.

We then took an auto rickshaw and headed towards the temple. We have purposefully kept the evening time for darshan as at this time it mostly is less crowded. After a certain point vehicles other than 2 wheeler are not allowed. So we had to walk the distance till the temple. We then stopped at Subudhi Sweet shop for rabdi (a sweet dish from chenna) and Sara (fresh milk cream not whipped). For first time goers, please do visit this place and i bet you will like the rabdi and Sara. One can easily locate this shop which is on the left side of the temple, just besides the entry point from where the devotees form a queue and enter the temple.

You can't take your mobiles inside. free lockers and shoe stands have been provided by the temple trust for the devotees. After keeping our shoes and mobile at the stand we started towards the entry point. There is a security check, once you pass that before touching the temple walls and the Aruna Stambha (pillar), you have to wash your hands, legs and mouth. Just besides the aruna Stambha, there is a small water reservoir which is used for this purpose.

Significance of Aruna Stambha and the four gates of temple:

Aruna Stambha:
In front of the entrance to the eastern gate (Simha dwara) there is the beautiful Sun Pillar (Aruna Stambha), which originally stood before the temple of the Sun at Konark and was shifted here by the Marathas. Lord Aruna is the charioteer of God Surya (Sun). It’s height is 32 feet. Lord Aruna is sitting at the top of the pillar with folded hands looking towards the Deities. It is made of high quality granite stone and the carving made on it is of high class in nature.

In the temple of Jagannath there are four gates both in outer and inner enclosures. The eastern entrance of the outer enclosure is called Simhadwara or the Lion Gate. The entrance on the Southern,Western and Northern sides of the out enclosure are known as Aswadwara, Vyaghradwara and Hastidwara respectively. They are also called as Purbadwara, Dakhinadwara, Paschimadwara and Uttardwara according to their directions. Worshiping the gates also forms a part of the daily ritualistic service of the temple. The eastern gate is beautifully ornamented.

Eastern Gate/Lion's Gate/Simha Dwara:
The Simhadwara or the Lion Gate has on each side a colossal crouching lion of the usual Odiya make with a crown on its head,which gives the gate its name. Near the Lion Gate on the northern side there is the image of Patitapavana. In front of Patitapavana a small image of Garuda has been installed. The idols of phatya Hanumana,Radha-Krishna,and Nursimha have been installed in the inches of the side walls. Formerly the untouchables who were not allowed to go inside the temple used to offer their prayers to Patitapavana (Jagannath) remaining outside the Simhadwara.
Inside the outer enclosure is the inner enclosure,approached by 22 steps (Baisi pahacha) from the eastern gateway of the outer enclosure.The width of the middle 15 steps varies from 5 feet and 10 inches to 6 feet 3 inches and the rise is 6 inches to 7 inches. The size of the remaining 7 steps are smaller both in length and width.The steps are made of felspar and Khondalite. The idols of Kasi-Biswanath,ramachandra,Nursimha, and Ganesh have been installed on the southern side of the Baisipahacha.

Southern Gate/Horse Gate/Aswa Dwara:
The Aswadwara or the Horse Gate has on each side a galloping stallion of masonry work with the figures of Jagannath and Balabhadra on their back in full military array.These sculptures depict the legendary Kanchi expedition of Jagannath and Balabhadra,and have been installed recently.The inner enclosure is approached by ten flights of steps,made of khondalite,from the southern gateway of the outer enclosure.
The images of Sadhabhuja Gouranga,Ramachandra,Gopala,Barabhai Hanumana and Nursimha have been installed in small shrines in the outer enclosure.

Western Gate/Tiger Gate/Vyaghra Dwara:
The Vyaghradwara or the Tiger Gate has on each side a figure of a tiger made of mortar.The inner enclosure is approached by seven flights of steps,made of khondalite,from the western gateway of the outer enclosure.The deities of Rameswar-Mahadeva,Sri Jagannath Dwarakanath,and Badrinath are installed in the outer enclosure in a shrine known as Chaturdham.
Flower garden have been set up both the sides from which flowers are collected for the daily worship of the deities. The shrines of Chakranarayana, Sidheswara, Mahabir Hanuman, and Dhabaleswar Mahadeva are located in this area.

Northern Gate/Elephant Gate/Hasti Dwara:
The Hastidwara or the Elephant Gate had on each side a colossal figure of elephant,which is said to have been disfigured during the Muslim inroads.Subsequently,these figures were repaired and plastered with mortar and placed at he northern gate of the inner enclosure (Kurma Bedha).
The inner enclosure is approached by thirteen flights of steps made of khondalite,from the northern gateway of the outer enclosure.The deities of Lokanath, Uttarani,Lakshmi-Nursimha,Baraha and Sitala have been installed in the outer enclosure.There is also the sacred Suna-Kuan from which 108 pitchers of water are taken for the ceremonial bath of Lord Jagannath during the Snana Yatra.On the western side of the outer enclosure,near the gate of the kurma bedha,stands a banyan tree,and on a raised platform,the favor Koili Baikuntha or Kaivalya Baikuntha. During the Nabakalebara,the images of Jagannath,Balabhadra and Subhadra are being constructed here.

Baisi Pahacha:
Baisi Pahacha is a combination of two words ‘Baisi’ and ‘Pahacha’. In local Odia language ‘Baisi’ means ‘22’ and ‘Pahacha’ means ‘Step’, so ‘Baisi Pahacha’ means ’22 Steps’. These 22 steps found at the ‘Simha Dwara’, the Lion’s gate of Lord Jagannath temple, Puri. After entering the Lions’ gate of the temple, devotees have to climb these 22 holy steps to reach the second inner gate (known as Baisi Pahacha Gumuta), after passing the second gate they will reach the courtyard from where they can get into the main temple to see Lord Jagannath.

According to belief, all sins of the devotees disappear who touch these steps even once, so devotees usually touch these 22 steps in hand while climbing them and also allowed their children to slowly roll over these steps from the top to the bottom in expectation of spiritual bliss. Pilgrims get a sense of fulfillment after putting a fleck of dust from the surface of these 22 steps on their forehead. Width of the middle 15 steps varies from 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet 3 inches and the rise is 6 inches to 7 inches. The size of the remaining 7 steps is smaller in length and width.
A black color stone known as ‘Yama Shila’ is engraved in the middle of the 3rd step. As per the belief, devotees must step on this stone while going up the steps because it frees them from ‘Yama Danda’ (Punishment of Yama, the God of death), but must not step on this stone on their way back since it will take away all the ‘Punya’ (values collected after visiting Lord Jagannath temple).

Various holy activities and rituals are performed on these 22 steps throughout the year, out of those ‘Sradha’ ritual is the most important one. Sradha is the annual Pinda Daana ritual of Hindus, a ritual in which food is offered to the ancestors, is usually performed on both sides of these 22 steps. The ancestral souls are believed to be satisfied by it. There is a small stone on the 7th step known as ‘Pitru Shila’. Devotees offer Anna Mahaprasada, the holy rice of the temple that has been offered to Lord Jagannath, to this stone for feeding their ancestors to liberate their departed souls. It is also believed that during the annual car festival several Gods, Goddesses, Demi Gods, other heavenly bodies, the souls of the ancestors (near the Pitru Shila), Chitragupta and Yamadootas (near the Yama Sihla)come to these steps to see the grand Pahandi ceremony of Lord Jagannath. Madana Mohana, the representative idol of Lord Jagannath, offers Pinda Daana on these steps to his ancestors (Nanda and Yashoda, Devaki and Vasudeva, Koushalya and Dasaratha). Another ritual known as ‘Badabadia Daka’ (call the elders) is performed on these steps on the day of Deepavali. Devotees burn kaunria kathis (bundle of a particular kind of sticks which easily catch fire) on these steps on the Deepavali day to light up the path of their ancestral souls. The idols of Kasi Biswanath, Lord Rama, Nursingha and Ganesha have been installed on the southern side of the Baisipahacha.

Name of 22 Steps

Step Number Name
Step 1 Tibra
Step 2 Kumudabati
Step 3 Mandaa
Step 4 Chandobati
Step 5 Dayabati
Step 6 Ranjani
Step 7 Ratika
Step 8 Roudraa
Step 9 Krodhaa
Step 10 Badrikaa
Step 11 Prasarini
Step 12 Brati
Step 13 Maarjani
Step 14 Khyati
Step 15 Raktaa
Step 16 Saandipani
Step 17 Aajaapani
Step 18 Madanti
Step 19 Rohini
Step 20 Ramyaa
Step 21 Ugraa
Step 22 Khyobhini
There are various believes associated with the significance of these 22 steps.

First Significance:

One belief says each of these 22 steps has its own significance of the existence of the Universe. The significance is given below

First Five Steps (from step 1 to 5): Describe all five Sense Organs, these are Eye, Ear, Nose, Tongue and Skin
Second Five Steps (from step 6 to 10): Describe five Breathing (Prana), these are Up-breathing (prana), Down-breathing (apana), Back-breathing (Vyana), Out-breathing (Udana) and On-breathing (Samana). These five vital forces (Pancha Prana) breathe life into body
Third Five Steps (from step 11 to 15): Describe the Inner Beauty, these are Looks (rupa), Aesthetics (rasa), Taste (swada), Smell (gandha) and Noise (sabda)
Fourth Five Steps (from step 16 to 20): Describe the Pancha Mahabhutas, these are Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space
Twenty First Step (step 21) is for Wisdom
Twenty Second Step (step 22) is for Ego
After crossing these Baisi Pahachas (22 Steps), devotees can see Lord Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe.

Second Significance:

Believers of Jainism hold these 22 steps to be a symbolic representation of their 22 Tirthankars. When a Jain devotee enters the Lion’s gate and starts climbing the 22 steps, he touches each step in deep devotion and then touches his head as a mark of respect to the Trithankars of Jain religion.

Third Significance:

Some scholars say that these steps represent the 22 kinds of weaknesses and faults in human beings, so every devotee must sacrifice these 22 weaknesses by climbing these 22 steps before getting into the main temple to see Lord Jagannath.

Kitchen of Lord Jagannath Temple: biggest hotel in the world, serving all without reservation or previous notice

Sri Jagannath is the Lord of the Universe. His kitchen is considered as the largest and the biggest kitchen in the world. It is situated south-east direction of the outer compound of Srimandir. The length of the kitchen is 150 feet, breadth is 100 feet and height is about 20 feet. It consists of 32 rooms with 250 earthen ovens within these. Around 600 cooks (Suaras) and 400 assistants serve here everyday for preparing Lord's food. There are three types of hearths in the kitchen of Srimandir such as Anna Chuli, Ahia Chuli and Pitha Chuli. The dimension of hearths where rice is prepared are 4' x 2.5' x 2'. The rectangular space created between two rice hearths is called Ahia. All types of Dal and Curry items are cooked in Ahia Chuli. There are only ten numbers of Pitha Chuli in the temple kitchen which are made of cement. The fire of this kitchen is known as Vaishnava Agni, because it is the fire in the kitchen of Lord Jagannath and used to serve Vishnu Himself. It is never put out.

It is believed that Mahalaxmi cooks in the kitchen Herself; all are felt to be Her servants. As she is not attentive to the cooking on the days when Lord Jagannath is said to be sick before Rath Yatra, the food is less tasty. During Ratha Yatra when Lord Jagannath is in Sri Gundicha Temple, She is said to have no zeal to cook and so the food is tasteless. It is also said that if mother Laxmi is displeased with the preparations by the cooks, a dog will appear mysteriously on the temple grounds. If the dog is seen, all the food must be buried and prepared again. As no dog is allowed to enter the temple, this dog is said to be Kutama Chandi, a tantric goddess in charge of purification of food.

Four types of cooking are prepared in the kitchen of Srimandir. Those are Bhimapaka, Nalapaka, Souripaka and Gouripaka. The items of Bhimapaka consist Badatiana, Gudakhuara, Pakala Nadia Rasa, Purapitha, Biripitha and Gudakanji. In Nalapaka, items like Sakara, Tianalapara, Adanga and different types of sweet drinks are prepared. Souripaka items include Mahura, Deshialubhaja, Kadalibhaja, Adapachedi, Ghialabanga and varieties of cakes. In Gouripaka, Mugatiana, Leutia, Kosala and Madhura Lalita Saga items are cooked.

In the kitchen of Srimandir, four types of rice are prepared. These are Salianna, Khiraanna, Dadhianna and Sitalaanna. Sunakhila rice cooks along with ghee and Phalatabha Kharada Lavana to get Salianna. For getting Khiraanna alongwith Basumati rice; cow milk, ghee and Kharada Lavana are mixed and cooked. Similarly plain rice mixed with curd; Dadhianna is prepared and rice mixed with Tabharasa and Kharada Lavana; Sitalaanna is prepared.

The food in the temple kitchen is prepared in such a pure way and with deep devotion; great spiritual impact is felt, both by those who cook and those who eat. The unique feature is that, clay pots are placed in a special earthen oven, five in numbers, one on the top of another. Yet the one on the top is cooked first.

There are two wells in the temple complex for the purpose of supplying water to the kitchen. These are named as Ganga and Jamuna and both are near the kitchen itself. The radius of the wells is more than 10 feet and depth is 100 feet each.

All the necessary commodities for the temple kitchen are brought from Mahalaxmi Bhandar, which runs by Suara Nijoga Cooperative Society. The earthen pots used for cooking foods are provided by Kumbhakara Nijoga Society. The potters of Kumbharapara and nearby areas supply these pots the temple kitchen. The required timber for the kitchen was previously supplied from different forests of the State. But after nationalisation of forests, the State Forest Corporation is providing timbers for cooking purpose. Daily 5,000 persons may be fed, but on big festival days, one to ten million may be accommodated. The temple kitchen of Lord Jagannath is therefore considered to be the biggest hotel in the world, serving all without reservation or previous notice.

There are lot of stories behind the origin of this temple but the below one fascinated me the most:

When Shri Krishna was being cremated in Dwarika, Balaram, much saddened with the development, rushed out to drown himself into ocean with Krishna's partially cremated body. He was followed by Subhadra. At the same time, on the eastern shore of India, King Indradyumna of Jagannath Puri dreamt that the Lord's body would float up to the Puri's shores. He should build a massive statue in the city and sanctify the wooden statues of Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra.
The bones (asthi) of Lord Krishna's body should be put in the hollow in the statue's back. The dream came true. The king found the splinters of bone (asthi) and took them. But the question was who would carve the statues. It is believed that the Gods' architect, Vishwakarma, arrived as an old carpenter. He made it clear that while carving the statues nobody should disturb him, and in case anybody did, he would vanish leaving the work unfinished.
Some months passed. The impatient Indradyumna opened the door of Vishwakarma's room. Vishwakarma disappeared immediately as he had warned before. Despite the unfinished statues, the king sanctified them; placing Lord Krishna's holy cinders in the hollow of the statue and installed them in the temple.
A majestic procession is carried out with the statues of Lord Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra, every year, in three gigantic chariots. The huge chariots are pulled by devotees from Janakpur to the temple in Jagannath Puri. The statues are changed every 12-18 years--the new ones being incomplete also.

Here are some interesting facts about Jagannath Temple, Puri.

1. The main dome of the temple never casts a shadow at any time of the day.
2. The flag atop the Jagannath Puri Temple always flaps in the opposite direction of air.
3. The same quantity of food is cooked everyday in the temple premises during entire year but that same quantity of prasadam can feed a thousand people & 2 million people.
4. In the temple’s kitchen, there are 7 pots kept one on top of another and food cooked in them on firewood. However the amazing part of this process is that the contents in the top pot get cooked first & then the content in the bottom one gets cooked the last.
5. Sudarshan Charka at top of Jagannath Temple will always face you no matter the direction you stand in.
6. As a matter of scientific fact, during the day-time, air blows from sea to land vice versa in the evening but it is the opposite in Puri.
7. After entering from Singhadwara’s – the main entrance of the temple – first step from inside of the Temple, one cannot hear any sound produced by the ocean. But, when one crosses the same step from outside of the Temple the sounds of the ocean could be clearly heard. This phenomenon is more pronounced in the evening hours.
8. Nava Kalevara is the special occasion can happen once in 8, 12 or 18 years respectively.
9. The prasadam prepared on a single day never gets wasted or shortfalls ever. Whether a surplus number of people visit the temple or less it fulfills all.
10. No bird or planes ever fly above the Jagannath temple.
Few links showed this to be a myth: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-birds-and-planes-not-fly-above-the-Jagannath-Temple-of-Puri
Again it depends on the belief of the people.


Swargadwar is the cremation ground of Hindus. 'Swarga' means heaven and 'dwar' means gateway, so literary Swargadwar is consider as the 'Gateway to Heaven'. General belief support the idea among Hindus to end their life in this holy place of Puri to get the accessibility to heaven for liberating their Soul and ultimately Salvation. Swargadwar,is in the sandy beach towards the South western corner of the town. In every Amabasya God Narayana represents Lord Jagannath in visiting sea which is said to be the in-law house of the Lord,through this holy cremation ground. On this holy site situated the temple of Goddess Smasana Kali. Goddess Kali act as the guard of Swargadwar and stand as the proof for all Heaven going Soul.
Purusottam Kshetra Puri has been accepted as the ‘Martya Vaikuntha’, where Lord Vishnu stays as Jagannath in the Bada deula, the great Temple. Here everything has been said to be great ‘Bada’ i.e. Bada danda, Mahaprasad, Mahadipa, Mohodadhi, etc. Any body, therefore, dies here straight goes to heaven and attains salvation. ‘MUKTI’ undoubtedly achieved through this Swargadwar, besides the Mohodadhi (sea). The devotees attach very strong faith in it and get themselves satisfied in visiting directly the to gateway of heaven (Swargadwar). Bathing first at Swargadwar beach is conventional. Swargadwar is a sacred place. Sri Chaitanyadev too bathed here first, merged into Brahma (Divine Soul) here in Nilachal. According to scriptures, the Brahmadaru, from which the three main deities of the Jagannath temple are carved out, floated to the beach at Swargadwar.
The ghat itself is a little square of darkness and silence in the center of this worldly bustle; here the only lights are not those of bulbs and lanterns but of the slow-burning funeral pyres. It is natural considering the place as a divine for any time in the year, be it the season of heavy rain or shivering cold, be it the mid of dark night or the noon, one can view the magnanimity of the place for which it is famous.

Famous food joints that can be visited in Puri town:
Apart from the delicious mahaprasad, visitors have many options to satisfy their carving for food.
1. Chudaghasha and dalma: Chandanpur
2. Puri and dalma: shop adjacent to the traffic post near railway station. This shop is also famous for malpua.



3. Tea: Shop near the banyan tree just after bata mangala temple while exiting the city.


4. Pink house: Near nolia sahi on chakratirtha road, beind Sonar gourang temple. This is famous for sea foods.
5. Some road side joints near bus stand.

6. Subudhi sweet shop: for Rabdi and Sara

Note: Please avoid the sea foods near swargadwar beach.