Jagannath temple is one of the most important pilgrimages of the Hindus. It is located on the eastern seaboard in Puri, Odisha. The temple has been built over the years by many emperors starting from 10th century by King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva of the Ganga Dynasty. The historians have always given various theories about which the emperor had the main role in the architecture of the Jagannath Temple.
It is said to have finished by Angangabhima III of Ganga Dynasty. The architecture of Jagannath temple is one of a kind. It follows the architecture of that era. The temple is curvilinear on the top and has srichakra( an eight-spoked wheel ) above it.
The temple covers an area of 4,00,000 square feet and is surrounded by high walls. The wall is 20 feet high and is known as Meghanada Pacheri. The inner wall surrounds the main temple is known as Kurma Bedha. Inside it 120 temples and shrines are present.
The architecture of Jagannath temple has four distinct sectional structures
- Vimana (Sanctum sanctorum)
- Mukhashala (Frontal porch)
- Jagamohan (Audience/Dancing Hall)
- Bhoga Mandapa (Offerings Hall)
Vimana (Sanctum sanctorum)
The Vimana of the temple has a height of 214 ft and 8 inches a square of 80 ft. The outer walls have intricate figures and sculptures of the lion, elephants and Lord Vishnu. The sculptures represent the ideas and mythologies of those times. Before due to the plaster on the walls these designs were not visible. Recently they came to light while the maintenance of the temple was going on.
Jagamohan (Audience/Dancing Hall)
The Jagamohan is also named as Natamandira has a pyramidal structure. It measures around 60 * 60 ft. The walls contain the sculptures of the life of Lord Krishna from his childhood and youth. Some famous structures were of Krishna playing the flute, stealing Makhan and romantic poses of Radha and Krishna.
Bhoga Mandapa (Offerings Hall)
The Bhoga Mandapa has a similar structure to the Jagamohan. Many deities can be found in the architecture of the Mandapa. The structure includes the story of Lord Shiva and Parvati, Rajyavisheka, Dola yatra etc.
Mukhashala (Frontal porch)
The Mukhashala is huge and has 22 steps. They are called as Baisi pahacha. The holy steps are said to free you of all your sins. People roll down these steps in this belief.
The Nilachakra is present on the top shikhar of the main temple. Every day a different flag is hosted on it. The flag is called as Patita Pavana (Purifier of the fallen).
Nilachakra has eight Navagunjaras carved on the outer circumference. It is made up of the alloy of eight metals ( Asta Dhatu) and is 3.5 meters high and circumference of 11 meters.
The kitchen of Lord Jagannath is the greatest kitchen in the world. Mahaprasad is cooked here. It is then served to the deities and then as Prasad to all his worshipers.
The four gate-ways of the temples
The eastern gate is known as Simhadvara. It is the main entrance of the temple. On either side of the entrance the figure of the lion with crown over his head is found. Figurines of Jaya and Vijaya are found on the doors. In front of this gate, the Aruna Stamba (The Surya Pillar) is present.
The southern gate is named as Asvadvara is the next important door. This gate is so named because two big horses of the chariots of Balabhadra and Jagannath could be found on the doors.
The northern gate is named as Hastidvara as it has two huge elephants on both sides.
Entrance on the western side is known as Vyaghradvara. It has two big tiger images.
The Simhadvara represents Dharma (piety), Asvadvara represents jnana (knowledge), Hastidvara represents Aisvarya (material prosperity) and the Vyaghradvara represented Vairagya (renunciation).
It is the sacred tree where people tie threads for their wishes to be fulfilled.
It is also known as the hall of salvation. Here the Brahmin pandit provides guidance to people to get rid of their sins.
It is near to Muktimandapa. The water flowing through this Kunda is considered sacred. People sprinkle it over their head.
The Dola yatra swing is hung here. The beautifully carved torana is a treat to one’s eye.
This is where the Snana Yatra takes place.
To Read More about Puri Jagannath Temple and culture click here.