Puri is a coastal town located on the Bay of Bengal. Easily accessible from almost all major towns and cities of India, it become in one of the most important tourist destination in Orissa due to its numerous temples, ashramas, mathas and of course its wide beaches offering breathtaking views of sunrise and sunset, fishing farms and excellent resorts.
The mathas are monasteries of a variety of Hindu sects and probably results to be the most popular attractions in the city. Puri is considered a sacred place to die in or to be cremated, and also home to the relics of many Hindu Saints.
Puri was earlier known as “Charitra”. According to tradition, originally this dense forested area was inhabited by the Sabaras, a Pre-Aryan and Pre-Dravidian tribes of the Austro Asiatic linguistic family. Dantapura (town of the tooth) the sacred Buddhist site, may also have been here, as legend has it that Buddha’s tooth was kept here before being spirited off to Sri Lanka. Until the time of its association with the Hindu reformer, Shankaracharya, the city was a provincial outpost along the coastal trade route linking eastern India with Southeast Asia till the seventh and eighth centuries. He brought it to the religious map of India as a centre of teaching and learning a more ascetic form of Hinduism and established one of its four mathas here in the 8th century.
In 1135, Anantavarman Chodaganga built the Purusottama Jagannath Temple and several images of Hindu deities were installed here. Puri was part of Kataka circar under the Mughals rule. When the Marathas occupied Orissa around 1751, they introduced several changes in the revenue divisions of the province. In 1803, the British annexed Orissa and set forth huge changes in revenue divisions and political sections. In 1804, the province was divided into two divisions, the Northern and Southern Divisions.
The climate is typical tropical and can be visited during the winter season from October to April. Light woolens would be fine for the winters since the nights by the sea could be a little chilly. For the summers, light cottons are recommended.
About transport, tourists visiting Puri can avail the roadways and the railways that connect the city to different parts of the country. The railway station of Puri links the city with other cities of India. In order to reach Puri by air, travellers can take a flight to Bhubaneswar and thereafter take a mode road transport. They also arrive at Puri by road from Bhubaneswar and buses ply to and from Durgapur, Kolkata, Visakhapatnam and Ranchi.
Puri is also known as the “Abode of Lord Jagannath”. Myths, legends lie entangled in the temples of Puri. The Rath Yatra, a Chariot Festival, is a fantastic spectacle in Puri which along the famous temple of Lord Jagannath brings thousands of tourists every year. The Jagannath Temple, a massive temple structure belonging to the Kalinga School of architecture, is among four most important Hindu pilgrimages, or the chardham, the other three being Dwarka, Badrinath and Rameshwaram.
Puri holds a wealth of attraction for the visitors ranging from sites of natural wonders to architectural marvels. It’s rich culture and heritage gets reflected through its ancient monuments and temples. In addition some of the best attractions are the Puri Beach, Gundicha Temple-home of Lord Krishna’s aunt, Swargadwar Beach and Chilika Lake, one of the largest brackish water lakes in India that holds a picturesque Sea-Scape beauty. It offers an ideal resort for birds that migrate from different parts of the continente. In fact, Puri is a synthesis of unmatched natural beauty and magnificent historical charm that casts an indelible impression on the tourists mind.