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The Jagannath temple

The Temple of Jagannath at Puri is one of the major Hindu temples built in the Kalinga style of architecture, in respect of its plan, front view and structural detailing. It is one of the Pancharatha (Five chariots) type consisting of two anurathas, two konakas and one ratha with well-developed pagas. Vimana or Deula is the sanctum sanctorum where the triad (three) deities are deified on the ratnavedi (Throne of Pearls), and over which is the temple tower, known as the rekha deula; the latter is built over a rectangular base of the pidha temples as its roof is made up of pidhas that are sequentially arranged horizontal platforms built in descending order forming a pyramidal shape. The mandapa in front of the sanctum sanctorum is known as Jagamohana where devotees assemble to offer worship.The temple tower with a spire rises to a height of 58 m in height and a flag is unfurled above it fixed over a wheel (chakra).Within the temple complex is the Nata Mandir, a large hall where Garuda stamba (pillar). Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to stand here and pray. In the interior of the Bhoga Mantap, adjoining the Nata mandir, there is profusion of decorations of sculptures and paintings which narrate the story of Lord Krishna.

The temple is built on an elevated platform (of about 420,000 square feet (39,000 m2) area), 20 ft above the adjoining area. The temple rises to a height of 214 ft above the road level. The temple complex covers an area of 10.7 acres (4.3 ha).There is double walled enclosure, rectangular in shape (rising to a height of 20 ft) surrounding the temple complex of which the outer wall is known as Meghanada Prachira, measuring 200 by 192 metres (656 ft * 630 ft). The inner walled enclosure, known as Kurmabedha. measures 126m x 95m. There are four entry gates (in four cardinal directions to the temple located at the center of the walls in the four directions of the outer circle. These are: the eastern gate called Singhadwara (Lions Gate), the southern gate known as Ashwa Dwara (Horse Gate), the western gate called the Vyaghra Dwara (Tigers Gate) or the Khanja Gate, and the northern gate called the Hathi Dwara or (elephant gate). The four gates symbolize the four fundamental principles of Dharma (right conduct), Jnana (knowledge), Vairagya (renunciation) and Aishwarya (prosperity). The gates are crowned with pyramid shapes structures. There is stone pillar in front of the Singhadwara called the Aruna Stambha {Solar Pillar}, 11 metres (36 ft) in height with 16 faces, made of chlorite stone, at the top of which is mounted an elegant statue of Arun (Sun) in a prayer mode. This pillar was shifted from the Konarak Sun temple. All the gates are decorated with guardian statues in the form of lion, horse mounted men, tigers and elephants in the name and order of the gates. A pillar made of fossilized wood is used for placing lamps as offering. The Lion Gate (Singhadwara) is the main gate to the temple, which guarded by two guardian deities Jaya and Vijaya. The main gates is ascended through 22 steps known as Baisi Pahaca which are revered as it is said to possess "spiritual animation". Children are made to roll down these steps from top to bottom to bring them spiritual happiness. After entering the temple on the left hand side there is huge kitchen where food is prepared in hygienic conditions in huge quantities that it is termed as "the biggest hotel of the world".

The main entrance of the Jagannath Temple

The legend says that King Indradyumma was directed by Lord Jagannath in a dream to build a temple for him and he built it as directed. However, according to historical records the temple was started some time during the 12th century by King Chodaganga of the Eastern Ganga dynasty. It was however completed by his descendant, Anangabhima Deva, in the 12th century. The wooden images of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra were then deified here. The temple was under the control of the Hindu rulers up to 1558. Then, when Orissa was occupied by the Afghan Nawab of Bengal, it was brought under the control of the Afghan General Kalapahad. Following the defeat of the Afghan king by Raja Mansingh, the General of Mughal emperor Akbar, the temple became a part of the Mughal empire till 1751 AD. Subsequently it was under the control of the Marathas till 1803. Then, when British Raj took over Orissa, the Puri Raja was entrusted with its to management until 1947.[42]

The triad of images in the temple are of Jagannatha, personifying Lord Krishna, Balabhadra, his older brother, and Subhadra his younger sister, which are made of wood (neem) in an unfinished form. The stumps of wood which form the images of the brothers have human arms and that of Subhadra does not have any arms. The heads are large and un-carved and are painted. The faces are made distinct with the large circular shaped eyes.

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