THE TEMPLE OF LORD JAGANNATH
The present temple is a rekha deula with curviliner tower on a Pancha Ratha plan.It was built by Ananta Barma Chodaganga Dev during 12th century A.D and was completed by his grandson Ananga Bhima Dev.This temple is one of the tallest monument in the country,the height of which is about 214 feet from the ground level. It stands on an elevated platform of stone measuring about 10 acres, located in the heart of the town and presents an imposing sight.The temple is bounded by two enclosures.The inner enclosure is 400′ x 278 ‘size and known as Kurma Bedha. The outer enclosure is of 665′ x 644’ size with the height varying from 20 ‘ to 24 ‘ is and popularly known as Meghanad Prachir.
The temple has four gates at the eastern, southern,western, and northen midpoints of the Meghanad Prachir and are called Lions gate,Horse Gate , Tiger Gate and the Elephant Gate respectively.
The temple has got four halls in a row such as Viman (main temple where Lord Jagannath is worshipped with brother Balabhadra, sister Subhadra and Sudarshan), Jagamohan (Audience hall ), Natamandap (Dance hall ) and the Bhoga Mandap (offering hall ).
Lord Jagannath, the symbol of universal love and brotherhood is worshipped in the Temple alongwith Balabhadra, Subhadra,Sudarshan, Madhaba, Sridevi and Bhudevi on the Ratnabedi or the bejewelled platform.
The Deities of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Chakra Sudarshan are made of margosa wood. Lord balabhadra is the elder brother, Lord Jagannath is Younger brother and devi subhadra is yougest sister .
When one lunar month of Ashadha is followed by another lunar month of Aashadha, the deities change their bodies during the leap month.This is known as Navakalebar or New Body Ceremony. Last four new body ceremonies of the Lords was celebrated in the year 1950 , 1969, 1977 and 1996. On such occasions Puri witnesses the largest crowd in her fold.
Legendary account as found in the Skanda-Purana, Brahma Purana and other Puranas and later oriya works state that Lord Jagannath was originally worshipped as Neela madhab by a Savar king ( tribal chief ) named Viswavasu. Having heard about the deity , king Indradyumna sent a Brahmin priest, Vidyapati to locate the deity, who was worshipped secretely in a dense forest by Viswavasu. Vidyapati tried his best but could not locate the place. But at last he managed to marry Viswavasu’s daughter Lalita . At repeated request of Vidyapti, Viswavasu took his son-in-law blind folded to a cave where Neelamadhab was worshipped. Vidyapati was very intelligent. He dropped mustard seeds on the ground on the way. The seeds germinated after a few days,which enabled him to find out the cave later on. On hearing from him , king Indradyumna proceeded immediately to Odra desha ( Orissa ) on a pilgrimage to see and worship the Deity. But the deity had disappeared .The king was disappointed .The Deity was hidden in sand. The king was determined not to return without having a darshan of the deity and observed fast unto death at Mount Neela, Then a celestial voice cried ‘thou shalt see him ‘. Afterwards the king performed a horse sacrifice and built a magnificient temple for Vishnu. Narasingha Murti brought by Narada was installed in the temple.During sleep,the king had a vision of Lord Jagannath. Also an astral voice directed him to receive the fragrant tree on the seashore and make idols out of it. Accordingly the king got the image of Lord Jagannath,Balabhadra , Subhadra and Chakra Sudarshan Made out of the wood of the said tree and installed them in the temple.
Indradyumna’s prayer to Lord Brahma
King Indardyumna put up for Jagannath the tallest monument of the world. It was 1,000 cubits high. He invited Lord Brahma, the cosmic creator,consecrate the temple and the images. Brahma came all the way from Heaven for this purpose. Seeing the temple he was immensely pleased with him. He asked him as to in what way can HE (Brahma ) fulfil his (the king’s ) desire,since HE was very much pleased with him for his having put the most beautiful Temple for Lord Vishnu.With folded hands, Indradyumna said , ” My Lord if you are really pleased with me, kindly bless mewith one thing, and it is that I should be issueless and that I should be the last member of my family.”In case anybody left alive after him,he would only take pride as the owner of the temple and would not work for the society.”
The episode of the Lord’s grace during a war with Kanchi. At one time, a king of Kanchi in the down south remarked that the king of Orissa was a chandala ( a man of very low caste or status) because, he performs the duties of a sweeper during the Car Festival . When this news reached the ears of the king of Orissa, he led an expedition to Kanchi. Before that, he implored the mercy of Lord Jagannath. The soldiers of Orissa marched towards Kanchi from Cuttack ( then capital city of Orissa, located on the banks of Mahanadi, at a distance of 30 Kms.from Bhubaneswar ).It so happened that when the soldiers, headed by the king Purusottam Dev, reached a place near the Chilika lake, a lady ,who was selling curd ( a milk preparation, sour in taste ) met him ( the king ) and presented a golden ring studded with precious gems and submitted .
” My Lord, kindly listen to me. A little earlier, two soldiers riding over two horses ( white and black in colour ), approached me and said ‘ ‘we are thirsty give us curds to drink.’ I gave them curds. Instead of giving me money , they gave me this ring and said ,’the king of Orissa will come here, after some time , on his way to Kanchi. You present it to him and he will pay you the money.’ So my Lord, you take it and give me my dues.”
It took no time for the king to know that the ring belongs to Lord Jagannath. He was convinced that Jagannath and Balabhadra were proceeding to the battle field ahead of him to help him there. To perpetuate the memory of this great incident, the king founded a village in the Chilika lake area. As the name of the lady was Manika, the name given to the village was Manika Patana .Even to this day, the curds of this village are famous.
Construction of the temple was started by Ananta Varman Chodaganga during 12th century A.D. and was completed by Ananga Bhima Dev. This vast temple complex occupies an area of over 400000 square feet, and is bounded by a 20 feet high wall. This compound contains about 120 shrines. The top of the Jagannath temple towers to a height of 192 feet. This temple stands on an elevated platform of stone, which measures about 10 acres and is located in the heart of the town. The temple has four halls, outermost being the Bhogmandir, hall for having food. Next one is the Nata-mandir, a hall for music and dance. The next is the Jagamohana, the gathering hall for devotees and the last one is the Deul, enshrining the deities. The temple has four gates at the eastern, southern, western and northern midpoints of the Meghanad Prachir (the outer enclosure) and are called Lions gate, Horse Gate, Tiger Gate and the Elephant Gate respectively. The architecture of the temple follows the pattern of many Orissan temples of the classical period. This temple has the world’s largest kitchen and feeds thousands of devotees every day. The kitchen prepares food for 100,000 people on a festival day and for about 25,000 on a normal day.