Representing the seat of the divine in the eastern part of the Country, Puri is one of the revered centre of pilgrimage and one of the four dhams. It is also known as Sreekhetra, Nilanchal and Sankha Khetra. One of the splendidly built temples of Orissa, the Jagannnath temple is a masterpiece of architecture with an elevation of 215 feet from the road level covering a total area of 10.5 acres. The temple, set amidst cluster of smaller shrines within two rows of boundary walls with four gateways on four cardinal directions, has a four chambered complex with deula, Jagamohana, natmandira and bhogamandapa. The soaring tower of the sanctum with its still plastered surface was known as the White Pagoda to the early European sailors navigating on the waters of the Bay of Bengal near Puri Town.
The Jagannath temple was built during the early Ganga rule in Orissa at around 11th century A.D. The construction that started during the rule of Choda Gangadev was completed by King Anangabhima Deva. The temple built as a Pancharatha plan has been exquisitely carved on the temple walls, with panels of sculptures depicting Kirsha-Lilla themes from the Bhagavata along with Dasavatara and other divine, semi divine and human figures.
The temple complex comprises an area of 10.7 acres and is enclosed by two rectangular walls. The outer enclosure is called Meghanada Prachira (665x640 feet). The walls are 6 meters high. The inner wall is called Kurmabedha (420x315 feet). The walls were a later addition to the original temple and were built at around the 15th or 16th century. The main temple is surrounded by 30 different smaller temples. The Narasimha temple adjacent to the western side of the Mukti-mandapa is said to have been constructed before the present temple.
The spire that adorns the top of the Jagannatha Temple is made of an alloy of eight different metals known as asta-dhatu. It is known as the Nila Chakra. On every Ekadasi day a lamp is lit on top of the temple near the wheel. There are four gates to the temple; the Eastern Singhadwara (Lion Gate), the Southern Ashwadwara (horse gate), the Western Vyagharadwara (tiger gate) & the Northern Hastidwara (elephants gate). There is a carving of each of these forms on the entrance of each gate.
The Temple consists of four main part viz., the Viman or the great temple, Jagmohan or the hall of audience, Natamandapa the Dancing Hall and Bhogmandap. The Images of Lord Balabhadra, Subhadra & Jagganath are installed in the inner part of the temple called as Ratnavedi or the jeweled platform. MORE