Bhubaneswar:

 

Bhubaneswar today a town of hundreds of Temples though many more have been destroyed over the ages. This temple city, featurs the 2nd great type of Indian temple architecture - the Kalinga style, rather like great sugarloafs, very massive and imposing. Interestingly, built in the same time period as are those at Khajuraho, 10-13th centuries. Most imposing is the Lingaraj temple, closed to non-Hindus, but we can examine the exterior. The most beautiful carving is said to be on the Mukteshvara temple, but there are many other buildings, courtyards, and tanks to explore. One we mustn’t miss is the Vaital Deul, dedicated to a ferocious form of the Great Goddess, representing the ‘left-hand’ Tantric rite. The ancient temple city is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

 

10 kms west of Bhubaneswar are the Udayagiri Caves, which were occupied by the Buddhist monks as early as the 2nd century BC.

In Bhubaneswar, the 8th-century Vaital temple has a reputation of being a powerful tantrik center. Inside the temple stands the mighty Chamunda (Kali), wearing a necklace of skulls with a corpse at her feet. Tantriks find the dimly lit interior of the temple an ideal place for absorbing age-old currents of power that emanate from this spot.

The history of Bhubaneswar preceding the seventh century A.D. is extremely obscure. Fortunately, it is not so obscure in the field of archaeology. Parts (such as Sisupalgarh) were in occupation till the middle of the fourth century A.D. The finds from the site include the Kushana and imitation Kushana coins, clay “bullae” imitating Roman coins and a unique gold piece having on the obverse a late Kushana motif with legends in characters of the 3rd century A.D. and on the reverse a Roman head with a Roman legend.

Roman contacts of Sisupalgarh are thus unmistakable. To the early centuries of the Christian era also belong a few heavy “Yaksha” and “Naga” statues, specimens of which are exhibited in the Orissa State Museum. One life-sized pot-bellied Naga and two “Nagi” sculptures can be seen under worship in the village of Kapilprasad, 3 ¼-km. South of Bhubaneswar.

The earliest group of the extant temples, of which the Parasuramesvara temple is the best preserved, was most probably built during the first quarter of the 7th century A.D. The building activity was in full swing until about the beginning of the 12th century. One of the inscriptions on a wall of the jagamahana of the Lingaraja temple records the grant by the Ganga king Anantvarman Chodaganga (A.D. 1078-1150) of a village for the maintenance of a lamp in the temple of Krittivasas (original name of Lingaraja) in A.D. 1114-15, presupposing thereby not only the existence of the Lingaraja temple but Chodaganga’s conquest of Bhubaneswar before that date.

The holy city of Puri is located 60-km from Bhubaneswar on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. It is one of the four holy dhamas of India - Puri, Dwarka, Rameswaram and Badrinath . It is considered that a pilgrimage of the temples of India is not complete without making the journey to Puri.

Puri is called "Sri Purusottama Dham" or "Martya Vaikuntha", the abode of Lord Vishnu on earth. Other names are ‘sriksetra" (best of all sacred centers), "Purusottama Ksetra" (the abode of the supreme being), "Nilachal", "Nalagiri", “sankha Ksetra", and "Jagannatha Dhama". Puri is about 2-km wide and 4-km long.

The temple of Lord Jagannatha (or Jagannath) Temple (“Lord of the Universe”) at Puri is one of the most sacred pilgrimage spots in India, one of the four abodes (“Dhamas”) of the divine that lie on the four directions of the compass. The present temple structure was built in the 12th century by the “Ganga” King “Choda Ganga Deva”, replacing an earlier structure, which probably dated to the 10th century.

Until recently, almost the entire temple was covered in white plaster, so much so that European sailors in previous centuries used it as a navigation point, referring to it as the "White Pagoda" in contrast to the "Black Pagoda" of Konark , further up the coast.

It is to be noted that non-Hindus cannot enter the Jagannatha temple, but can view it from a viewing gallery outside the Temple.

Gundicha Mandir (Temple) is located 3-km from Jagannatha temple. At the time of the “Ratha-Yatra” festival, Lord Jagannatha goes to the Gundicha temple and stays there for one week. After one week He returns to His original temple. It is said that the wife of “Indradyumna”, the king who originally established the temple of Jagannatha, was known as "Gundicha". The cleansing of the Gundicha temple takes place the day before the Ratha-Yatra festival.