This mighty and beautiful temple belongs to Jagannath, Lord of the Universe and incarnation of Vishnu( Hindu mythology god ). The jet-black stone deity withlarge, round, white eyes is hugely popular across Odisha; figures of Jagannath are tended and regularly dressed in new clothes at shrines across the state.Built in its present form in 1198, the temple (closed to non-Hindus) is surrounded by two walls; its 58m-high sikhara (spire) is topped by the flag and wheel of Vishnu.
Priests continually garland and dress the idols throughout the day for different ceremonies. Incredibly, the temple employs about 6000 men to perform the complicated rituals involved in caring for the gods. An estimated 20,000 people ? divided into 36 orders and 97 classes ? are dependent on Jagannath for their livelihood.
Puri is no palm-fringed paradise ? the beach is wide, shelves quickly with a nasty shore break and is shadeless, but the newly crowned Model Beach, art of a sustainable, community-run beach tourism initiative by Barefoot , offers a 700m stretch of sand that’s easily Puri’s finest and cleanest. Palm umbrellas provide shade and cabana boys/lifeguards, known as Sea Riders , hawk fixed-price beach chairs (?20) and massages (?50 to ?200) and are responsible for keeping the beach clean.
A sustainable tribal and cultural tourism veteran focuses on rural and special-interest ethnic tourism, but also interesting for its Green Riders program in which 75 cycle-rickshaw drivers are trained weekly in fixed pricing, self-respect and why spiking prices for foreign tourists is uncool. In addition to transport, the program offers a wealth of local cycle-rickshaw tours to fascinating parts of old Puri.
These hallowed and sacred cremation grounds are the end stop of choice for Eastern India?s Hindu population and beyond ? some 40 bodies are cremated here daily. Anyone can watch or walk among the open-air ceremonies providing you are behaving in a respectful manner and not taking photos. It?s an obviously solemn affair, but a fascinating glimpse into Puri?s role as one of India?s holiest cities.
This small local NGO works to improve community lifestyles through sustainable tourism development. Volunteers must commit to a two-week minimum, which can involve teaching English, beach maintanance supervision and training in tourism. From ?1400 per week including lodging and meals.
Non-Hindus can ‘spy’ on the Jagannath Mandir from the roof of Raghunandan Library. Ask permission; a ‘donation’ is expected (Rs10 is fine though they will whine about it) and your amount is entered in a book. On Sunday a nearby hotel takes over the scam and demands Rs50- easily negotiated down to Rs20.
With mismatched beautiful sculptures and precarious tree huts scattered throughout,its grounds, Wildgrass is an atmospheric secret garden gone wild. The Indian side of the menu is enlivened with excellent regional specials, categorised by their origins (Odishan, Chilikan and Puriwala), many of which you no longer see on menus.