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Puri the abode of Sri Jaggannath or the Lord of the Universe is famous all over the world. One of the four holiest places (Dhams) of India, Puri has been a great centre of pilgrimage for centuries.

65 kms, south-east of Bhubaneswar and just 35 kms north-east of Puri, Konark (the Sun's corner), amidst sand dunes of the Bay and the palm and casuarina plantation,s is a sublime monument. Even in its ruined condition, it marks the crowning glory of Kalinga sculpture and architecture. Built by the Ganda King Langula Narsimha Dev I in the 13th century, this temple is a sheer poetry in stones, conceived and executed as a colossal Sun-chariot with 12 pairs of exquisitely ornate wheels, and hauled by 7 rearing spirited horses, this pagoda is an ever living testimony of the speculative and aesthetic sensibilities of a race that knew how to live, love, fulfil, sublimate and create.

Originally the temple had a Garbhagriha with a soaring curvilinear Shikhara, a jagmohan and a dancing hall and several subsidiary votive shrines, all enclosed within a huge compound of high walls. Till 1902 it remained obscure, buried and in oblivion under its debris as an impressive ruin of great magnitude. Only its jagmohan has come down to us fairly intact but dancing hall and the sanctum are almost in ruins and without roofs. Its shikhar must have been over 70 meters high when it was complete and intact. Part of the shikhar was intact till 1837 but then it collapsed in 1869. Both the sanctum and the jagmohan stand on an elevated platform which is in the form of a lavishly ornate gigantic chariot. Its 24 wheels represent the divisions of time and the seven horses, the seven days of the week and the seven colours of the sunlight. The wheels, the spokes and axle heads are embellished with intricate carved designs.

The intricate depiction of flora and fauna, human beings in various forms, the nymphs singing in gay abundance to the accompaniment of music and dance and magnificent mithuna sculptures, all lend to this monument a highly rhythmic quality, three dimensional grandeur and dynamism unparalleled in the annals of art and architecture. The size erotic figures and entwined couples form the most frank and most sensuous depiction of sex and love. As the sun rises from the blue bay waters closeby and the sanctum is illuminated with its mellow, golden rays. Then as the sun circles the temple during the course of the day the three superb images of the Sun-god in the three cardinal niches are illuminated at dawn, at noon and at sunset. The doorways are guarded by powerful animal figures such as rampant lions crushing the elephants, colossal war tuskers and the impetous horses with attendants, trampling down a fallen warrior. Formerly it was also known as the Black Pagoda because of its black tint, and also to distinguish it from the white temple of Lingaraj at Bhubaneswar.

The nearby Museum has a rare collection of sculptures from the ruins of the temple. It is open from 9 am to 5 pm. At a distance of 3 kms is one of the finest beaches with extensive sand stretch, cool breeze and rolling waves.

Bhubaneswar, the modern capital of Orissa, and the "Temple Metropolis of India" can still boast of 500 temples. Of these about a dozen are architecturally very interesting. There was a time when Bhubaneswar had over 7,000 such shrines.

These temples epitomize a comprehensive history of the Orissan style of temple architecture from its very inception to perfection spreading almost to two thousand years from 3rd century B. C. to 16th Century A. D. These magnificent monuments dominating the city skyline, are within a reasonable walking distance from one another. The 46 metre high Lingaraj Temple marks the culmination of temple tradition of Bhubaneswar.

Lingaraj Temple
This is one of the most magnificent monuments of the Century. It dates back to the 11th century and represents the mature and complex 'Nagara' style of Orissan temple architecture. Its tower, dominating the surroundings, is visible from miles around. The temple, set in a huge walled compound measuring 520 feet by 465 feet, originally consisted only of the sanctum and the mandap or the entrance hall. The dancing hall and the hall of offerings are later additions. Around the main shrine there are many smaller votive shrines. The outer walls of the temple are lavishly decorated with beautiful sculptures which mark a climax of Hindu decorative architecture. Birds, beasts, creepers, flowers, men and women in erotic poses and postures, a host of gods and goddesses all are there in their full majesty and grandeur. The inner walls of the shrine, containing the phallus symbol of Shiva, are plain and without any embellishment. Just north of this temple is the sacred lake of Bindu Sagar with a tiny island in the centre, where there are many lesser shrines. Here, once in a year, Lingaraj himself is brought for ritual ablutions.

Rajrani Temple
This temple with its sculptural excellence, profuse decoration and wonderful proportions, is a unique example of Orissan temple art. The erotic mithuna figures, fascinating nayikas, nymphs and gaja-simhas, all are there in great details. Its plain but majestic jagmohan (mondap) presents a great contrast to its lavishly decorated main shrine.

Other temples worth a visit include Laxmaneswar, Satrughaneswar and Bharteswar (6th century A. D.), Parsurameswar and Swarna Jaleswar (7th century), Vaital (8th century), Mukteswar (10th century), Brahmeswar (11th Century and Anant Basudeva (13th century).

The Anant Basudeva Temple, build in 1278, is the only temple dedicated to Vaishnava worship standing on an ornate platform, continues the decorative and mature Lingaraj temple tradition. Brahmeswar temple built in 1060, with its most elegant sculputers, is a miniature version of the great Lingaraj shrine. It is open to all including foreigners, and is a must for the visitors who care to have an idea of Orissan temple architecture.

Mukteswar Temple, with its elaborately ornate and famous torana or stone arch at the entrance, is profusely decorated on its outer walls. These embellishments include celestial beings, armed processions, and amorous figures. It is regarded a gem of Orissan architecture on  account of its exquisite carved details and lavish sculptures. The nearby Parsurameswar Temple has equally excellent carvings and sculptures on its walls. It is most noted for its latticed windows, one of which is embellished with a relief of gay dancers and musicians of great charm. It is one of the earliest and the best preserved Orissan temples.

South-west of Puri lies the beautiful and the largest brackish water lake of Asia, Chilka. Stretching over an area of 1,100 sq. kms., Chilka lake is an excellent tourist spot for fishing, boating and bird watching. During winter it flutters with thousands of indigenous and migratory birds of many varieties from near and far off places-- even from far distant Siberia. Dotted with many islands, a cruise in Chilka can be an enchanting experience. The blue expanse of the lake on the one side and the wooded hills of the Eastern Ghats on the other, make the scenery quite captivating. The fantastic charms of this pear shaped lake can be best enjoyed from the Tourist Bungalows  in  Rambha and Barkul, situated   right on the lake.

9 kms west of Balasore is REMUNA, famous for Gopinath temple. Remuna has been a centre of Vaishnavite-culture for centuries and hundreds of devotees gather there daily for the sacred Darshan of Lord Gopinath. Specially prepared milk is the delicious prasad of the temple. From Balasore there are regular buses.

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