Architecture of Jagannath Temple

The famous Jagannath Temple at Puri is truly an epitome of the architectural magnificence of Odisha and the skillful heritage of its artists. The word “Jagannath” stands for “Lord of the Universe”. Built in the 11th century, the temple is worldly renowned for its Rath Yatra that is held each year. Moreover, being one of the Char Dham, this place is a must visit for Hindus once in their lifetime. The deities of the temple namely Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Subhadra Devi reside on the main shikhara or tower, that rises above the inner sanctum. Above the ante-halls, some supplementary shikharas can be noticed. The wall surrounding the temple complex has a gopura or gate over which rises a pyramid-shaped roof. The Jagannath Puri Temple is one of the largest temples in the state and thus encompasses a complex that has several square blocks with dozens of structures and a gigantic kitchen. This kitchen is used to cook the prased or bhog for the deities by the temple cooks or Mahasuaras. The temple kitchen is said to be one of the largest kitchen in the world.

Built on an elevated ground, the temple is 65m(214 feet) high, thus making it a grand piece of art in Puri. Spread across 10.7 acres of area, the temple complex is enclosed by two rectangular walls. The Meghanada Prachira or outer enclosure is 200m(665 ft) by 192m(640 ft). The inner wall is called Kurmabedha, 126m(420 ft) by 95m(315 ft). The temple receives service from a total of are thirty-six traditional communities(Chatisha Niyoga) and 6,000 priests.

The Nila Chakra or Blue Wheel is an alloy wheel that rests on top of the Jagannath Temple. Made using eight metals(Asta Dhatu), the, wheel has a circumference of 11m(36 ft) and is 3.5m(11 ft 8 in) high. Each day, a new flag is tied to the mast that is attached to this wheel. On the eve of Ekadasi, a lamp is lit on top of the temple near the wheel. The temple houses a total of four gates namely Lion Gate or Singhadwara(Eastern), Horse Gate or Ashwadwara(Southern), Tiger Gate or Vyaghradwara(Western), and Elephant Gate or Hastidwara(Northern). By the entrance of each gate there is a carving depicting each form. The Lion Gate situated on the Grand Road is the main gate of the temple.

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