Jagannath Puri Temple
The Jagannath temple at Puri is one of the greatest religious monuments in the India. Situated on the sea coast, the abode of Lord Jagannath is popularly known as ‘Srikhetra’ or Purusottama khetra on the basis of its religious sanctity. The historical records says the temple was originally built by Yayati II of Somavamsi dynasty on the site of the present shrine. Historians, however, differ on this issue. Some of them of that the temple was built by Anangabhimadeva Chodagangadeva, the grandson of Anantavarman Chodaganga .The epigraphically records however, fully confirms that it was Chodaganga who built the temple. The temple of Lord Jagannath was built according to Kalinga style of Pancharatha type. Orissan temple architecture, which made an humble beginning before the 6th century A. D reached.
Its perfection by the time the present temple of Lord Jagannath was built. The idea of building the huge temples with three sections (Jagamohana, Bhogamandapa and Natyamandapa) before the Vimana, the main temple has already gained ground in Orissa. Jagannath temple is the first expression of full fledged Pancharatha type of Kalingan style of architecture.
The pancharatha style consists of two anurathas, two konakas and one raha. The idea of constructing a temple is to install a deity in it and to offer all comforts divine as well royal.
The deity is regarded to be a royal personage and therefore he is provided with all facilities to live in a palace-like building with a huge audience hall (Jaqgamohana), dining hall (Bhogamandapa) and a dancing hall (Natyamandapa). Besides, he is further provided with horses, gold, jewellery, silken clothes and a lofty abode (Vimana) for his residence.
Jagannath Puri temple is built on a highly raised platform, compared to Lingaraj and other temples belonging to this type. Jagannath temple was the first temple in the history of Orissan temple architecture where all the chambers like Jagamohana, Bhogamandapa and Natyamandapa were build along with the main temple. There were miniature shrines on the three outer side of the main temple.
Jagannath Puri temple is a pancharatha with well developed pagis. ‘Gajasimhas’ (elephant lions) carved in recesses of the pagas, the ‘Jhampasimhas (jumping lions) are also found in their proper places. It is the perfect pancharatha temple which developed into a Nagararekha temple with unique Orissan style of subdivisions like Pada, Kumbha, Pata, Kani and Vasanta. The Vimana or the apsidal structure consists of several sections superimposed one over other tapering to the top where great Amalakasila and Kalasa are placed. Among the existing temples in Orissa, the height of temple of Lord Jagannath is highest (214 ft.8inches from road level).
The temple has four gates and two very big concentric walls. The outer wall of Jagannath temple is known as Meghanada Prachira (665 ft.by 650 ft.) and the inner one as Kurma beda (420 ft. by 315 ft). The outer wall is not uniformly high, its height varying from 20 to 24 feet. Jagannath temple is the only temple in Orissa which has four gates both in inner and outer walls.
The main entrance on the east is called Simhadwara or the Lion gate, which is the symbol of strength. The southern gate is the next important one where symbol of horse shows the military power of the king. The western gate is called Baghradwara or the tiger gate which signifies energy and the northern gate called Hastidwara indicates prosperity. But according to local traditions the four gates represents Dharma (lion), Artha (Elephant),Karma (Horse)and Moksha (tiger). According to Madala Panji the outer prakara was built by Kapilendradeva (1435-1497).The inner prakara called the Kurma beda was built by Purusottamadeva (1467-1497) who also built the Bhogamandapa of the temple.
Over centuries the subsidiary temples were built and the existed were repaired and renovated. The Aruna stambha now in the front of the eastern Singhadwara was brought from Konark in the later half of the 18th century. The architectural and the sculptural features of this world famous temple did not receive due importance as they remained hidden under the successive coats of plaster. Due to its white washed exterior, the temple was called ‘White Pagoda’ by the European sailors in contrast to ‘Black Pagoda’, the Konark temple.