Swami Prabhupada, known to millions of devotees all over the world as an image of calm and composure and the founder of ISCKON, spent much of his life in the city of Puri located in Odisha State of Eastern India. His words of wisdom quoted below manage to capture the essence of the very existence of Puri:
'I have never questioned my Lord. I don't know where he is, who he is or what he is “ I don't even know if I should address to him as a ˜he'. But all I know is that I am too unintelligent to understand his ways. I know he's looking out for me, even when I don't know it. This belief is what makes my life worthwhile.
Puri is a city of joy, a city of devotion and a city that practically breathes spirituality from every corner, every street and every chowk of its narrow, winding, old-fashioned interior. Located at an hour's drive from Bhubaneshwar “ the state capital “ Puri has been famous as one of the most cherished pilgrimage venues for millions of Hindus in India, as well as those who are now scattered across continents. The identity of the city is the significant temple of Lord Jagannatha, Balbhadra and Subhadra. It is a great representative of early 12th century architecture of India, influenced largely by the Kalinga Rule.
Jagannatha, in a literal translation, mean the carer of the world. Supposed to be an incarnation of Lord Krishna, Jagannatha is considered to be the God that looks after the world and every minute detail of activity in it. If you are an ardent follower of the religion or interested in observing various Hindu traditions and customs, you will probably never find a more interesting place than Puri. Right from cheap hotels to street food and early morning prayers to late night bhajans, Puri has a life of its own, and it's amusing, to say the least!
Staying Cheap in Puri
Cheap hotels are to be found in plenty in most Indian tourism centers. Puri is certainly no exception to this rule, as you are greeted with lanes full of guest houses and lodges that are, in most cases, comfortably affordable for most travelers.
That said, it must be mentioned that Puri is not really an ideal place for travelers to choose a dilapidated cheap hotel. It is best advised, especially if you are not familiar with the local Oriya language (or Hindi, for that matter) or you have never traveled to India before. Choosing a hotel that's a little bit more on the expensive side “ but definitely safer and more hygienic “ can be the best way to go about it.
Luxury Accommodation in Puri
Being a place of religion, worship, devotion and spirituality, it is quite understandable that Puri has consciously refrained from turning into an all-out tourism hub. Tourists who find it difficult to stay with a hotel that is neither luxurious nor lavish might have a hard time getting used to the state of hotels in Puri.
There are not too many luxury establishments that can cater to the needs of such tourists. That said, it must also be mentioned that Puri is not completely devoid of them.
Talking of luxury Puri hotels, the first name that presents itself in all of its expensive glory is the Mayfair Heritage Hotel. Built in a modern meets traditional style, Mayfair Heritage is at par with the best in the world in terms of comfort levels and hospitality. Another hotel run by the Heritage group “ Heritage Waves “ is also a great choice if you love water bodies, since the central theme of architecture for Heritage Waves is water.
To get a completely different stay experience in Puri, you can also choose to stay with Fort Mahodadhi “ an old aristocratic building turned into a luxury hotel.
Must Do/See Things in Puri
In a conventional sense, Puri is not a place of sightseeing or attractions hopping. It is what has now come to be known as a religious tourism destination, visited by close to one million people every year. The most important thing for tourists to visit is the ancient temple of Lord Jagannatha that has given the city its name “ Jagannatha Puri. The temple, built over 8 centuries ago, is an excellent symbol of religion-driven architecture of ancient India. The Ratha Yatra of Lord Jagannatha that takes place in June-July each year is a sight to behold. Wooden cast deities of the three lords presiding over the temple are carried by thousands of people in a ratha “ a chariot of sorts “ in an ostentatious display of simplicity, devotion and utter love for their lord. Other than the central Ratha Yatra, there are over 12 major festivals lined up for 12 months of the year, making sure that tourists get to experience the majestic atmosphere of Puri, charged with devotion, no matter when they choose to arrive.
All You Need to Know Before Visting Puri
Here's a cheat-sheet of all the things you need to know in order to make your trip to Puri memorable and pleasant:
A. Hotels in Puri do require a copy of your passport if you are not an Indian national.
B. It's always the best idea to stay stocked on local currency “ Indian National Rupee.
C. Weather in Puri is moderately humid. However, Odisha is infamous for its cyclones. So, make sure you plan your trip taking the forecast in thought.
State of Transportation in Puri
Puri, being a typically Indian city of mid-size, is short on efficient public transport. As is the case with most other Indian cities, it's always a better idea to get yourself a rented car with a knowledgeable driver and guide. You might end up paying a little bit more, but it will be worth the convenience you get out of it.
Puri is very well connected by road and air to other Indian cities like Kolkata, New Delhi and Mumbai. Puri hotels of note do have help desks for reservation and booking assistance.