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Sacred for centuries, Puri was the inspiration for the word "juggernaut" — a tribute to Lord Jagannath, whose idol is paraded through the city on a vast wooden chariot as part of the Rath Yatra festival in June or July. Watching the chariot — actually one of three — being hauled through the streets by thousands of the faithful ranks as one of the top spectacles in India. In times gone by, zealots would throw themselves under the wheels of the great chariot to die in the sight of god, but contemporary pilgrims are happy to watch from a safer distance as the procession rumbles through town. Religious activities are focused on the 12th-century ...

Sacred for centuries, Puri was the inspiration for the word "juggernaut" — a tribute to Lord Jagannath, whose idol is paraded through the city on a vast wooden chariot as part of the Rath Yatra festival in June or July. Watching the chariot — actually one of three — being hauled through the streets by thousands of the faithful ranks as one of the top spectacles in India. In times gone by, zealots would throw themselves under the wheels of the great chariot to die in the sight of god, but contemporary pilgrims are happy to watch from a safer distance as the procession rumbles through town. Religious activities are focused on the 12th-century Jagannath temple, but travelers are also drawn here by the beach and the fact that bhang — marijuana — is sold legally for use by devotees. Nevertheless, this is a holy town not a hippy hideaway. Puri is also a handy base for exploring the coast of Orissa, with Konark and the famous Sun Temple just an hour away by bus. Also nearby is Chilka Lake, a sandy lagoon thronged by migratory birds from November to January, where you might be lucky enough to spot a rare freshwater dolphin.

Joe Bindloss
About the Expert

Joe Bindloss has written more than 30 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Time Out and other publishers, with a focus on Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and island nations.

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Joe Bindloss for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located on the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal in the Indian state of Orissa
  • Language: Hindi and English
  • Currency: Indian Rupee
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    March to May and September to November, avoiding the heat and humidity of the monsoon