Places to Visit in Sri Purushottama Kshetra – Puri Dham Parikrama

Gundicha Mandir

This temple is located at the end of Grand road about three km north east of Jagannatha temple. At the time of Ratha yatra festival, Lord Jagannatha goes to the Gundicha temple and stays for a week. After that he returns to his original temple.

The Gundicha temple is situated in the area of Sundarachala, which is non-different from the Vrindavana forest.

Gundica marjana – Cleansing of the Gundica temple

The cleaning of the Gundica temple takes place a day before the Ratha yatra and is elaborately described in Chaitanya Caritamrita. Lord Chaitanya smeared sandal wood pulp on His personal associates, gave each a broom and went to Gundica. They cleansed
everything nicely including the ceiling. They moved Lord Jagannatha’s throne to clean underneath it. Sri Chaitanya cleansed in jubilation and chanted Hare Krishna simultaneously, everyone followed His example. Lord Chaitanya’s entire body was covered with dust and dirt as He washed the temple with His tears.

 “The outside yard and residential quarters were also cleansed. Imitating Lord Chaitanya, the devotees gathered dust and straw in their cloths and discarded it outside into one pile. Lord Chaitanya’s own pile of straw and dust was much bigger than the devotee’s collective pile.” Chaitanya Caritamrita, Madhya Lila, Ch. 12

Narasimha Temple

The temple is located near the Gundicha temple. There are two deities of Lord Narasimha one behind the other. The Deity in front is called Shantha Narasimha. Anyone who sees this Deity will have his anger, frustration and anxiety vanished. The Deity in the back is called Raga Narasimha. He is in the angry mood of Narasimha.

Haridasa Thakura’s Samadhi

The Samadhi temple of Haridasa Thakura, the Namacharya (the teacher of the chanting of the Holy Name) is located by the beach in the Svarga Dwara area. The passing away of Haridasa Thakura in Chaitanya Caritamrita is described as follows:
Haridasa Thakura made Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu sit down in front of him, and then he fixed his eyes, like two bumblebees, on the lotus face of the Lord. He held the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya on his head and then took the dust of the feet of all the devotees
present and put it on his head. He began to chant the holy name of Sri Krishna Chaitanya again and again. As he drank the sweetness of the face of the Lord, tears constantly glided down from his eyes. The Lord raised the body of Haridasa Thakura and placed it on His lap. Then He began to dance in the courtyard in great ecstatic love. Chaitanya Caritamrita Antya 11

Haridasa Thakur’s body was brought in procession from Siddha Bakula (where he justify his body) to the beach. Sri Chaitanya personally bathed the body of Haridasa Thakur and declared, “From this day on, this sea has become a great pilgrimage site.” Haridasa’s body was placed in a hole in the sand along with Lord Jagannatha’s remnants (silken rope, sandalwood pulp, food, and cloth). Lord Chaitanya covered the body with sand, chanting Hari Bol! Hari Bol!

A platform was constructed and a fence erected to protect the site. Lord Chaitanya and the devotees filled the whole universe with tumultuous chanting and danced all around the platform. After sankirtana, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu bathed in the sea with His devotees, swimming and playing in the water with great jubilation. After circumambulating the tomb of Haridasa Thakura, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu went to the Simha-dvara gate of the Jagannatha temple. Lord Chaitanya then begged prasadam for a festival honoring the passing away of Haridasa Thakura. All the devotees then sat down and had a huge feast.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave this benediction: “Anyone who has seen the festival of Sri Haridasa Thakura’s passing away, anyone who has chanted and danced here, anyone who has offered sand on the body of Haridasa Thakura and anyone who has joined this festival to partake of the prasada will achieve the favor of Krishna very soon. There is such wonderful power in seeing Haridasa Thakura.”

Siddha Bakula

Siddha Bakula is the bhajana kutir of Haridasa Thakura - the place where he chanted 3,00,000 names of Krishna daily. Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami would also stay here when they were in Jagannatha Puri. Lord Chaitanya would come and meet them here.

S r i Chaitanya requested Haridasa, “Remain here and chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. I shall personally come here to meet you daily. Remain here peacefully, and look at the cakra on top of Lord Jagannatha’s temple and offer obeisances. As far as your prasadam, I shall arrange to have that sent here.”

In order to provide shade for Thakur Haridasa, Sri Chaitanya planted a used tooth stick of Lord Jagannatha. All of a sudden it grew up and appeared as a great shade tree. Rupa Gosvami recited Lalita Madhava and Vidagdha Madhava under this tree before Sri Gauranga and his followers. During his stay Sanatana Gosvami lived with Haridasa Thakur here. Haridasa Thakur left his body here and Lord Chaitanya danced in ecstasy here.

In course of time, in order to construct Lord Jagannatha’s Rathayatra cart, the then Gajapati Maharaja ordered his officers to cut down the tree here. The next morning the royal officers found the tree hollow and returned without cutting it. The main branch of the tree is petrified, stone to the touch. This is the part that was transformed, so the king would not take it.

About a hundred feet away in the same compound is the Sri Haridasa-Sadbhuj Temple. There is a Sadbhuj murti of Lord Chaitanya on the altar. Beside Him is Lord Nityananda and on the other side of Him is a shorter Advaita Acarya. A murti of Haridasa Thakur is in front, to the side of the main altar. There is also a Deity of Lord Narasimhadeva.

Gambhira

Gambhira is located close to Siddha Bakula. There is a small temple here with Deities of Radha-Kanta and Lalita and Vishaka. Radhakanta was worshipped by Gopalaguru Gosvami.

This house was once the residence of Kashi mishra. One can look through a small barred window into the room called Sri Gambhira. This is the room where lord Chaitanya lived. There is a lamp here that is never extinguished. Lord Chaitanya’s wooden sandals, his quilt, water pot, and bed are also inside the Gambhira. Sri Chaitanya lived in this room for 12 years. He would be absorbed in deep ecstasy while He stayed here.

Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya’s House

Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya spoke to Lord Chaitanya in his house about the impersonal doctrine for seven days and finally Lord Chaitanya defeated all his impersonalist conclusions and bestowed His causeless mercy upon him by showing His Shadbhuja rupa, or six-armed form, a combined form of Lord Krishna, Lord Rama and Lord Chaitanya. The house is located opposite to the Sveta Ganga tank. There are Radha-Krishna deities called Radha – Rasikaraja in this house worshipped by Sarvabhauma Bhattacharaya.

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s Birthplace
This place is located about 1 km from the Jagannatha temple on the Grand road. There is a Gaudiya math temple here with Jagannatha, Radha Krishna and Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura’s Deities.

Jagannatha Vallabha Gardens

Sri Chaitanya used to meet Ramananda Raya here.

Tota Gopinatha temple

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ended his manifested pastimes in Puri by entering into the knee of the Tota Gopinatha deity. On the far left altar are Lord Balarama and his two wives Revati and Varuni. On the middle altar is Gopinath, accompanied by black deities of Radha and Lalita. Tota Gopinath is in a sitting position.

Chatak Parbat Gaudiya Math
This temple is in the area where Sri Chaitanya mistook the sand dune hills to be Govardhana hill.

Narendra Sarovara
This is a large tank where the boat festival called chandanayatra is held during which Lord Jagannatha goes for a boat ride. Since the Lord is very heavy, the vijaya vigraha known as Govinda rides in the boat. Sri Chaitanya and his devotees took part in this festival. There is a small temple on an island about 30 m into the tank with deities of Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra.

Indradyumna Sarovara
It is located behind the Narasimha temple. Lord Chaitanya and His associates performed water sports in this lake.

Mahodadhi (the sea at Puri)
The sea at Puri is exceptionally sacred. Lord Chaitanya would daily take bath here. Lord Chaitanya also declared that anyone who takes bath in the sea here will develop love of Godhead.

Sakshi Gopala


This is an important Krishna Temple that is dedicated to Sakshi Gopala. Sakshi Gopala means “the witness Gopala”. This Deity was originally in Vrindavana. Once, two Vidyanagara Brahmins, one elderly and the other young, after touring many places of pilgrimage finally reached Vrindavan. While in Vrindavan, to reciprocate with the younger Brahmin the service he had rendered him, the older Brahmin promised his daughter in marriage. He made this promise before the Gopala Deity in Vrindavan.

Some time later, after having returned to Vidyanagara, the young Brahmin reminded the older Brahmin of his promise. Due to pressure from his family members, the elderly Brahmin said he could not remember having made any such promise.

The younger Brahmin then returned to the Vrindavan and told the whole story to Gopalji. Being obliged by the young man’s devotional attitude Sri Gopala followed him to South India, where he bore witness to the elderly Brahmin’s promise. Hence by the Lords grace the marriage was performed. The Deity was later moved to Cuttack, then to the Jagannath temple and finally to its present location, 15 km from Puri.

Alarnatha


The Alarnatha temple is situated at Brahmagiri, a hilly area, at a distance of 24 km from Jagannatha Puri. Lord Alarnatha (or Alalanatha) here is a four-handed Deity of Lord Vishnu showing Abhaya-mudra in His right hand. According to the history of this temple, Lord Brahma worshipped Lord Narayana on this hill in Satya-yuga and later carved a Deity of the Lord. Therefore this hill is called Brahmagiri. Since Alarnatha was earlier being worshipped by the Alwars of South India, He came to be known as Alvarnatha which later became Alalanatha.

It is said that Ramanujacharya, a great spiritual teacher in the Sri Sampradaya visited this temple in the past. Alarnatha’s consorts, Sri and Bhu accompany the Lord. At the feet of the Lord is Garuda with his hands folded in prayer. There are also small Deities of Rukmini and Satyabhama here. The temple was built by King Madan Mahadev in 1128 AD. There is an instructive pastime of Lord Alarnatha who accepted food offerings from an innocent boy named Madhu.

Long ago, there was a priest here by name Sri Ketana who had a son named Madhu. Once Ketana had to go out of the temple for some days and so he asked his son to offer food to the Lord while he was away. Young Madhu expressed his inability to do it as he did not know any mantras or procedure to make the offering. Ketana told him that he just had to place the plate of food in front of the Deity and pray to Him to accept the offering.

The first day, Madhu’s mother called him after cooking food and told him to go and offer it to the Lord. Madhu went and placed the plate of food in front of the Deity and prayed to Him to accept the offering. He then went out to play with his friends. After some time, he came and saw that the plate still contained the food. Madhu did not know that the omnipotent Lord could accept the offering by His mere glancing over it. Being disappointed that the Lord had not accepted the food, he prayed to Him to please accept it and then went out again. The second time, he came back and was greatly distressed to see that the food was left untouched by the Lord. He then began to cry and fervently prayed to the Lord, “I am a small boy and I don’t know the proper procedure to offer the food. But my father has asked me to make the offering. If you don’t accept the food, my father will be angry with me. Please accept it.” Madhu went out again and to his great joy, found the plate empty when he came back. Seeing the empty plate, Madhu’s mother asked him where the prasadam was. The boy replied that the Lord had eaten all the food. The family had to fast that day as there was no prasadam. This continued for three days and the family was forced to fast during this period.

After three days, Sri Ketana returned and found that his family was fasting for the last three days without prasadam. He learnt from Madhu that the Lord was eating the entire offering. Ketana who had no faith in the words of his son, thought that he must have eaten the food himself or given it to somebody. He wanted to find out the truth and asked his son to offer the food that day as he had done before. Accompanied by his father, Madhu went in front of the Deity and placed the food as usual. He prayed to the Lord to accept it and then went out. Ketana who was hiding at the altar saw that Lord Alarnatha was personally taking a cup of sweet rice. As he rushed to the Lord and grabbed His arm to prevent Him from taking it, the hot sweet rice spilled out and fell on the Lord’s body causing burns. Ketana said to the Lord, “How will we eat if you eat all the offerings? We have never heard of a Deity that eats. Being a Deity of stone, how can you eat and talk?” The Lord then declared that He was pleased by Madhu’s simple devotion but is never pleased with any offering, no matter how opulent, if it lacks devotion or is made by a materialistic, faithless person.

The burnt marks manifested by Lord Visnu on His body can be seen to this day. The Deities of Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra at Puri Jagannatha temple remain in seclusion for a period of two weeks before the Ratha-yatra festival every year. During this period, known as anavasara, devotees cannot have darshan of Their Lordships. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, while staying in Puri could not tolerate separation from Lord Jagannatha at such times and so He would go to Alarnatha temple. Even now, the temple becomes crowded during this anavasara period. The payasa (kheer) offered to the Lord during this time is very much relished by the devotees.

Once Chaitanya Mahaprabhu entered the Alarnatha temple and fell flat on the ground before the Lord. His love for the Lord was so intense that when He lay on the stone floor in an ecstatic trance, the stone melted like butter to capture the impressions of His head, chest, arms and legs. You can see these impressions even today in the stone called Premashila on the right side of the temple when entering the main gate from the road. Located close by the temple is a Gaudiya Matha where one can have darshan of a self-manifested small Deity of Lord Alarnatha.

Bhubaneshwar

Bhubaneswar is the capital of Orissa and once had 7000 temples. Now only a few hundred ancient temples remain. The Lingaraja temple is one of the most impressive temples in India.

Lingaraja Temple and Ananta Vasudeva Temple

It is one of the most impressive and beautiful temples in India. It is considered to be the Pinnacle of Orissan temple architecture. The present temple was built around 1090 to 1104, but parts of the temple are over 1400 years old. The presiding deity is the Svayambhu Linga, Hari-Hara linga, which is half Siva and Half Vishnu. He is also named Tribhuvaneshwar the Lord of the three worlds. The Linga of the Lingaraja temple is an uncarved block of granite. Close to the Lingaraja temple is the temple of Ananta Vasudeva or Krishna Balarama.

In his book Chaitanya-bhagavata, Antya-khanda, Srila Vrindavana dasa Thakura has very nicely described the Lord’s journey en route to Kataka (Cuttak). On that journey, the Lord visited a place known as Balihasta, or Balakaticati. He then visited the city of Bhuvanesvara, where Lord Siva’s temple is located. The temple of  Bhuvanesvara is situated about five to six miles from Balakaticati. The temple of Lord Siva is mentioned in the Skanda Purana, in the narration about the Lord’s garden and the one mango tree.

A king named Kasiraja wanted to  fight with Lord Krishna, and consequently he took shelter of Lord Siva to acquire the power to fight the Lord. Being pleased with his worship, Lord Siva helped him fight Krishna. Lord Siva’s name is Asutosha, which indicates that he is very easily satisfied when one worships him, regardless of the purpose, and he gives his devotee whatever benediction the devotee wants. Therefore, people are generally very fond of worshiping Lord Siva. Thus Kasiraja was helped by Lord Siva, but in the fight with Lord Krishna he was not only defeated but killed. In this way the weapon known as Pasupata-astra was baffled, and Krishna set fire to the city of Kasi. Later Lord Siva became conscious of his mistake in helping Kasiraja, and he begged Lord Krishna’s forgiveness.

As a benediction from Lord Krishna, he received a place known as Ekamra-kanana. Later, the kings of the Kesari dynasty established their capital there, and for many hundreds of years they reigned over the state of Orissa.

Bindu-Sarovara Tank 

Lord Shiva established this tank as a place of pilgrimage by bringing water from all the holy places. Taking bath here and drinking the water here can cure stomach diseases. It is located immediately next to the Lingaraja temple.

In the Chaitanya-bhagavata (Antya-khanda, Chapter Two) it is said that when Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu arrived at Sri Bhuvanesvara, He visited the temple of Lord Siva known as Gupta-kasi (the concealed Varanasi). Lord Siva established this as a place of pilgrimage by bringing water from all holy places and creating the lake known as Bindu-sarovara. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu took His bath in this lake, feeling a great regard for Lord Siva. From the spiritual point of view, people still go to take a bath in this lake. Actually, by taking a bath there, one becomes very healthy even from the material viewpoint. Taking a bath and drinking the water of this lake can cure any disease of the stomach. Regular bathing certainly cures indigestion.