Earthen pot-making is an age-old practice which stems from the Mesolithic period in India. Over time, the practice has been perfected and today, Puri is home to ancient earthen pot-making which is specially used to cook and serve the temple’s sacred mahaprasad. The potters who serve the lord are but a single element of the great network of belief, duty and devotion.

Q Why is mahaprasad served in pots?

This practice of cooking and serving mahaprasad to everyone in earthen pots is quite old and has been continuing for more than a hundred years now. The rationale behind the practice is “binding consumers with the feeling of universal brotherhood” and non discriminating on the basis of one’s social status. Many believe that this practice has been borrowed from the Sabara tribe who consider lord Jagannath to be a prime god too.

Q Lord Jagannath and his connection with tribal communities ?

It is commonly believed that lord Jagannath is a prime god amongst the Sabaras of Odisha. The practice of consuming mahaprasad from common earthenware is said to have been borrowed from Sabara culture. In the Sabara tribe, people from one community eat food from shared pots in order to deepen their relationship and experience brotherhood. In Jagannath Puri too, regardless of one’s caste and social status, it is mandatory for devotees to consume mahaprasad from common pots.

Q Who started the tradition of offering mahaprasad at Puri?

There are varying stories about the origin of offering mahaprasad at Jagannath temple. According to one source, the system of preparing mahaprasad was put in place by Raja Jajati Keshari in the 6th century AD. Ardent followers of lord Jagannath refer to Raja Jajati Keshari as the second Indrayumna. He was also responsible for starting the practice of offering bhogs to the other gods and goddesses enshrined in the temple. According to other sources, the practice of offering mahaprasad was introduced by Adi Shankaracharya.

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      As kitchen utensils: Earthen pots handcrafted by artisans are used in Jagannath temple’s kitchen to cook food. Approximately 1000 to 10000 clay pots are used daily and everyday a new batch of earthen pots are brought to the temple to be used for cooking. These pots are used to cook rice, dal, curry and other dishes and are kept atop wooden hearths. Since a variety of dishes are to be cooked in these pots, different sizes of pots are used to cook different items. The food is prepared employing a unique technique. Seven clay pots are arranged one over another, secured with jute ropes, and the whole setup is then placed on the firewood.

      To eat Mahaprasad: Not only are these earthen pots used to cook food, they are also used to serve the mahaprasad. Every devotee, regardless of their caste, creed and gender are served the mahaprasad in these pots. To exercise the principle of equality and to ensure that no one is discriminated against in the house of god, every devotee is expected to eat from these pots.

      As containers- The artisans in Odisha also make smaller bowls known as olis to offer prasad to the god. These olis are also used to store curd and keep it cold. Since earthen pots are known to retain the quality of the food stored in them, they are useful to keep food items hot or cold for a prolonged period of time.

      Adhara Pana ritual- During Adhara Pana Ritual, which entails serving 100 litres of pana (mixture of milk cream, cheese, sugar, banana, camphor, nutmeg, black pepper and other such spices) to the gods, specially made terracotta pots are used.

      Besides the Jagannath temple, clay utensils made at Kumbharpada are also exported to other shrines in Odisha such as Ananta Vasudeva, Lingaraj etc.


      Jagannath Puri is one of the renowned Char Dhaam religious shrines in the country. Local belief affirms that lord Vishnu (who lord Jagannath is an incarnation of) visits all four pilgrimage sites. At Rameshwaram, he takes a bath followed by meditation at Badrinath. Then, he settles at Jagannath Puri for a meal and rests at Dwarka. Hence, this makes the preparation and consumption of food in Jagannath Puri especially auspicious. Since lord Vishnu himself dines at Puri, all ingredients, items and vessels used to prepare and eat food are of paramount importance. Since food is only cooked in red earthenware pots in the temple’s kitchen, it accords them a remarkable status in Hindu spirituality and traditions.

      Other than earthen pots, no other vessels are used to cook the temple’s mahaprasad. According to Ayurvedic beliefs, when food is cooked in earthenware pots, the clay traps and retains a majority of the nutrients in the food. This makes the food more appetising and healthier than if it was cooked in metal vessels. According to Ayurvedic principles, food cooked in earthenware helps reduce acidity due to their alkaline properties and also prevents the consumption of chemicals found in plastic and metallic containers. The clay for the pots is also considered to possess healing properties and improves metabolism.

      Everyday, new pots are crafted by the artisans to supply to the temple’s kitchen. No pot is used more than once to cook and serve food to the gods and the devotees. A study revealed that one big pot can cook rice in 15 mins and this rice can be consumed by 10-12 people. Hence, one batch of pots (nine pots that are placed on the hearth at the same time) can feed up to 100 people at a time. Now, there are 175 hearths in the kitchen that are only used to cook rice. This implies that in 15 minutes, approximately 17,500 people can be served piping hot rice! A little over 20,000 people visit the temple everyday and are served food in this manner. Pots make up an exceptional part of this chain and cannot be possibly replaced by modern vessels. Metal utensils require washing after one use and are also not cost-effective. On the other hand, earthen pots are cheap, readily available and can be disposed of without creating much waste. The study also concluded that within three hours, more than one lakh people can be fed in Jagannath Puri’s kitchen which is touted as the world’s largest kitchen!
      The design on the earthen pots is quite fascinating too. Made by beating the pot with curved wooden tools, the design looks similar to petals and fish scales. This design is characteristic of Puri’s pots and gives the pottery its unique charm. The design is not lavish and excessive because the pots are not design pieces but are actually utilised to cook and serve food. Due to rapid industrialisation and wide leaps in technology, many products are now being manufactured by machines. Even in such a time and age, artisans in Puri especially craft earthenware pots for the temple everyday. Since the inception of mahaprasad offerings in the temple, the potter community in Odisha has been responsible for crafting earthenware pots for the temple’s use. The use of these pots have survived the tide of time and hence, naturally, this handcrafted item holds great significance in this day and age.

      What is Mahaprasad
      There are four sacred Hindu shrines in India which have been accorded the status of Chaar Dham. One of them is the Jagannath temple at Puri which is known for its vibrant Rath Yatra and delicious mahaprasad. According to local legend, all four shrines house different incarnations of lord Vishnu and at Puri, the great lord eats his meals. Hence, the temple’s mahaprasad acquires a special flavour and is considered to be a divine meal.
      Also known as Chappan Bhog, the mahaprasad of Jagannath Puri consists of 56 food items. Primarily, two types of mahaprasad are sold in the temple’s Anand Bazaar. These are the sakundi mahaprasad and the sukhila mahaprasad. The former consists mainly of rice dishes, curries, ghee, dal, porridge and vegetable preparations. Dry sweet meals are characteristic of the sukhila mahaprasad.
      Besides sakundi and sukhila mahaprasad, another variety of prasad known as nimalya is sold too. Nirmalya mainly consists of dry rice. It is believed that this rice has been dried in Kaivalya Vaikunth. Flower garlands and sandalwood paste which have been offered to the lord also comprise nirmalya. According to local belief, if a devotee is offered nirmalya on their deathbed, then they surely attain a place in heaven.
      On a daily basis, six meals are offered to the lord and the other gods housed in the Puri shrine. These are the Gopal Vallabh Bhog, Sakala Dup, Chatra Bhog, Madhyayan Dhup, Sandhya Dhup and Bada Simhara Bhog. All these meals are offered to the lord at a stipulated time in the day and consist of a certain number of items. Some items in the meals are local Oriya dishes while others like khichdi and saag are commonly known. Following are the specifics of each meal-

      Gopal Vallabh Bhog
      The first offering of the Prasad to Lord Jagannath is made at 8:30 am. Seven dishes are a part of this meal considered to be breakfast for the lord. They are Khua (Condensed milk), Lahuni (Butter), Nadia Kora (grated sweet coconut), coconut water, Khai (rice puffs sweetened with sugar) and Dahi (curd), and Pachila Kadali (ripe bananas).

      Sakala Dhup
      At 10 am, another offering known as Sakala Dhup that is the first cooked meal is made. The temple’s helpers known as sevaks offer this meal in 16 upchars. Dahi Amlu, Hanskeli, Sanakanti, Bundi, Nukhura Khichdi, Majuri Khichdi, Dal Khichdi and Ada Pachedi are part of this meal.

      Bhog Mandap
      Bhog Mandap is served half an hour later according to the demand of the devotees.

      Madhyadhan Dhup
      Madhyadhan Dhup is offered at 12:30 by performing 16 upchars. Different types of sweet cakes are offered during this Puja like Bada Pitha ,Bada Arisa,Matha Puli,bada Bada, Sana Kakara, Jhadei Naada,Gaja, Biri Badi, kadamba Handi ,Bada Oli Marichi Pani , Pita Anna, Marichi Ladu jadeinada Gula, Tripuri.

      Sandhya Dhup
      This meal is served between 7 and 8 pm, after the evening aarti has been performed. Items are also prepared on request of devotees. The following items are presented for this Bhog. Chipuda Pakhala, Sana Oli Pakhala, Puli , Hata Poda Amalu, Sana Amalu, Pani Pakhala, Math Puli.

      Bada Singhara Bhog
      This is the last prasad offered to the gods in Puri and is served at 11:15 pm. Before bhog is offered, the murtis are donned in silk dresses and garlands. Hymns from the Gita Govind are sung too. 5 upchars are performed by the temple’s helpers and the following items are served- Suar Pitha, Rosa Paika, Mitha Pakhala, Kanji, Sarapuli Pitha, Kadali Bada

      On festivals and other celebrations, the mahaprasad may include more than 56 dishes. For instance, on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, as many as 84 items are part of the mahaprasad.
      Every item in the mahaprasad and daily offerings is cooked in the temple’s kitchen using traditional cooking tools. The Odisha earthenware pottery plays a significant role in the cooking process. All food is cooked in them and devotees are served the mahaprasad in these pots too.

      How is the mahaprasad cooked?
      The process for cooking mahaprasad in Jagannath Puri has virtually remained the same since the inception of this practice. Even with the advent of modern tools and utensils, food for the mahaprasad is prepared using the earthen pots hand-crafted by the artisans.

      The fire for the hearths is obtained from Rosha Homa which is believed to be a holy source of fire. This fire is never doused and is kept burning even when no cooking is taking place in the kitchen. According to a study, there are close to 250 wooden hearths inside the temple’s kitchen. These hearths are divided in three types of categories: anna chuli that is used for preparing rice, ahia chuli used for making dal and curry and finally, the pitha chuli which is used for baking.

      At one time, nine pots can be placed on one hearth for cooking. There are different ways in which nine pots can be placed together in a hearth. According to the first way, the nine pots can be stacked on top of each other in order of decreasing size. The food item kept in the smallest pot, which is kept right at the top, gets cooked first followed by contents in the second pot and so on. Another way in which nine pots are arranged on top of the hearth is in the 6 + 3 formation. Six pots are placed on the bottom and the rest three are kept on top of them. In the 5 + 3+ 1 formation, the pots form a sort of pyramidal structure. Five pots form the lowest rung, three form the middle rung and only one pot is kept on top. According to a study, these pot arrangements are in line with traditional science and Vedic practices. The pots are tied with jute ropes to prevent falling off from the hearth.

      After the food is cooked, it is carried to the garbagriha using bamboo sticks. It is then kept in front of the god, a few hymns are uttered and then the food is considered to be blessed by the god. This prasad is then sold to devotees waiting at Anand Bazaar which is located in the temple’s vicinity.

      Myths & Legends:

      Utkal Khand of Skanda Puran
      One particular story narrated in the Utkal Khanda of Skanda Puran refers to the divine, healing and purificatory powers of the Mahaprasad. According to the story, a group of Brahmins arrived in Puri to pray to Lord Jagannath. Upon reaching there, the Brahmins paid their visit to the lord and even decided to perform a yagna in his name. The yagna lasted for about three days and was completed successfully. However, the Brahmins refused to serve the temple’s common mahaprasad as prasad for their yagna. The Brahmins argued that since mahaprasad at the temple was prepared and eaten by non-Brahmins too, it would contaminate the holiness of their yagna. Hence, they bought new ingredients and prepared a prasad different from the temple’s mahaprasad. This prasad was served to everyone who attended the yagna. Unfortunately, everyone who consumed the prasad fell ill and the Brahmins were shocked and turned to the lord to ask for a cure. One day, a divine voice replied to the Brahmins’ plea and asked them to feed every sick person a mouthful of the temple’s mahaprasad. To their surprise, as soon as the ill ate some mahaprasad, they became healthy again! The Brahmins realised the healing powers of the mahaprasad and why everyone, regardless of caste, gender and creed must be allowed to prepare and consume the mahaprasad. Everyone was understood to be equal before god.
      The Skanda Puran also mentions that consumption of mahaprasad can absolve one from maya and get moksha.

      Jagannath Kaifiyat scripture
      A story written in the scripture attests to the healing properties of mahaprasad food. It follows that once a man who was mute was sitting outside Jagannath temple. He was hungry and saw some earthenware pottery containing food nearby. Without knowing that the pots contained mahaprasad for the lord, he ate some of the food in them. To his surprise, once he had finished eating the food, he regained his voice and was able to speak. From that day onwards, he sang lord Jagannath’s hymns and praises, thanking the lord for his miraculous gift of speech!

      Lord Jagannath and goddess Vimala
      In Jagannath temple, the mahaprasad is first served to goddess Vimala and then to lord Jagannath. There is an interesting anecdote about this peculiar ritual too. It follows that one day, Narad Muni chanced upon Radha and Krishna. He saw that Radha was feeding Krishna food that she had cooked and a few morsels of food had fallen from mouth to the ground below. Hurriedly, Narad muni took a few of the fallen morsels and ate them. Then, he visited lord Shiva in mount Kailash. Narad still had a few grains of rice stuck on his mouth and upon seeing him, lord Shiva immediately realised that Narad muni had eaten some of lord Krishna’s food. So, lord Shiva took some grains from Narad muni’s mouth and ate them too. Shiva’s consort Pravati was present there too but she was disappointed that she could not eat some of Krishna’s pious meal. Immediately, she prayed to lord Krishna who arrived at Kailash and heard her plight. He promised her that in Kalyug, he would take the form of lord Jagannath and reside in Puri. There, a shrine for her in the form of goddess Vimala would be present too. Krisha added that prasad for lord Jagannath would become mahaprasad only after being served to goddess Vimala first.

      Brahma Puran, Purshoruttam Puran and Kurma Puran
      According to all three holy texts, the Jagannath temple is a holy place for people to offer pinda with mahaprasad. Pinda is usually offered by people who have lost both parents. If pinda is offered with mahaprasad in Puri, then the dead ones will attain moksha.

      Lord Vishnu’s connection with potters
      According to local beliefs, artisans who make pots for the temple were chosen by lord Vishnu himself. The potters believe that they share a special connection with the god who Lord Jagannath is considered to be an incarnation of. Lord Vishnu is represented with four hands and each hand carries a specific object or symbol that represents his various powers and attributes. These objects resemble items used by the potters to hand craft pots for the temple’s kitchen. The objects in Lord Vishnu’s hands may vary depending on the specific depiction or context, but some of the most common objects held by Lord Vishnu include:
      Sudarshan Chakra- It is a spinning disc-like weapon that represents Lord Vishnu’s power to destroy evil and protect the universe. The sudarshan chakra is similar to the potter’s wheel (chakrado) upon which he crafts his pots.

      Shankh- The shankh (conch shell) represents the primordial sound AUM or Om, and is blown to announce the victory of good over evil. A miniature conch-shaped tool is also used by the potters in Odisha.
      Padwokamal ful (lotus flower)- The lotus flower represents purity, beauty, and enlightenment, and symbolises Lord Vishnu’s transcendence above the material world. Pottery for the temple is beaten on its outside surface to make shapes that resemble the petals of a lotus flower. In this process, a tool known as padwoful supports the pot from the inside while it is being beaten.
      Gada (mace)- Lord Vishnu also holds a mace in his hand that represents his physical strength and power. A similar shaped tool called a piton is used by the potters to beat the thick walls of the pot to flatten them and shape them thinly. Piton is an integral tool in the pot-making process


      Excavations of pottery in India have confirmed the earliest existence of the craft to be in the Mesolithic Age. As a practice, pottery making flourished during the Indus Valley Civilisation but its spread remained limited to the North Western parts of India only. Later, in the Vedic era, almost every region of India developed its unique pottery style. A Black and Red ware (BRW) type of pottery was characteristic of the Central and Northern parts of India, of which Odisha is also a part. In the later phases of the Vedic Age, BRW pottery was replaced by the Northern Black Polished ware pottery. Mentions of pottery can also be found in texts belonging to the Vedic Age.

      Yajur Ved:German indologist Wilhelm Rau’s work reveals that pottery has been described in the Yajur Ved. In a sacrificial hymn in Yajur Veda, it calls upon a potter’s son for trouble. According to Rau’s study, pottery in the Vedic Age was plain, non-embellished and hand-crafted by artisans.

      Ramayana:A 1981 thermoluminescence study on pottery confirmed the presence of pottery in sites associated with Ramayan. Such sites include Ayodhya, Sringaverapura and Nandigram, amongst others. Traces of Northern Black Polished ware and Black Slipped Ware were found at these sites.
      In Ramayan, one of Ravan’s brother is named Kumbhakarna. When translated from Sanskrit, Kumbhakarna means pot-eared. He is probably described so due to his huge stature and powerful physique. His name testifies the presence of knowledge of pottery and pots during Ramayan.

      Mahabharat:Remnants of pottery have also been found in Meerut and are believed to belong to the Mahabharat age. Meerut is considered to have been a part of the Hastinapur kingdom during Mahabharat. Researchers excavated Northern Black Ware pottery from Meerut which date back to a period between 1300-800 BC, which is when the Mahabharat is supposed to have taken place.
      In Mahabharat, evidence of pottery can also be found in the origin story of Dronacharya. It is believed that Dronacharya was born when his father, Rishi Bharadwaj deposited his semen in a pot. Dronacharya was then born in that pot and brought to Rishi Bharadwaj’s ashram. He was named ‘Drona’ (vessel) due to him being born in a pot. One can find several mentions of pots in Krishna Leela. Krishna’s favourite snack item makhan (butter) was stored in clay pots and hung from ceilings. Krisha was notorious for breaking pots with stones and stealing butter from them.

      History of pot-making in Jagannath Puri temple
      Madala Panji: The most prominent and well-preserved document containing information on Jagannath Puri is the Madala Panji. According to the text, king Anangabhim built the temple and started the 36 niyogs or services within the temple.

      According to one source, pot-making was intrinsic to Puri from 500 BCE. When Adi Shankaracharya initiated the ritual of making mahaprasad in the temple’s kitchen, potters were invited to provide pots for cooking and serving. In the beginning, potters from a specific locality in puri known as Kumbharpada, monopolised the craft and sale of pots of the temple. This clearly illustrates that such potteries have existed for more than 2000 years.In recent times, potters from different localities have begun to partake in this ritual. Localities such as Nua Sahi, Tikarpara village and Gopalpur are also involved in pottery.


      This design of the pt is highly functionalm the form of the pot also follow the function. Only the bottom round of the pot is beaten, while the upper part of the pot, near its mouth, remains smooth-surfaced and without any design. The pot’s aesthetics are minimalist and retain their functional aspect. Since pots are used to cook only once, potters do not spend time painting over their surfaces and embellishing them.
      In Puri, pots of different sizes are made to offer prasad to different gods. In recent times, the potters of Puri have come up with size categories and have started to name pots and bowls after the various maths (religious monasteries) inside the temple. There are three pot size categories: big, medium, and small. The biggest pot is named Karma Bai, and the names of some pots include Emar, SriRamadasta, Nambari and Dhala, amongst others. Besides, clay-based plates and bowls are also named in a similar fashion. According to one study, it is essential for pots in the temple to be categorised size-wise. This is because the mahaprasad includes a plethora of items, some of which require pots of larger size to cook while others can be cooked in smaller ones. For instance, rice and dal are usually cooked in big and medium sized pots, while sweets and side dishes are cooked in small earthen pots. Artisans follow the kitchen’s requirements in their form and size. The ancient technique of cooking in earthen pots over wood fire hearths (by placing nine pots one above the other in ‘6+3’ or ‘5+3+1’ pattern) is a treat to watch as it is a combination of Vedic ritual and ancient science.


      According to some sources, clay for the pots used to be sourced from fields around the temple’s vicinity. However, due to urbanisation, these fields have been converted to concrete jungles. Hence, clay is now collected from fields farther away from the temple. This has made the job of artisans more tedious as one has to arrange tractors and trucks to store and transport the clay.
      According to a study on the culinary heritage of Jagannath temple’s mahaprasad, not enough tourists and devotees know about the specialty of earthen pottery and hence, the craft remains unrecognised. If more awareness about the temple’s history and its unique mahaprasad was made available to the public, then the artisans’ hard work and skill might be better appreciated by the masses.

      Introduction Process:

      The pot-making process can roughly be divided into three stages: preparation of clay, pot-making, and baking.

      Raw Materials:

      For pot-making, one requires simple raw materials. Of prime importance in the pot-making process are clay, water and fuel.

      Clay: To make fine earthen pots for mahaprasad at Jagannath Puri temple, potters use red clay. In the past, this clay was easily sourced from the vicinity of agricultural lands and fields. It was available in abundance at a short distance from the temple at Puri. However, at present, it is believed that the red clay is sourced from Chandrapur that is located at a distance of about 15 kms from the temple. Once a month, artisans arrange for trucks and tractors to collect and transport red clay to their workshops.
      Sand: Sand opens up the clay to allow it to dry evenly to prevent cracking.
      Ash: Ash helps remove stickiness from the clay. It is sprinkled or rubbed over the pot’s surface.
      Water: In contrast, water is readily available for use to the potter and can be sourced from one’s home.
      Fuel: Potters often use dried coconut shells and sawdust as fuel to keep their hearths burning.

      Tools & Tech:

      Spinning wheel: It is a tool used in pottery making for shaping clay. The spinning wheel is essentially a large, flat disc that rotates on a vertical axis. The potter sits in front of the spinning wheel and uses their hands to shape the clay as it spins.
      Jaali: It is to refine the clay from solid particles.
      Piton: (a wooden plank with a handle): used to beat the pot to flatten and enlarge its outer surface.
      Padwoful: a solid spherical object to support inside while beating outside
      Thread: to cut the clay pot from the wheel
      Bhatti: (kiln) to bake clay products: There are two types of kilns used to bake pottery in Kumbharpada. The first ones are huge structures that are approximately 10 to 12 feet in height. They are used to bake big vessels, like pots. The other type of kiln is much smaller (up to 5 feet) and is used to set teacups, small bowls, and lamps. The smaller kilns are used by potters to bake bowls known as olis, in which devotees offer food to the god. These olis are mainly crafted by the women of the potter community, while the men are responsible for crafting the pots. Dry twigs and logs of Casuarina, commonly known as the Jhau tree, are used as fuel wood.



      The pot-making process can roughly be divided into three stages: preparation of clay, pot-making, and baking.
      Preparation of clay: Once the potters obtain the mud for the clay, they break it into smaller pieces using a wooden stick. The mud is beaten, and larger chunks of stone are smashed to make fine particles of mud. This mud is then filtered through a sieve to further eliminate any big rocks, dust, or unwanted material from it. What remains is a finer layer of mud that has been soaked in water for about a day. After a day of being soaked, the mud absorbs the water and becomes gooey like clay. Then, using their legs, the potters kneaded this clay to make it soft and malleable. This clay is used to make pots.

      Pot-making: Products like simple small pots, serving plates, and diyas are directly made by hand, while bigger pots are made using the potter’s wheel. The clay is placed over the potter’s wheel, and the potter carefully uses his nimble hands to give it shape. At first, smaller pots are made and kept aside for a day until the clay hardens a bit. These small pots have thick walls and are not the final product. The potter beats these pots with his wooden tools to expand their thick surfaces into thinner walls. One tool is kept inside the pot, touching its curved surface, while the other wooden tool beats the surface outside to flatten it and give it a precise shape. In this way, the small pots are converted into large ones by beating them. This beating also gives the pot its unique design, which can be likened to flower petals and scales on a fish’s body. Once the pot is crafted, it is left out to dry for about a day. The potter takes out any extra clay stuck to its surface and rubs the pot with ash to form a solid exterior.

      Baking: Once the desired shape and size have been achieved, the potter places his pots on a hearth to bake them solid. Traditionally, the potters of Puri use two types of kilns to burn their earthen clay vessels. It is made out of clay, mud, and bricks. It is used to bake vessels like pots, diyas, small plates, etc. Numerous pots are stacked on top of one another to form a pyramid. Mud is filled in the cracks between the pots, and then the pots are baked. On the bottom of the pyramid is a big opening where a fire is lit to bake the pots. Potters in Puri use sawdust and coconut shells as fuel. After removing the baked pots from the kiln, they are kept out to cool and then transported to the temple in bamboo baskets. Men and women carry these baskets filled with freshly baked pots on their heads.


      Pottery making involves working with clay, which is a natural resource that is abundant and renewable. However, there can be material waste in pottery making at various stages of the process. specially during the firing stage, pottery is heated to high temperatures to harden it and make it durable. However, not all pottery survives the firing process. Pieces may crack, break or explode due to various factors such as air pockets, uneven drying, or temperature fluctuations. This can result in waste material that cannot be salvaged.

      Cluster Name: Puri/Puri


      The city of Puri is a cultural kaleidoscope and a landscape of festivities and joy. The flag at the top of the Jagannath temple moves swiftly with theb reeze, standing tall and proud. The people here form the heart of the city and the handicrafts form the soul. All around the city, splashes of beautiful colours can be observed under the warm tones of sunshine; the walls of the famous Jagannath temple echo the embedded history; the dances, festivals and food all culminate to create a rich and elaborate experience not only for the tourists but also the residents. When one sets foot in this city, it feels as though love and content are sprinkled onto them. Everything from the culture to the architecture and the craftsmen to the handicrafts is majestic and magical. Puri is engulfed in a religious fervour that lights the flame of the city and the people here.

      District / State
      Puri/Puri /

      Hindi, English, Oriya
      Best time to visit
      October to April the best time to visit Puri
      Stay at
      Many Hotels & Dharamshala are availablle
      How to reach
      The nearest airport is Bhubaneswar, 60 km. Puri is a terminus on the East Coast Railway having direct express and super fast train links with New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Okha, Ahmedabad, Tirupati etc. The bus stand provides connections to Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, service every 10-15 minutes. Minibuses to Konark leave every 20-30 minutes and also from Jatiababa Chhak. There are direct buses for Kolkata and Visakhapatnam.
      Local travel
      Auto Rikshaws, Taxis
      Must eat
      Must try Jagannath temple Prasad, puri is also famous for its local food like Malpua, Dalma, Abadha, Chenna Poda, Rasabali etc.


      The history of Orissa can be divided into ancient, medieval and modern history. Orissa was  known as Kalinga during the ancient period and had been the cradle of civilization of different dynasties.

      During the ancient times, the Kalinga region was untouched by the influence of Brahmanical culture. Most of the local inhabitants of the bygone era were the tribal communities who followed completely different cultural traditions. However, by the 15th century, the region was affected by the Brahmanical traditions and the prevailing social customs slowly began to change.

      The Kalinga war played a dominant role in changing the social, political and economic condition of the region. The battle between Emperor Ashoka and the King of Kalinga had an impact on the historical development of Orissa. Emperor Ashoka was highly moved by the pitiable condition of the innocent people who lost their near and dear ones in the ruthless fight between two rulers. After the Kalinga War, Emperor Ashoka adopted Buddhism and preached peace and harmony. Under the able guidance of Emperor Ashoka, literature, language, music and dance flourished during the ancient times. In the medieval period, Orissa came under the influence of Tantrism which is the tribal form of worshipping the Supreme Being. The Yogini Cult of Orissa was one way of expressing the Tantric culture of the olden days.

      Orissa played a predominant role during the Indian Independence Movement. A new social consciousness began to dominate the political arena of Orissa and the local indigenous population was inspired to sacrifice their life for their Motherland. The history of the region provides comprehensive and cohesive information about Orissa during the ancient times. In particular, Puri Besides, is known to be a repository of art and architecture of India with
      testaments dating back to 3rd century B.C. This ancient town has ruins and testaments

      belonging to the period from 3rd century B.C. to 17th century A.D. The coastal city gained fame after Chodaganga Deva who built the temple of Purusottama Jagannath after winning a war. Over the years, association with Lord Rama, influenced renaming of city to Purusottama Kshetra, also known as Purusottama Puri, which exists as Puri at present. The origin of the name of Puri can be traced from the works of Hieun Tsang. Cunningham
      opines that the original name of Puri was Charitra. According to Cunningham, Hieun Tsang referred to the town as Che-li-ta-lo but there is a doubt regarding the identification of the town with Che-li-ta-lo.

      Puri emerged as the seat of Vaishnavism during the reign of Choganga Deva. He built a temple at Puri. The temple came to be known as Purusottam temple and the idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra were worshipped in it. The region became famous as the abode of Purusottam. Thus, the region came to be known as Purusottam Kshetra. In Anargharaghava Natakam, a drama written in the 9th century, the
      name Purusottam is used for the town.
      Moreover, during the Saka Year 1151-52 (1229-30 AD), the province was known as Purusottam Kshetra. The Mughals also used the name Purusottam Kshetra. The Mughals and the Marathas referred to the place as Purusottam Chattar. The province is also referred to as Purusottam Chattar in the official records of the early British rulers. Moreover, in the history of Puri we also find Purusottam Kshetra being
      referred to as Purusottam Puri. Instances of Purusottam Puri referred to as Puri is also very common. Earlier records prove that the territory was also known as Pooree.


      The city of Puri is culturally and economically significant and it lies on the golden triangle of  Orissa, connected to Konark and Bhubaneswar.

      Puri is located on the east coast of India on the Bay of Bengal, is the in the centre of the Puri district. It is delimited by the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, the Mauza Sipaurubilla on the west, Mauza Gopinathpur in the north and Mauza Balukhand in the east. It is within the 67 kilometres of the coastal stretch of sandy beaches that extends between Chilika Lake and the south of Puri city.

      However, the administrative jurisdiction of the Puri Municipality extends over an area of 16.3268 square kilometres and spreads over 30 wards, which includes a shore line of 5 kilometres.

      Puri is situated in the coastal delta of the Mahanadi River on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. In the ancient days it was near to Sisupalgarh (also known as "Ashokan Tosali"). Then theland was drained by a tributary of the Bhargavi River, a branch of the Mahanadi River. This branch underwent a meandering course creating many arteries altering the estuary, and formed many sand hills. These sand hills could be cut through by the streams. Because of the sand hills, the Bhargavi River, flowing to the south of Puri, moved away towards the Chilika Lake. This shift also resulted in the creation of two lagoons, known as Sar and Samang, on the eastern and northern parts of Puri respectively. Sar lagoon has a length of 5 miles in an east–west direction and a width of 2 miles in north–south direction. The estuary of the Bhargavi River has a shallow depth of just 5 feet and the process of siltation continues. According to a 15th-century Odia writer Saraladasa, the bed of the unnamed stream that flowed at the base of the Blue Mountain or Neelachal was filled up. Katakarajavamsa, a 16th- century chronicle attributes filling up of the bed of the river which flowed through the present Grand Road, as done during the reign of King Narasimha II (1278–1308) of Eastern Ganga dynasty.


      Puri is located on the coastal region of Orissa and is dominated by Bay of Bengal. The  weather of Puri experiences a tropical climatic condition. It is known that this is a beautiful city where the tourists flock every year to experience the cultural richness and historicity. The weather becomes a very important factor for those who want to go to the city of Puri mainly to spend a few days leaving aside the hustle and bustle of the city life. The weather of Puri is heavily influenced by the sea. The sea winds are quite pleasurable during the evening hours. Even sometimes doctors prescribe the patients to go to Puri in order to take the fresh sea side air.

      The temperature goes to the maximum of 36° Celsius during the summer season and during winter season the temperature does not go down below 16° Celsius. During the winter season the nights are quite chilly and soft woollen clothes often come out immediately. The winter season is the perfect season to visit this beautiful city of rich architecture and culture. The monsoon season in Puri is between the month of June to September. The climate of Puri is very humid during the rainy months of June to September. During the rainy season it is not advisable to go near the sea as it becomes very turbulent during this time. After the long monsoon weather, the relief finally comes in the month of October.


      The city of Puri is well-connected through road, rail and air. Road network includes NH 203 that links the city with Bhubaneswar, the state capital,
      situated about 60 kilometres (37 mi) away. NH 203 B connects the city with Satapada via Brahmagiri. Marine drive, which is part of NH 203 A, connects Puri with Konark. The city major railway junctions and direct train services. Nearest airport to Puri is Biju Patnaik airport.

      Some major attractions here are Sri Jagannath Temple, Chilika Lake, Markandeshwara Temple, The Narendra Tank, Puri Beach, Swargdwar to name a few. The Puri Municipality, Puri Konark Development Authority, Public Health Engineering Organisation and Orissa Water Supply Sewerage Board are some of the principal organisations that are devolved with the responsibility of providing for civic amenities such as water supply, sewerage, waste management, street lighting and infrastructure of roads.The major activity, which puts maximum pressure on these organisations, is the annual event
      of the Ratha Yatra held during June- July. According to the Puri Municipality more than a million people attend this event. Hence, development activities such as infrastructure and amenities to the pilgrims, apart from security, gets priority attention.

      The civic administration of Puri is the responsibility of the Puri Municipality. The municipality came into existence in 1864 in the name of the Puri improvement Trust, which  was converted into Puri Municipality in 1881. After India's independence in 1947, the Orissa Municipal Act (1950) was promulgated entrusting the administration of the city to the Puri Municipality. This body is represented by elected representatives with a Chairperson and
      councillors representing the 30 wards within the municipal limits. Several hospitals and educational institutes are also found in the city of Puri which ensure that the residents are provided with basic amenities and facilities. The infrastructure of this city is growing and modernizing steadily.


      The temple culture of Puri is the focal point of its being and therefore the life of the people in Puri can be understood as being simple and slow paced. This is reflected in their architecture and construction of houses. The houses in puri are made out of bricks and mud, and the terrace is covered with grass or palm leaves.

      Since Puri is one of the 4 Dhams in India, several Dharamshalas are also found with different architectural styles depending on the historical period in which they were built. Some of these Dharamshalas show influences from Bengal, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and even colonial architecture.

      The temple town of Puri is known for its significant architectural constructions that attract thousands of people every year and contribute to the tourism industry of Odisha. The Jagannath Temple. The Jagannatha Temple at Puri is one of the major Hindu temples built in the Kalinga style of architecture. The temple tower, with a spire, rises to a height of 58 metres (190 ft), and a flag is unfurled above it, fixed over a wheel (chakra).

      The temple is built on an elevated platform 20 feet above the adjacent area. The temple rises to a height of 214 feet above the road level. The temple complex covers an area of 10.7 acres There are four entry gates in four cardinal directions of the temple, each gate located at the central part of the walls. These gates are: the eastern gate called the Singhadwara (Lions Gate), the southern gate known as Ashwa Dwara (Horse Gate), the western gate called the Vyaghra Dwara (Tigers Gate) or the Khanja Gate, and the northern gate called the Hathi Dwara or (elephant gate). These four gates symbolize the four fundamental principles of Dharma (right conduct), Jnana (knowledge), Vairagya (renunciation) and Aishwarya (prosperity). The gates are crowned with pyramid shaped structures The main gate is ascended through 22 steps known as Baisi Pahaca, which are revered, as it is believed to
      possess "spiritual animation". Children are made to roll down these steps, from top to bottom, to bring them spiritual happiness. After entering the temple, on the left side, there is a large kitchen where food is prepared in hygienic conditions in huge quantities. This kitchen is called as “the biggest hotel of the world.”
      Apart from the Jagannath temple, there are several other architectural attractions such as the Pancha Tirtha, the Gundicha temple, Swaragadwar. The city also has beautiful beaches, museums and libraries that are quite popular.


      The culture of Puri is one of the richest cultures in India. It is believed that the people here have created a sort of cultural kaleidoscope.

      Even though the Hindus form the majority of the religious populace, Orissa is a land of religious harmony and it is not uncommon to see individuals from different religions intermingling and sharing. There are several castes in the Hindu community- the Brahmins, Khandayats, Karans are the upper castes whereas there are functional castes like blacksmiths, milkmen, potters, weavers, carpenters, goldsmiths, confectioners etc. as well. A village may be divided into sahi, para or kandi depending on the religious concentration.

      In the pre independence eras, untouchability was a major factor. But nowadays, it has been wiped out due to cultural enlightenment and camaraderie. All the religions have their respective rituals which are followed rigorously by the populace.The religious Diaspora of Orissa is renowned throughout the Indian subcontinent. The entire state is peppered with innumerable temples and pilgrimage sites. One of the biggest tourist destinations of Orissa is the temple town of Puri that hugs the coast of Bay of Bengal. The religious town houses several temples and shrines, the most famous being the celebrated Jagannath Temple. The spiritually inclined people also celebrate a host of religious festivals of through the year. In fact, the grand ceremonies of the Ratha Yatra, the Chandan Yatra and the Snana Yatra is famed all across the globe.

      The Puri Beach Festival held from 5 to 9 November every year, and the Shreekshetra Utsav held from 20 December to 2 January every year. The cultural programmes include unique sand art, display of local and traditional handicrafts and food festivals. In addition to this, cultural programmes are held for two hours on every second Saturday of the month at the district Collector's Conference Hall near Sea Beach Police Station.

      Odissi dance, Odissi music and folk dances are part of this event. Odissi dance is the cultural heritage of Puri. This dance form originated in Puri from the dances performed by Devadasis (Maharis) attached to the Jagannatha Temple who performed dances in the Nata mandapa. Mahari Dance is one of the important dance forms of Orissa. ‘Mahari dance’ that is known to have been originated in the temples of Orissa is also a part of the culture. The Jagannath temple is the focal point of the city wherein festivals like the Rath Yatra, Chandan Yatra, Chehra Pahara, Snana Yatra, Anasara, Naba Kalebara, Suna Besha and plenty others are celebrated. The men and women often adorn traditional clothing on special occasions.

      The people of this town are also involved in plenty of craft work. The sand art and the applique art done on the clothing is extremely popular and widely appreciated. This further contributes to the social and economic significance of Puri. The traditional Patta painting is also unique to Puri city and is a product of the cottage industry of Puri. Animals, mythological figures, flowers and trees are brightly painted on a specially treated surface or
      Therefore, the people of this city form the foundation of it. These people are filled with warmth and joy and take every opportunity to live their life like a celebration.

      The temple culture of Puri is the focal point of its being and therefore the life of the people in Puri can be understood as being simple and slow paced. Several shops close by the afternoon. The food in Puri is also of great significance. There are several products that are made out of milk and are known to be widely popular in the surrounding areas.


      The people in Puri live simple lives and devote a significant amount of time in worship. The men wear simple clothes like Dhotis and Ghamchas whereas the women wear sarees. In the recent times, the men have started wearing pants and shirts.

      According to the 2011 Census of India, Puri is an urban agglomeration governed by the Municipal Corporation in Odisha state, with a population of 200,564 - 104,086 males, 96,478  females, and 18,471 children (under six years of age). The sex ratio is 927 and the average literacy rate in the city is 88.03 percent (91.38 percent for males and 84.43 percent for females).

      About 80% of Puri’s economy is dependent on tourism. The temple is the focal point of the city and provides employment to the people of the town. Agricultural production of rice, ghee, vegetables and so forth of the region meet the large requirements of the temple. Many settlements around the town exclusively cater to the other religious requirements of the temple. The temple administration employs several craftsmen and extends the provision of
      economic sustenance to plenty.

      Religion and culture play a significant role in the lives of the people here. All around the year, several rituals and occasions are celebrated with utmost joy and pride. The people here are truly ingrained in a cultural kaleidoscope. The Jagannath temple is the focal point of the city wherein festivals like the Rath Yatra, Chandan Yatra, Chehra Pahara, Snana Yatra, Anasara, Naba Kalebara, Suna Besha and plenty others are celebrated. The men and women often adorn traditional clothing on special occasions. The people of this town are also involved in plenty of craft work. The sand art and the applique art done on the clothing is extremely popular and widely appreciated. This further contributes to the social and economic significance of Puri. The traditional Patta painting is also unique to Puri city and is a product of the cottage industry of Puri. Animals, mythological figures, flowers and trees are brightly painted on a specially treated surface or patta.

      Therefore, the people of this city form the foundation of it. These people are filled withwarmth and joy and take every opportunity to live their life like a celebration.

      Famous For:

      Apart from the Rath making, Puri is also famous for its traditional cotton and silk sarees, applique work, sand craft, patta paintings, ganjappa, lacquer work, silver filigrees, stone carving and seashell artifacts


      List of craftsmen.

      Documentation by:

      Team Gaatha

      Process Reference:

      Veda Samhitas (Hymns)

      Tradition of Pottery Making for Jagannath Continuing since 12th Century

      Cluster Reference: