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.
he 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.