The coastal town Puri, situated at a distance of about 60 kms south of state capital Bhubneswar, is the epicentre of Hinduism that revolves around the Hindu diety “Lord Jagannath”, enshrined in a grand Kalingan temple of the 12th century. It is the Headquarters of the district of Puri, in India’s eastern state of Odisha. It is a celebrated religious centre of the Hindus, as one of the five sacred Khetras of Odisha. Adi Sankaracharya (9th century AD), the great profounder of the Aditva vada, sanctified the place by establishing a monastery called Gobardhan Matha, as one of the four dhams of Hinduism. Subsequently, several saimts and philosophers, like Ramanuja (12th century AD), Madhavatirtha (13th century AD), Naraharitirtha, Sankaradeva, Nanak, Kabir, Chaitanya, Ballav Bhatta, Ramachandra Puri, Paramananda Puri visited and further sanctified the place through their preaching and left their imprints in the monasteries and ashramas that they established. Recorded history reveals that from the time of the Somavamsis (11th century AD), all ruling dynasties have extended liberal patronage for the growth and development of this area.
Puri comes into prominence every year during the car festival (Rath Yatra), when three chariots carry Lord Jagannath and his sister, Subhadra, and brother, Balabhadra, from their great temple through the Grand Road to the Gundicha Temple for about 9 days. Puri is equally known for its tanks which is believed to contain water of immortality. Another important community institution in Puri is the jaga gharas and Akhadas in each Sahi (nuclear settlements), where martial art, physical exercises and gymnastic are practiced regularly.
The built heritage in the city includes temples, monasteries (mathas), burial temples (gurvayatana), tanks, ashramas, jagagharas, secular buildings, cremation ground, gosala (cow sheds) and mandapas. The city’s natural heritage includes its sunny beach, which is one of the finest in the world. The cultural heritage of Odisha is reflected in as vibrant art forms, like tie-and-dye textile or applique work, sand art, terracotta, lacquer or brassware, filigree ornaments or patta (palm leaf) painting of gods, Soap Stone, Sea-shell, Horn work, Wood carvings, and Solapith work to name few.