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Lord Jagannath Temple, Puri

Puri, a seacoast town in the state of Orissa is one of the traditional four principal pilgrimage sites in India. The main focus of the pilgrims who visit Puri is the famous temple to the god Jagannath. The name Jagannatha or Jagannath literally means "Lord of the Universe". It is said that the present temple was begun by King 'Chora Ganga Deva' and finished by his descendant, 'Anangabhima Deva', in the 12th century. The temple is dedicated to Jagannath, who is identified by his devotees with Krishna. It is also dedicated to Balabhadra and Subhadra, the brother and sister, respectively, of Jagannath.

The Deities
Lord Jagannath, the symbol of universal love and brotherhood is worshiped in the Temple along with Balabhadra, Subhadra, Sudarshan, Madhaba, Sridevi and Bhudevi on the Ratnabedi or the bejeweled platform. The Deities, Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Chakra Sudarshan are made of margosa wood. These three together are the principal deities of the temple, whose images reside in the temple's sanctuary.

The Ratha Yatra
A famous festival related to the Jagannath temple is the ratha yatra, or chariot festival, which occurs yearly in June or July. During this festival, the three deities are taken from the temple and placed in large chariots which are then drawn along Grand Road to the Gundecha temple, a few kilometers away. After they have stayed in that temple for seven days, the deities again ride the chariots back to their home temple.

Framework & Architecture
The architecture of the temple follows the pattern of many Orissan temples of the classical period. The main shikhara, or tower, rises above the inner sanctum where the deities reside. The temple complex comprises an area of 10.7 acres and is enclosed by two rectangular walls. The outer enclosure is called "Meghanada Prachira". The walls are 6m (20 feet) high. The inner wall is called "Kurmabedha". The walls were built during the 15th or 16th century. This temple is said to have the largest kitchen in the world and feeds thousands of devotees every day. The kitchen can prepare food for 100,000 people on a festival day and 25,000 are not unusual for a normal day.

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