Puri is a popular city of Odisha state, famous for Sri Jagannath temple, and also as a beach destination of India. This is one of the most religious cities in the country and attracts a lot of crowd throughout the year. For a budget destination, puri is a good choice within all neighboring states. It has everything like lots of temples, some historical structures, beaches, Zoological gardens, lakes and many more.
I have been to Puri multiple times and gathered some information that may help you in your next trip.
Where to stay in Puri?
Accommodations in Puri is very affordable than most of the other cities in India. You will get your stay in almost any budget. Panthaniwas by OTDC, Puri Hotel, Victoria Club, Park resort are few of them known for good luxury and impressive sea view, whereas Hotel Sambit, Hotel Dolphin will be on a budget side with sea-facing rooms. There are other options like holiday homes and Bharat Sevashram. Holiday homes can be booked from different government organization’s employee recreation clubs.
I stayed at Netai Kunj a few years back, I must say the rooms were more luxurious than of Puri Hotel and the price was one-third. The only downside, it was 5 minutes’ walk to the seashore. We are in a process to collect enough Holiday Homes listed on our Recommended Hotel Details.
Sri Jagannath Temple
This is an important Hindu temple, dedicated to Sri Jagannath, a form of Lord Vishnu. A famous festival Ratha Yatra, every year took place here, where three gods (Jagannath, Balaram, and Subhadra) are pulled on Rath (decorated temple car), millions of people participate in the event. Unlike another god, these gods are made of wood and get replaced every twelve years with an exact replica. Other than the Hindu religion, no one is allowed inside the temple. But a small replica is built for those who cannot enter.
- Puja Timing: 6 AM to 1 PM and 4 PM to 9 PM.
- Bhog Timing: 12:30 PM and 8:30 PM.
- Flag down ceremony during Sunset.
The temple houses its own market to provide daily needs, wells to provide water, and the bhog (prasadam) preparation process is also different than any other temples. In a magical way, clay pots are placed in a special earthen oven, seven in numbers, one on top of another. Yet the one on the top is cooked first. This kitchen considered to be the world’s largest and biggest Kitchen. More than 5000 people get Bhog every day and in the festive season, the amounts get multiply many times.
There are a lot of believes exist,
- You cannot hear sea roar from the very first step in the temple.
- Nothing flies over the temple
- Temple flag waves in the opposite direction of the wind. This flag gets replaced every day by a single boy (priest).
- You cannot see the shadow of the temple.
- The Chakra on top of the temple can be seen from any part of the city and always felt to face your side.
Konark Sun Temple is famous for its architecture and history, located near Chandrabhaga Beach, approximately 35 KM from Puri. Although this temple was built to worship Surya god, due to the death of lead labor (who lead the other labor to built the temple) in this holy land even before the god established, worship never took place (as per local guide). Lots of men and women structure in the wall of the temple tells the story of that time. The Chakra works as a sundial and accurately tells time and other Chakras denotes the different phase of Life.
The temple was built in the shape of a temple car (Rath) and completely made of stones & metals (only in few joints). Locals say, there was a huge magnet on top of the temple which attracts other ships. The magnet got stolen by foreign bandits. Architect people will love this place and how the structure made is itself research. Archaeological Survey of India maintains this temple also UNESCO declared this as a world’s heritage site.
- Entry Fees: INR 40.
- Timing: 6 AM to 8 PM.
Dhaulagiri (Shanti Stupa)
This place symbolizes peace, even the name Shanti refers to peace. The main worship of god is Buddha here. It is located on an elevated hill, hence view from this place looks awesome.
- Entry Fees: Free.
- Timing: 6 AM to 6 PM.
There are lot more temples in Puri, even Sri Jagannath’s Masir Bari, Pisir Bari (Aunt’s House), Sri Gour Bihara, Lingaraj Temple, etc. You will needs at least two days to visit each popular temple in Puri.
Khandagiri and Udayagiri Caves
Udayagiri and Khandagiri are two adjacent hills, houses multiple caves, 18 and 15 respectively. Local says that Jain Sadhus used to live in these caves. Some believe these caves are partially made by human beings. In Udaya Giri, caves are pretty evident but in Khanda Giri those are rare. If you reach on top of both the places, the view will be great. Beware of monkeys, they run before foods especially peanuts and banana.
- Entry Fees: INR 15.
- Timing: 8 AM to 5 PM.
This is the largest coastal brackish water lagoon in India & Second in the World. Chilika lake spread over 1100 sq. kilometers. It hosts some rare species of birds, fauna and sea habitats. There are multiple entries points to the lake like Satapada, Rambha, Barkul, all have their own beauties. Who loves to explore more, can visit the islands. Mangalajodi is a place near Chilika is famous for bird lovers. Although out of all these places, a tourist coming from Puri in general enter from Satapada and take few hour-long boat ride to few islands and dolphin point. I had noticed a significant change in dolphin count a few years back.
- Entry Fees: Approx INR 200.
- Timing: 7:30 AM to 5 PM.
- Best Time to visit: 8 AM to 12 PM.
- Duration: Approx 2 to 3 hours.
Facts about Chilika Lake
- Chilka is the largest brackish water lagoon of India, covers an area of 1165 sq.kms (rainy season) to 906 sq.kms (summer season).
- About 1 million birds of 225 species come to Chilika in winter every year.
The highest population of Irrawaddy dolphins (lagoon population) in the world, is seen in Chilika.
- Chilika receives water from 52 rivers & rivulets and the Bay of Bengal.
- This is a very shallow lagoon, the depth of water varies from 0.38 m to 6.2 m.
- More than 267 species of fish, 29 species of shrimps & Prawns, and 35 species of crabs are seen in Chilika.
Certainly, it is one of the biggest zoological parks in India, made inside a jungle. You have options for safari, botanical garden, boating, aquarium, rope-way, and whatnot. This zoo is also famous for its white tiger. If you want to explore, you may hire local guides as well for a nominal cost and yes, they are registered with a predefined fee. Below are a few useful links to collect info directly from the official website.
Oh! Importantly, you can buy tickets online @ https://www.nandankanan.org/tickets/
Other Important Links for Nandankanan
Tickets & Pricing: https://www.nandankanan.org/ticket.php
Zoo guide: https://www.nandankanan.org/zoo-guide.php
Zoo timings: https://www.nandankanan.org/visiting-hours.php
Nandakanan Special: https://www.nandankanan.org/nandankanan-special.php
Pro tips: Please don’t forget to capture beautiful animals and be disciplined with animals.
Raghurajpur, Pipli Village
This two village is popular for the artistic handicraft items, locals make. If you like anything to purchase from them as a gesture of kindness.
Fooding options in Puri
Food is something that should never be compromised on a trip. In Puri & Bhubaneswar, you will find good Chinese, Mughlai & Bengali foods. Although there are many good restaurants like Bhojohori Manna, Tandoori Bites, Made in China, etc to go for. But if you are on a tight budget try puri-sabji in breakfast and Bengali meal from local shops, they cost very less. In case you want to cook your own food, you have that provision too if you are staying at holiday homes.
Transportation for Local Sightseeing
Nearest railway station Puri will be in a 5-kilometer range from the furthest hotels and Biju Patnaik Airport is approx 50 kilometers away.
You have plenty of options for transit, Auto, cab, buses, etc. If you are alone or two, try OTDC bus day-tour which is budget-friendly and cover almost everything on the route. In case you are in a group of 4-8 people try cab rental but always remember to list all the spots you want to visit and finalize the rate.
Pro-tip, you can book an all-day-long tour at once to get a discount and finally do a bargain. Whatever you chose for day-long tours bus or cab, for half a day tour or temple visits book an auto to save some extra bucks.
Famous Things to buy in Puri
Orisha is famous for Sambalpuri & Kotki sarees, sticks, mats, Khaja, etc. There are many shops near the Swargodwar, do remember to check products thoroughly before purchase and bargaining is up to you. You may also visit government handicraft stalls to get something exclusive. If you love handicraft items, do visit artistic villages Pipli & Raghurajpur. Don’t forget to buy a small thing as a memento at least which will definitely help to rejoice old memories later on.
Suggested Itinerary (Cab/Auto):
- Day 1: Reach Puri in the morning, sea bath. Then visit local temples (preferably by Auto) except Jagannath Temple.
- Day 2: Visit the Sri Jagannath Temple early morning and later Chilka Lake.
- Day 3: Day-long tour (Dhaulagiri (Shanti Stupa)), Lingaraj Temple, Khandagiri, Udaygiri, Nandankanan and finally Konark Temple.
- Day 4: Visit Pipli & Raghurajpur village. Later local shopping.
Note: You can merge Day 4 with Day 3 in case you have less time in hand. But it will be a hectic day for sure. The above itinerary is not for Bus, cause they have their own package. Check below for more details.
Important Links for Official Sightseeing Packages
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