Puri enjoys the status of being one of the major pilgrim destinations for the Hindus. There are a number of holy places in Puri among which some a few temples enjoy a special pride of place. The Jagannath Temple and the Gundicha Mandir are two such temples that are highly revered by the devotees.
The Jagannath Temple enjoys a primary importance among the holy places in Puri. The temple, dedicated to Lord Jagannath, is one of the finest specimens of the Orissan architectural style. The construction of the original temple was completed by the 12th century AD. Initially, the temple consisted of only the Sanctum and the Audience Hall. It was later that the Dance Hall and the Hall of Offering were added to the main temple. The temple complex sprawls across an area of 400000 square feet and is bastioned by a sturdy wall, about 20 feet high. The temple complex incorporates as many as 120 smaller temples and shrines. The sanctum is graced by the idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. The idols are beautifully decked up with all the fineries and ornaments. The temple has 6000 priests serving it along with 10,000 other. No wonder, it is counted among one of the most popular of Puri holy places. Elaborate worship services are conducted with much piety and devotion, on a daily basis. The temple is characterized by a flurry of activities during the Chariot Festival which is one of the most grand and spectacular events.
The Gundicha Mandir also features among the popular holy places in Puri. Situated at the end of the Grand Road, the temple is not far from the Jagannath Temple. During the Ratha Yatra or the Chariot Festival, Lord Jagannath is transported to the Gundicha Temple where he enjoys a short sojourn before returning back to the original temple. The temple is constructed in the midst of a beautiful garden. A ritual washing of the temple is done one day prior to the Chariot Festival.