- Jagannath Mandir Area
Lonely Planet review for Jagannath Mandir
This mighty temple belongs to Jagannath, Lord of the Universe and incarnation of Vishnu. The jet- black deity with large, round, white eyes is hugely popular across Orissa. Built in its present form in 1198, the temple (closed to non-Hindus) is surrounded by two walls; its 58m-high sikhara (spire) is topped by the flag and wheel of Vishnu.
Guarded by two stone lions and a pillar crowned by the Garuda that once stood at the Sun Temple at Konark, the eastern entrance, or Lion Gate, is the passageway for the chariot procession of Rath Yatra. The southern, western and northern gates are guarded by statues of men on horseback, tigers and elephants, respectively.
Jagannath, brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra reside supreme in the central jagamohan (assembly hall). The brothers have arms but no hands, while smaller Subhadra, sitting in between, has neither. Priests continually garland and dress the three throughout the day for different ceremonies. Incredibly, the temple employs about 6000 men to perform the complicated rituals involved in caring for the gods. An estimated 20,000 people - divided into 36 orders and 97 classes - are dependent on Jagannath for their livelihood. The kitchen, with 400 cooks, is reportedly the largest in the world.