Puri District or ପୁରୀ ଜିଲ୍ଲା is a coastal district of the Odisha state of India, famous for its historic antiquities, religious sanctuaries, architectural grandeur, sea-scape beauty, and its moderate climate. It holds a wealth of attractions for visitors. It boasts a continuous history from the 3rd century B.C. to the present, and unique monuments such as those of Lord Jagannath at Puri, and the Sun God at Konark. It has the Chilika Lake, the largest brackish water lakes in India, that holds a picturesque sea-scape beauty. It offers an ideal resort for birds who migrate from different parts of the continent. By virtue of its geographical location, the climate of Puri is equable throughout the year.
History of Puri District
Under Mughal Rule (1592–1751), Odisha for the purpose of revenue administration was divided into three circars, namely Jaleswar, Bhadrak and kataka each of which Under Mughal was subdivided into Bishis. Puri formed a part of kataka circar. After their occupation of Odisha in 1751, the Marathas brought about some changes in the revenue divisions of the province . They divided Odisha, which then extended from the river Suvarnarekha in the north to the lake Chilika in the south, into five Chakalas viz. (I) Pipli, (II) Kataka (III)Soro, (IV) Balasore. The Chakala of Pipli comprised major portions of the modern district of Puri. The Chakalas were divided into parganas into Mahals or Taluqs. The conquest of Odisha by the British in 1803 set fourth great changes in revenue divisions and political relations . In June 1804, the province was divided into two divisions, namely the Northern and Southern Divisions, the river Mahanadi forming the boundary. Robert Ker and Charles Groeme were appointed as Judge, Magistrate and collector in Northern and Southern Divisions respectively. By 1805 both divisions were amalgamated and G.Webb succeeded Groene as collector and Robert Ker became the Judge and Magistrate of the whole province.
As the Raja of Khurdha revolted the 1804, he was arrested and was placed in confinement in the Fort of Barabati at Cuttack. His territory was confiscated and the Raja was subsequently released. In 1807 he was permitted to live at Balisahi in the town of Puri and functioned as superintendent of the temple of Jagannath. Puri was the capital of the province of Odisha and the headquarters of the collector, till 1816. In 1806 there was a proposal to remove the headquarters to Jajpur, but it didn’t get Government sanction. In August 1814, a part of the collectors establishment was removed to Cuttack, which was again brought back to Puri in December. By 1816 the headquarters was permanently shifted to Cuttack which was Headquarters during Moghal and Marathas. By 1818 the office of the commissioner was established and Robert Ker became the first commissioner. From 1813 to 1819 there was a joint Magistrate at Puri with the jurisdiction over the Thana of Pipli, Gop, Hariharpur and Kiran. By 1819 this office was abolished and the joint magistrate of Khurdha was given the charge of the above thanas. On 11 February 1822, the office of the joint magistrate of Khurdha was abolished and Odisha was again divided into two divisions with the river Baitarani as the dividing line. Willkinson, the collector of Cuttack, was placed in charge of Cuttack and Khurdha and Ricketts with powers of a collector was given the charge of Balasore and Bhadrak.
Finally on 23 October 1828, the province was divided into three districts, namely Balaore, Cuttack and Jagannath, later known as Puri. Regulation IV of 1821 had provided that the power of a magistrate and collector might be vested in one and the same person and accordingly are magistrate and collector was appointed in each of the above three districts. H. Ricketts, R. Hunter and W. Willkinson were the first magistrate and collectors of Balasore, Cuttack and puri districts respectively.
In 1912 the new province of Bihar and Orissa was formed. Subsequently Orissa become a separate province in 1936. After integration with Orissa an 1 January 1948 of the feudatry states of Nayagarh, Daspalla, Khandapara and Ranapur with a total area of 3941 1st km. a separate Sub-Division comprising these ex-states was added to Puri District with headquarters at Nayagarh. The fourth Sub-Division of Bhubaneswar was carried out on 26 January 1959. The old Puri District consisted of four Sub-Division i.e. Puri Sadar, Khurdha, Bhubaneswar and Nayagarh, Puri Sadar Sub-Division consists of four Tahasils i.e. 1) Krushna Prasad 2) Sadar 3) Pipili, 4) Nimapara.
Again by the year 1995 the Puri District was divided into 3 Districts:
- Nayagarh District comprises Nayagarh Sub-Division.
- Khordha District comprises Khuradha and Bhubaneswar Sub-Division and
- Puri District comprises Puri Sadar Sub-Division only.
Culture and Tradition of Puri District
Puri is one of the fascinating littoral district of Odisha. The Cultural heritage of Puri with its long recorded history beginning from third century B.C. till present day, The monuments and religious sanctity, way of life of the people with their rich tradition possess emphatically to be the cultural heart of Odisha. In deed Puri is consider cultural capital of Odisha. The culture here is flourished with its manifold activities.
The District has the happy conglomeration of different religions, sects and faith in course of history. Majority of the people are Hindus. The other important communities like Muslims, Sikhs, jains, Christians and tribals found here in the District. The Hindu monuments of various sectors like Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Sakti cult, Ganapatya, Mahabir etc. are found. Similarly Muslim Mosques, Christian Churches are also noticed here.
The important monuments of the District are :-
- Jagannath Temple (Puri)
- Gundicha Temple, Puri
- Lokanatha Temple, Puri
- Jambeswar temple, Puri
- Sapta Matruka images near Markandeswar tank Puri
- Sun Temple, Konark
- Barahi Temple, at Chourasi, in Nimapara Block.
- Mangala Temple, Kakatpur
- Sakhigopal Temple, at Sakhigopal
- Amareswar Temple, at Amareswar, Nimapara Block
- Sculpture shed at Bishnupur, Nimapara
- Gramswar Temple, Terundia, Nimapara
- Alarnath Temple, Brahamgiri
- Baliharachandi Temple, Brahamagiri,Block
- Kunteswar Temple, Araorh, Pipili Block
- Harihar Temple, near Pipili
- Shiva Temple, Jagadalpur at Delang Block
- Tara image at Badatara, Gop
- Bayalisbati Temple, near Gop
- Mohabir Temple, Siruli Sadar Block
- Sri Sri Bakreswar Temple at Balanga, Nimapara block
- Baba Balunkeswar Temple at Arisandha, Nimapara Block
Traditional Fairs and Festivals in Puri
It is said that 13 festivals are celebrated in calendar year relating to Lord Jagannath. Some important festivals related of Lord Jagannath and others are listed below.
- Car Festival (Ratha Yatra) in July
- Chandan Yatra in April
- Gosani Yatra, Dasahara in Sept./Oct.
- Sahi Yatra for 7 days from Rama Navami in March/April
- Maha Shivaratri in February in all the Shaiva Pithas
- Magha mela at Konark in January
- Boita Bandan at Konark in Oct./Nov.
- Harirajpur Melan at Harirajpur in March
- Jhamu Yatra at Kakatpur in May
- Dayana chori at Ghorodia in Pipili Block
- Amla Navami at Sakshigopal in March
- Makar Mela at Chilika in January
- Baliharachandi Mela during Raja Festival in June at Brahmagiri
- Anavasara at Alarnatha Mandira, Brahamagiri.
- Siruli Mahavir Mela during Pana Sankranti- Siruli, Sadar Block in April
- Panchudola BALANGA Melan at Balanga Melan field, Nimapara block in March and at Arisandha, Niamapada -specialty in Arisandha GP on this day is Holi plays on this day.
Other Festivals for Tourists
- Konark festival- Deptt of Tourism- Government of Odisha- 1st week of December
- Konark Music & Dance Festival- Konark Natya Mandap- February
- Basant Utshav- Parampara Raghurajpur- February
- Puri Beach Festival at Puri- Organised by Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha – November
- Sri Ksetra Mohotsav, Puri- Organised by Sri Kshetra Mahoshav committee – April
- Gundicha Utsav at Puri- Organised by Urreka, Puri – June
Dance and Music in Puri
Ancient cultures of Puri have the most expressive forms of music and dance. These two highly evolved art forms have manifested themselves in some of the most evocative and celebrated performances from and not only the professional classical exponents but also from the various folk and tribal groups.
What also comes to light is the important revelation that the cult of the “Devadasi” or female temple dancers was not only pre-valent to the temples in central and south India, but also existed in Odisha in a highly sophisticated form. The more talented devadasi are selected for training in the secret arts of the temple dance “Odissi” which today has become a highly stylized and elegant dance form. The devadashis were used to dance for lord Jagannath with the songs from Jayadev’s Gita Govinda. After the abolition of devadasi system, this dance becomes the most developed classical dance form of the State. Padmashri Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra is the legend of the particular dance form.
The Mahari Dance
Limb linking service of the Lord Jagannath, Who is very much fond of music and song is the action and pride of ‘Mahari’ tradition. Mahari Tradition of the Sri Mandira is the beautiful Parijata flower of art an history of Utkal. It also enlightened the national culture by its fragrance and the touch. It has been doing so far from the time immortal. It has made the art of Utkal glorious. Mahari tradition is the same and one union of Lord Jagannath and great Nari Mahari. Mahari Dance coming from the Nata temple of the temple has reached and extended to the stage and shastriya Odissi dance.
Gotipua is a fascinating folk dance of Puri Where boys below 14 years clad in female dress dance to the tune at the music. The acrobatic poses attached to the dance enthralls the audience. This dance is becoming very popular. The Gotipua team of Raghurajpur has earned much reputation.
Naga and Medha dance
Here the dancer put a mask on his head and dance to the rhythm of the enchanting music. The medhas of Ravan, Trisira, Navasira etc. and Naga dance one very popular in Puri town. During Rama Navami days this dance is enacted at the streets of Puri town for seven days.
Other folk dances
Ghoda nacha, Dhuduki Nacha, Jatra, Pala, Daskathia, Bhalu Nacha, Mankada Nacha and Navrang are some other folk dances prevalent in the district.
Famous people from Puri
- Gopabandhu Das
- Nilakantha Das
- Kelucharan Mohapatra
- Manasi Pradhan
- Raghunath Mohapatra
- Sudarshan Patnaik
Blocks in Puri District, Odisha
- Krushna Prasad