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The Sri Gour Vihar Ashrama, at first glance, might seem like your typical Hindu Vaishnav temple, but upon visiting this fabulous location you come to realise its unique charm that sets it apart from all other temples and places of worship. It is located on Gitanjali Road near the Baliapanda Housing Board Colony on the outskirts of Puri and any Tourist or Devotee visiting Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri would never miss coming here. This temple is said to be around 150 years old and the unique thing about this temple is that it is dedicated to all the major gods and goddesses of Saivaite and Vaishnavism.

A Brief History of this Wonderous Temple

The story behind the Sri Gour Vihar Ashrama connects to a saint and social reformer by the name of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Image Credit: AmlanBiswal25 for Wikipedia

Although there are varying myths and stories about the origin of this temple, the most popular one connects to a man named Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He was a saint and social reformer who lived towards the latter half of the 16th century. Many also considered him to be an incarnation of The Hindu god Krishna. He was known to frequent the town of Puri, which played a central role in his spiritual activities. The ashram is deeply influenced by the Bhakti movement, which was spearheaded by Saint Mahaprabhu. His teachings emphasized the importance of devotion to Lord Krishna, congregational chanting and the equality of all devotees regardless of their caste or social status.

Over the years, the ashram has grown into a hub for spiritual education and practices and also serves as a retreat for devotees seeking spiritual solace and their aims to preserve the legacy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings. Although the great saint was mainly devoted to Lord Krishna, he thoroughly emphasised the importance of multi-deity worship. His teachings tell us that Hinduism as a religion comprises of a plethora of deities, all of whom played a certain role in the creation of the universe, meaning they all deserved the same amount of respect, devotion and worship from the followers of this religion. This ashram and its unique theme find its roots in that very statement of his, which led to the creation of this centre of spirituality.

Must Read: Places To Visit In Puri

A Hub Of Spirituality In A Materialistic World

The sun Konark Temple at Puri, a world UNESCO heritage site

Image Credit: ANINDITA PAL for Wikimedia Commons

This temple is a must-visit attraction for all tourists and devotees travelling to Puri. Its distinctive conglomeration of different deities and various sculptures is placed neatly in an orderly way in a huge area so that it attracts attention and brings a sense of sacredness to the minds of any devotees visiting here. This ashram is named after Saint Gouranga who generally followed the Vaishnavaite Tradition. There are multiple Statues of Lord Jagannath, Lord Ram and Lord Krishna present in a single courtyard arranged in a semi-circle formation. Likewise, a statue of Meera singing Bhajans to lord Krishna can also be found on the premises. There is a statue of Buddha and a huge Black Shivalingam next to it, which shows us the undying diversity of this stunning ashram. There is a huge golden-coloured statue of Hanumanji found chanting the Ram Dhun, which is a mantra to summon the lord.

The entire Temple Premises is run and maintained by the Sri Gour Vihar Spiritual Charitable Trust of Puri. There is also a Temple Tank which doubles as a pond in which Goddess Mahalakshmi is found. It is said that her spirit still flows through those waters, blessing the devotees who come to visit her. Next to it is a replica of the Gajendra Moksh which depicts Lord Vishnu saving an Elephant from a Crocodile. A colourful statue of Lakshmi Narasimha encapsulates the true beauty of this place. There are statues in sitting postures for Saints Adi Sankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Nimbakacharya, Madwacharya and Ballabacharya, positioned under a peepal tree. A boat is afloat in a lake with Meera singing the Krishna Bhajan and Lord Krishna seated by her side. Close to it is an infant Krishna found floating on a huge leaf without getting sunk, which draws inspiration from ancient folklore of the great deity. Also, the Devars and the Asuras are seen holding a giant Serpent and churning the massive ocean, which is a household legend of how the gods and the demons came together to churn the milk of the ocean to attain immortality. All these statues, depictions and idols at this temple complex leave its visitors in a sense of awe at the multitude of deities and divine energy that can be felt here.

Places To Visit In And Around This Ashram

From the enchantingly beautiful Konark Sun Temple to the Atharanala Bridge. Check out these amazing places to visit around Sri Gour Vihar Ashrama.

1. Konark Sun Temple

Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century Hindu Sun Temple at Konark

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Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century Hindu Sun temple at Konark about 35 kilometres northeast of Puri city on the coastline in Puri district, Odisha. Dedicated to the Hindu Sun-god Surya, what remains of the temple complex has the appearance of a 100-foot-high chariot with immense wheels and horses, all carved from stone. It once stood at over 200 feet high but due to the elements and poor maintenance most of this structure sits in ruins today, in particular the large shikara tower over the sanctuary; at one time this rose much higher than the mandapa that remains. The structures and elements that have survived are famed for their intricate artwork, iconography, and themes. The cause of the destruction of the Konark temple is unclear and still remains a source of controversy. Theories range from natural damage to the deliberate destruction of the temple by Muslim armies between the 15th and 17th centuries. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, it remains a major pilgrimage site for Hindus, who gather here every year during major festivals.

Suggested Read: Things To Do In Puri

2. Jagannath Temple

The Jagannath Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Jagannath, a form of the Hindu god Vishnu

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The Jagannath Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Jagannath, a form of the Hindu god Vishnu. As per temple records, King Indradyumna of Avanti built the main temple of Jagannath at Puri. The present temple was rebuilt from the tenth century onwards, on the site of the pre-existing temples in the compound, but not the main Jagannath temple. The local legends link the idols with aboriginal tribes of the region. The temple is famous for its annual Ratha Yatra, or chariot festival, in which the three principal deities are pulled on huge and elaborately decorated temple cars. Unlike the stone and metal icons found in most Hindu temples, the image of Jagannath is made of wood and is ceremoniously replaced every 12 to 19 years by an exact replica. It is also famous because many legends believe that Krishna’s heart was placed here, and the material that it is made from damages the heart, so they have to change it every seven years.

3. Atharanala Bridge

Atharanala is a historic laterite stone bridge over the Madhupurstream

Image Credit: Oo91 for Wikipedia

Atharanala is a historic laterite stone bridge over the Madhupurstream at the entrance to the city of Puri. According to the report of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, the structure was assigned to the second half of the 18th century AD when the town was under Maratha rule, based on architectural ground and building materials. The present bridge has been placed directly on top of the structure, which started as early as the 13th century AD. The Atharanala bridge was reconstructed for proper discharge of surplus water of that time Saradhar rivulet with an additional culvert thus increasing its total number to nineteen. Atharanala Bridge is made of laterite and lime mortar with an ashlar masonry building technique, in a medieval architectural scheme of pillars and arches. It is oriented from north to south. The bridge spreads over a length of 85 meters and breadth of 11 meters and encompasses eighteen arches ranging from seven to sixteen feet across. The bridge offers a spectacular long-distance panoramic view of the Jagannath Temple.

Further Read: Offbeat Places In Puri

The Sri Gour Vihar Ashrama is a one-of-a-kind spiritual centre that encapsulates the best of our country’s rich historical and cultural heritage. So do keep these locations and facts in mind when planning your trip to Puri.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Sri Gour Vihar Ashrama

Where is the Sri Gour Vihar Ashrama located?

The Sri Gour Vihar Ashrama is located around 6 km from the main town of Puri. Its official address is QQXR+9MM, Puri, Sipasurubili, Odisha 752001.

Who founded the Sri Gour Vihar Ashrama?

This ashram was founded by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a revered saint and social activist of the 16th century.

How far is the Sri Gour Vihar Ashrama from Bangalore?

The ashram is almost 1500km away from Bangalore, which is a 26-hour drive. It is advised to make this trip by train or flight.

Who is the main deity at the Sri Gour Vihar Ashram?

There is no main deity or God that this temple is dedicated to. It is a confluence of all the main deities and gods of the Vaishnav sect of the Hindu religion.

Why are there so many different gods worshipped at the Sri Gour Vihar Ashrama?

That is because this temple was built on the belief that all gods in the Hindu religion should be given equal respect and devotion for the roles they played in the creation of the universe.

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Category: Odisha, Places To Visit, Temples

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