The fine white sands of Puri beach and the roar of the breakers rolling in from the Bay of Bengal have fascinated visitors throughout the years. The local fishermen, with their catamarans and wide-brimmed cane hats, are also expert masseurs. With excellent hotels and guesthouses, the Puri beach is an ideal holiday spot.
However, what attracts most the tourists to this place is the majestic temple of Jagannath. Even before one enters Puri, this 65-meter-high structure makes its presence felt. The 12th-century temple built by Chodaganga, to commemorate the shifting of his capital from south to central Orissa, stands in a compound on the Nilgiri Hill, and is surrounded by a 20-foot-high wall, within which lie several smaller shrines. A traditional porch, shrine, hall of offerings and a pillared hall of dance form the rest of this temple. Unfortunately, Jagannath is not open for non-Hindus, who must contend themselves viewing it from a vantage point, outside its precincts.
Another place worth visiting is Ananda Bazar, the largest food market in the world.
Gundicha Mandir is one of the temples closely related to the festivity of the Rath Yatra of Puri. It is a holy place where God resides for seven days during the festival. This garden is regarded as the place of lord Jagannath's aunt.
Balighai Beach, 8 km from Puri, is at the mouth of the river Nuanai. It a popular picnic spot, fringed by lovely causarina trees.
Sakshi Gopal (literal meaning, the witness lord) is a place 20 km away from Puri where a life-size image of the child Krishna is being built. This was to commemorate the incident when lord Krishna came to this place as a witness to clear out a dispute of two Brahmans. Later it is said that lord liked this place so much that he decided to stay there for a while.
Another site to give a visit is the magnificent Atharnala Bridge, constructed during the 13th century.
Besides the places of the city, there are a number of tourist sites outside the city boundary.
Balighai, also known for its sea turtle research center, is located just 8 km away from the temple town.
Chilika Lake, the largest brackish water lake in Asia (65 km long, 8-20 km wide, about 2 m deep), is situated just a few kilometers away from Puri and is a place worth visiting. It has been affectionately called as the "honeymooners' paradise" and "breakfast island." The simmering blue water makes it an excellent site to have a break from the monotonous daily routine.
For someone interested in local handicrafts, a visit to the small village of Pipli near Puri is a must. This place is famous for the appliqué work of the traditional Orissa style.
Another craftsmen's village is Raghurajpur. This small village is situated just few kilometers from Puri. This place is famous for the Patta Chitra art of Orissa.
Besides these, Brahmagiri, a holy shrine; Satyabadi, another shrine and temple; and Baliharachandi are some of the sites to visit near Puri.