Orissa News

Similes between Jajpur and Puri

Maa Biraja of JajpurJajpur with Maa Biraja and Puri with Lord Jagannath have been the focal point of Orissa’s cultural landscape for long. Although Jajpur can claim to a history older than that of Puri, her influence over the period of time has waned considerably. This doesn’t, however take away from her the great cultural heritage that she has inherited. Today though Jajpur is known more for Maa Biraja, during the bygone days it had been the epicenter of Vaishnavite and Brahmanical upsurge. Some historians also opine that Jajpur had been a favored destination for the construction of the Jagannath temple which was later built in Puri. This, according to some historians was done on the advice of the then Snakracharya of Govardhan Muth of Puri. Although there are no historical evidences to avouch the same, there are astonishing similes between Jajpur and Puri that give some credence to such claim.

The structure Atharnala Bridge that so prominently declares the arrival of the Jagannath Kshetra in Puri is also present in Birajakshetra, just a few meters away from the Biraja Temple. Now the connection between the two bridges is not only limited to the name”Atharnalla”. The bridges were built in the same order and surprisingly are of the same design. This striking feature of two different structures at two different places but with common feature suggests that they have been possibly built by the same monarch.

Lord JagannathSecondly the existence of Maa Mangala shrine on the roadside of both these places is another astonishing pointer to this great similarity. At Jajpur the shrine of Maa Mangala is located on the left side of the main road that heads towards Binjharpur. The shrine of Bata Mangala lies just before the Atharnala bridge in Puri and it is preferred to have a darshan of the Mother before one goes and visits Lord Jagannath.

The third simile that attracts one’s attention is the temple itself. There is a magnificent Jagannath temple in Jajpur as well that stands near the Daswamedha Ghat and was built by the Ganga King Anangbhimadeva. The structure at Puri has been assigned to the same period 11th-12th century AD, which was built by King Chodagangadev. Both the structures apart from the deity have striking similarities in the plan and layout. The most glaring similarity between the two being the Muktimandap that is present in both the Jagannath temple of Puri as well as that of Jajpur. The structure at Jajpur, is claimed by some to have been originally meant to have been the seat of Lord Jagannath.

The fourth simile between the two is the preparation and publication of Panjis. There are two Panjikas (calendar) that are avidly followed by the people for keeping track of festivals and occasions; one being the Jagannath Panjika and the other being the Biraja Panjika. Although each of them accentuates the various ceremonies and festivals associated with their respective deities, the existence of a separate Panjika for Maa Biraja is another feature that signifies her glory and greatness.

Jagannath temple at ChhatiaAnother pointer that per local belief will happen sometimes in the future is that the images Lord Jagannath along with His siblings would be transferred to Chatia ( Jajpur district). A Jagannath temple at Chatia especially for this purpose of receiving the Lord is ready at the site. When this great event, as per local belief, would happen, sea would come rushing towards Jajpur and Japur would become the next Jagannathkshetra. Although there is no basis to such tales, the belief as per local folklore is continuing from the day the decision to enshrine the Jagannath images in Puri was taken.

All the facts above might not be strong enough to render the conclusion that Jajpur was actually menat to be the original seat of Lord Jagannath. However one can safely deduce that the relevance of the place in the cultural and religious map of the Oriya people in the bygone days had been resolute.