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Puri

Puri attracts many visitors throughout the year, most of whom are pilgrims drawn to the area as Puri is considered to be a very holy destination. Tourists come here to watch the fascinating swirl of pilgrims during festival time, with the added bonus that Puri has a long sweep of beach, perfect for walks and paddling amongst the surf-crested waves.

The beach is set up with loungers and parasols, and here the practice of sand art is growing in popularity. Artists come to the beach every day to carve sand sculptures of gods and deities, which are washed clean by the tides to be created afresh the following day.

Puri is home to the world famous Jagannath Temple. Although closed to non-Hindus, visitors can see the impressive spire topped with a flag. According to legend, the flag is changed every day by a priest who clambers up the tall spire without support. The annual Ratha Yatra festival sees hundreds of pilgrims congregate here to participate in the chariot procession, where deities are carried to the river in wooden Rathas (chariots) to perform rituals.

At the Swargarda cremation grounds visitors can get a fascinating glimpse into the customs of the Hindu populations who choose this holy place to cremate their loved ones. After visiting the Swargarda cremation ground many pilgrims bathe at the palm-tree lined Markandeya Tank to purify themselves in holy water.

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