Gundicha temple is situated at the end of Badadanda or Grand Road, to the northeast of the main Jagannath temple. It is at a distance of around two kilometers from the Jagannath temple. Within the Gundicha Temple, there is a ‘Mahavedi’ where the deities of Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subhadra had appeared in Satya Yuga during the time of King Indradyumna. The Gundicha temple is identified as the birthplace of Lord Jagannath and is named after King Indradyumna’s wife, Gundicha Maharani. It was in this area that King Indradyumna had performed a thousand Ashwamedha Yajnas. Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra along with Sudarshan, leave Jagannatha Mandira for nine days. They travel to the Gundicha on the Ratha Yatra day, reside there for seven days, and then on the ninth day, they return to the main temple.
This Journey is also known as Gundicha Yatra, Nava Dina Yatra (nine days Journey), or Ghosa Yatra. It is very auspicious to attain the darshan of Jagannatha during this time. Darshan of Jagannatha during His stay at Gundicha temple is known as ‘Adapa Darshan’. It is mentioned in the scriptures that the darshan of Lord Jagannatha at Gundicha is ten times more spiritually beneficial than taking His darshan at the main Nilachala temple (main temple).
The place where the Gundicha temple is situated is also known as Sundarachala. It is compared to Vrindavan. Gundicha is surrounded by lush gardens and tall coconut trees. Fragrant flowers and shady trees create a Vrindavan-like atmosphere which Lord Jagannath enjoys for 7 days before returning to Jagannath Mandira during Bahuda Yatra (Ulta Rath).
Gundicha is a typical Kalinga temple and has four main components – Vimana (tower housing sanctum), Jagamohana (assembly hall), Nata Mandapa (festive hall), and bhoga Mandapa (Prasadam offering hall). The Kitchen is attached to the main temple via a small passage. The Gundicha temple has no activity throughout the year except for the nine days when the Ratha Yatra takes place and Lord Jagannath resides here.
Gundicha Marjana Pastime of Sri Chaitanya :
Gundicha Marjana is the exercise of cleansing of the Gundicha temple to welcome Lord Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subhadra who would stay there for the next seven days. Gundicha Marjana takes place a day before the Rath Yatra festival commences. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had Himself taken part in cleaning the Gundicha temple during His stay in Jagannath Puri. While cleaning the Gundicha temple, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu incessantly chanted the names of Krishna and shed tears of love. At times He cleansed the temple with His tears. His entire body became covered with dust and in this way, He appeared transcendentally beautiful. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gathered all the straws, dust, and grains, collected them in His cloth, and threw them outside the temple premises. All the other devotees who cleaned the temple would follow His example. Through Gundicha Marjana, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu instructed us on how to welcome Lord Krishna in our hearts. If we are desiring to see Krishna seated within our hearts, we should begin by cleansing our hearts of all abominations.
Even though all the devotees assembled their dirt in a single pile, the dirt gathered by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was much larger. After cleaning the temple of its dirt, Sri Chaitanya personally washed the Gundicha temple with hundreds of waterpots. One fortunate devotee, who stayed hidden, had the immense fortune of drinking the water that had washed the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya. After the rooms were washed, the water was let out through an outlet, and it then flowed and filled the yard outside. The Lord mopped the rooms and polished the throne with His own clothes. In this way, all the rooms were cleansed with a hundred waterpots. The minds of the devotees also became as clean as the rooms. Hundreds were engaged in bringing in the water and taking away empty pots to fill them up with water again. There was no place left to stand on the bank of the lake. Consequently, devotees began drawing water from a well as well. It appeared as though Lord Chaitanya was cleansing and washing the Gundicha temple with hundreds of hands. He praised the devotees who were engaged in cleaning nicely while chastising those who were not serving to His satisfaction. Thus everyone began working with great concentration. There was another devotee from Bengal, who approached the Lord during this time and washed His feet. Thereafter He drank that charanamrita himself. Lord Chaitanya became outwardly angry and rebuked the devotee. Thereafter, Svarupa Damodara caught the devotee and made him stay outside the Gundicha temple. All the quarters of the Gundicha temple became spotless after cleaning. Outside the temple, all the roads were also cleansed, and no one could explain exactly how this was done. Lord Chaitanya then also cleaned the Nrsimha deva temple. After resting for a few minutes, the Lord began dancing.
When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu danced, the divine symptoms of perspiration, shivering, fading, tears, triumph and roaring manifested in His body. His tears, that poured like rains in monsoon, washed His body and the bodies of those around Him. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu then ordered Gopal, Sri Advaita Acharya’s son to dance. While dancing in ecstatic love, Gopal fainted and fell unconscious. When Gopal did not wake up, all the devotees became agitated. Seeing that he was not breathing, Advaita Acharya began to cry. Then Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu placed His hands on the chest of Gopal and loudly exclaimed, ‘Gopal, stand up!’ As soon as Gopala heard the voice of Sri Chaitanya, he immediately returned to his senses. All the devotees then began to dance, chanting the holy name of Hari. Thereafter all the devotees bathed and sat down to honor Maha-prasadam.
Hera Panchami festival
Hera Panchami (Hera- to see; Panchami – fifth) is one of the principal rituals that is observed at the Gundicha temple. It is celebrated on the fifth day (Panchami) of the Rath yatra festival and attracts a large number of devotees. While Lord Jagannath visits the Gundicha temple during Rath Yatra, His consort Lakshmi stays behind at the main temple in Puri. On the Hera Panchami day, an angry Lakshmi devi arrives at Gundicha, in the form of Subarna Maha-Lakshmi, wanting to take Her husband back. She is brought inside the Gundicha in a palanquin, worshipped by the priests, and thereafter taken to meet with Jagannath. The couple is seated face-to-face in the sanctum of the Gundicha temple.
Lakshmi requests Lord Jagannath to return home and the Lord finally gives His consent by offering Her agyan mala (a garland of consent), which She accepts and leaves for the main temple in the evening. On Her way back, Lakshmi devi expresses Her anger by ordering one of her attendants to damage a part of Lord Jagannath’s chariot, Nandighosha. This custom is known as Ratha-Bhanga (breaking of the chariot). After this, She hides behind a tamarind tree outside the Gundicha temple and later escapes secretly through a different route known as Hera Gohri Lane, as She is scared of the consequences of Her reckless act.
How to Reach :
Gundicha is situated at a distance of just 3 kilometers from the main Jagannath temple in Puri. It is located at the end of Badadanda or Grand Road. The place is quite renowned and one can avail cabs to reach here directly.
Accommodation – One can choose to stay in any of the prominent hotels of Jagannath Puri.
Nearest Railway station – Jagannath Puri Railway Station
Nearest major airport – Biju Patnaik International Airport, Bhubaneswar.
At the time of writing this article, there is another airport presently being constructed at Jagannath Puri. However, this airport at Puri has not yet become operational.