Sakhigopal near Puri
The Famous Sakhigopal TempleDedicated to Lord Gopal which is just another name of Lord Krishna, the temple of Sakhigopal isbelieved to be one of the medieval period temples located at the village of Sakhigopal right at the centre of the highway that connects the state capital Bhubaneshwar with Puri.
The temple of Sakhigopal is built in Kalinga architecture style and is also one of the famous tourist destinations of Odisha. The temple being very antique and hence seeks repair and maintenance work often, which is provided by the Odisha Government since year 1939.
History of SakhigopalSakhigopal is connected with several legends and mythological stories with it. It is said that once two Brahmins of the village named Vidyanagar at some part of the southern India went to the pilgrimage of Brindaban. One of the two was senior to the other and was also much elder in age. Being elderly in age he fell sick due to the travelling from southern India to the northern part till Brindaban. Hence the younger one attended him really well and took very good care of him. And in return the elder one promised the younger one keeping Lord Shree Krishna as witness that he will get him married with his daughter once he reaches home well. After reaching home and the elder got well he refused from his promise and asked the younger one to produce the proof that he promised him anything.
The younger guy was very much disheartened and he got to know that he was betrayed due to his lower caste. He then went again to Brindaban and did worship to Lord Krishna. After praying for long days Lord Krishna got pleased and appeared in front of him. He then promised the Brahmin that he will come with him to the elder Brahmin and will prove to him that he promised him that he will make him get married to his daughter. But then Lord Krishna had a condition that he will follow the Brahmin and he will not turn around to look whether Krishna is following him, and if ever he turns back, Krishna will remain there forever in form of an idol. And to make the Brahmin feel secure Lord Krishna tied Nupura, a type of bracelet tied on ankle, which will make sound and will assure the Brahmin that Krishna is following him. And then they started the journey.
Till they reached a river Godavari all was going okay and the voice of Nupura was very much audible to the Brahmin. Du to the sand on the bank of the river the sound gradually went low and he then started doubting that the Krishna is not following him anymore and after sometime he finally turned round to see whether actually Lord is after him or not, and to his surprise God was there but as he broke his commitment made to the god, Krishna then turned into an idol and remained then and there itself. The Brahmin was disheartened again and he ran to Vidyanagar and brought the villagers there and showed them the statue of Lord Krishna. The elder Brahmin also came and to his astonishment he started crying and regretted for his deeds, and got the younger Brahmin marries his daughter.
The local king of that time was very much enthusiast and full of devotion, who then constructed a huge temple and then that place was named as Sakhigopal. The work Sakhigopal is actually a combination of two Odiya words, Sakhi, which means witness and Gopal means lord Krishna. And as the incident as said above where lord Krishna was held witness for the promise made by the elder Brahmin to the younger one the place was hence named as Sakhigopal.
Sri Purusottam Dev, then king of Odisha brought the statue from Vidyanagar and placed it at his fort at Cuttack and which was worshipped by the Lord Chaitanya while he was travelling to Puri. Due to the Muslim invasion, the statue of Lord Krishna was then shifted to the province of Khurda and finally was placed at a small village called Alasa near the village Sakhigopal. Alasa is also said to be another name for the Sakhigopal which is in the present day a small village near the present day Sakhigopal. A Brahmachari, saint is believed to have raised huge donations from the people of Puri and even entire state of Odisha an had raised a huge temple of around 50 ft height.
The statue of Lord Krishna was the only idol that was established in the temple but later on the writings of Jayadev, which are widely known as Gita Govinda influenced people and they started accepting the dual sculpture of the Radha Krishna which is also known as the Jugala Murti. The idol of Goddess Radha was being established by the King of Ranpur, a part of Puri which is now established in the temple and worshiped. The idol of Lord Krishna is of around 5 ft and the idol of Goddess Radha is slightly more than 4 feet. There is a common belief among the people of Sakhigopal that on the full moon nights the miraculous Raas-Leela of Radha and Krishna along with other Gopis can be seen near the Bakulbana.
Festival of Amla Navami at SakhigopalAmla Navami Festival is the most celebrated festivals at Sakhigopal. It is a festival which is believed to be associated with the touching feet of Goddess Radha, the lover of Lord Krishna. The festival of Amla Navami is named as such due to the serving of the Amla Gooseberry on Navami, the ninth day of the lunar cycle to the deities of the temple of Sakhigopal and hence it is named as Amala Navami.
Earlier the temple had only one idol of Lord Krishna and after the incarnation of Goddess Radha in the form of a small girl named Lakshmi asked her presence in the temple and also in the Hindu mythological books it is said that the Lord Krishna cannot be complete without his beloved Radha. And hence the idol of Radha was also established in the Temple. When the statue was being established in the temple at that time the Choli and Ghagra were adorned on it but when the traditional Sari of Odisha was clad the feet of the idol were visible and the priests took this as a holy sign, and since that day the celebration of Amla Navami is being done at the temple and the pilgrims are permitted to touch the feet of the Goddess.
Daily Food Offerings to Lord Krishna at Sakhigopal TempleThere is a completely different list of food items which are being offered to the deities of the Sakhigopal temple in compared to the other temples of the state. In most of the temple of Odisha rice is the main food offered to the deities but at the Sakhigopal temple food items made of wheat are offered. The Prasad offered at the Sakhigopal is one of most exceptional offerings and the process with which the offerings are made are also said to be very unique in compare to that of the other Vishnu temples across the globe.
How to Reach SakhigopalReach by Road: Sakhigopal is connected to Puri by the National Highway 203A and it is just 17km away from the main city of Puri. Sakhigopal can also be reached from Bhubaneshwar which is 45km away from the Main city of Bhubaneswar. Daily bus services connect bothe the cities with Sakhigopal along several taxis services.
Reach by Rail: Nearest railway station to Sakhigopal is the Puri Railway station, which is around just 19 km away from Sakhigopal. Puri being one of the most famous tourist places of the Eastern India connects with all major places of the country with superfast and express trains.
Reach by Air: The nearest airport to Sakhigopal is the Biju Patnaik International Airport at Bhubaneswar, which is around 41 km away from Sakhigopal and can be reached by using the local public transport or by taxis.
Local Transport in Sakhigopal: Auto Rickshaws and Cycles Rickshaws are the best medium to travel in the areas of Sakhigopal.