Jagannath temple located in Orissa is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India. The temple is known worldwide for its festivals and customs. Lord Jagannath is Lord Krishna and Jagannath temple is the only temple where Krishna is worshipped along with his siblings Balabhadra or Balarama and Subhadra.
There are various legends attached to the origin of this sacred temple. Lord Krishna was the eighth avatar of Supreme Lord Vishnu. Krishna was hit by an arrow on his leg by a hunter who confused Krishna's leg with that of a deer's ear. Krishna left his mortal body henceforth. His funeral rites were carried by Arjuna. However, Krishna's heart being divine did not burn. The priest suggested that the heart should be tied to a log of wood and put in the sea. Arjuna followed his instructions and placed Krishna's heart tied to a log in the sea.
This log traveled from Dwarka to the eastern part of India. The log was now seen by a tribal king named Biswabasu. Krishna's heart had turned into a bluestone by now. The moment Biswa saw this stone he knew that this was something divine. He placed the stone in the forests and started worshipping it. He named the stone as NeelMadhava. Soon people started talking about this magical idol. A King named Indradyumna also came to know about this. He was a staunch Vishnu devotee and wanted to build a sacred temple for the Lord. He ordered his priest Vidyapati to find Biswa and find the NeelMadhava idol for him.
Vidyapati knew that king Biswa would never agree to show him where the idol was. Vidyapati decided to enchant Biswa's daughter. Vidyapati succeeded in his efforts and married Biswa's daughter. Now as a son in law he demanded to see the idol from Biswa. Biswa couldn’t deny his request this time. He agreed but asked Vidyapati to blindfold himself so that he remains unaware of the path to the idol. Vidyapati agreed but was clever and hence kept mustard seeds in his hand. He kept throwing the seeds during the journey. Finally, upon reaching the spot, Biswa unfolded his eyes and Vidyapati saw the idol.
They came back and now Vidyapati waited for the seeds to turn into mustard flowers. Soon the flowers sprang. He immediately visited Indradyumna and told him that he now knew the way to the divine idol. Indradyumna along with his soldiers went to that spot following the mustard flowers. However, upon reaching the spot they were disappointed. The idol had mysteriously vanished from there.
Indradyumna got depressed. He gave up food and water and started meditating upon Lord Vishnu. Pleased with his devotion Lord Vishnu appeared in his dreams and told him that he needs to go to the seashore and find a huge piece of wood floating in the sea. The wood will have the marking of chakra, mace, conch, and lotus. This wood should be used to make four idols of Lord Krishna as Jagannath, Balabhadra or Balarama, Subhadra, and Sudarshan chakra.
Acting upon the dream, the king rushed to the seashore and found the magical log. He immediately placed it in the temple. He called all the sculptors and artisans for carving idols from the wood. However, none of them succeeded as the wood was very strong to cut. One day lord Vishwakarma disguised himself as a sculptor and visited the king. He said to the king that he shall make the idols for him. However, he put a condition that he should be left alone with the wood for twenty-one days in a room. No one should open the room during this period. The king agreed and locked the sculptor along with the wood in a room. On the fifteenth day, the king got anxious and opened the door. The sculptor had disappeared into thin air. He had left behind three unfinished idols. The idols just had broad faces with round eyes and had no limbs. The king was guilty of his act. However, Lord Brahma appeared in his dreams and told him that Lord Vishnu is very pleased with idols and that they should be placed in the temple as it is. Finally, the temple was built which got famous as the Jagannatha temple worldwide.
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