Gundicha temple is popularly known as the garden house of Lord Jagannath. The famous temple is situated at a distance of about three kilometre from Srimandir in Puri town. Srimandir and Gundicha temple are located at the two ends of ‘Bada Danda’ (Grand Road).
Gundicha temple is built in ‘Kalinga’ temple style which comprises Viman (sanctum), Jagamohan, Natamandira and Bhogamandap. There is also a kitchen hall. The temple is set within a garden and is known as God’s summer garden retreat. In the garden there are varieties of plants like coconut, mango, neem, bael and other favourite plants of the Lord like Tulasi, Rose and Jasmine.
The entire complex of the temple including garden is surrounded by a wall of 430ft length, 320ft breadth with 20ft height. Inside the temple, the sanctum features a plain raised platform of four ft height and 19 ft long made of chlorite stone called ‘Ratnavedi’ where deities are placed and worshipped for seven days. Rest of the days of the year, the ‘Ratnavedi’ and the temple remain vacant. This ‘Ratnavedi’ is regarded as the most holy place as narrated in ‘Skanda Purana’ and ‘Narad Purana’.
The temple has three gates. The western gate is the main gate of the temple called Singha Dwara (lion’s gate) through which deities enter the temple during Ratha Jatra. The eastern gate of the temple is known as ‘Nakachana Dwara’ which is used for departure of deities. There is also another gate towards north which is known as north gate.
There are many interesting legends behind the Gundicha temple and annual Ratha Jatra. One legend says that Gundicha, queen of king Indradyumna of Satya Yuga was a great devotee of Lord Jagannath. It is explained in many ‘Puranas’ that Lord Jagannath is always fond of his ardent devotees. Because of Gundicha’s deep devotion, Lord Jagannath promises her to come to her house during Ratha Jatra. Another legend says that Gundicha temple is ‘Yagnya Bedi’ which is the original birth place of the Holy Trinity. Every year Lord Jagannath with his siblings make a visit to the Gundicha temple for seven days on the occasion of Ratha Jatra.