Utkal, the ancient name of Orissa, literarily means a place where art and crafts have reached its stage of excellence. This part of the country is renowned for Stone sculpture, Palm-leaf paintings, Patta paintings, Tassar paintings, Pottery toys, papier-mache products, sand art and applique work.
The lovely wall paintings seen on houses are very much eye-catching, whether painted with colours or powdered rice water. The traditional patta paintings are painted on the traditional treated cloth with a laequered hard surface and original colour combinations. The theme of such paintings mostly revolves around Lord Jagannath. The sets of 96 circular playing cards with traditional charming paintings called " Ganjappa " are much sought after by Connoisseurs. Raghurajpur a road side village about 14 Kms away from Puri towards Bhubaneswar and Chitrakara Sahi in Puri Town houses these artisans The Palm leaf painters are also seen on the job in this village Raghurajpur which is proud of her products-artisans and painters. These paintings are done by the palm-leaf etching technique which are formed by stitching together rows of the leaves. They can be folded into a compact pile, then opened up easily.
The thirteenth century magic carved in Sand stone speaks much about its builder artisans. Though in course of time they have been migrated to various parts of the State, majority of them are found in the district of Puri. The stone carver's street popularly known as ` Pathuria Sahi' bustles with the hammer sounds which creates soundless drums in the hands of the dancing girls or a flute in the hand of Lord Krishna. Local emporias should find place in a tourist's diary for a visit for such craft items.
Besides wood carvings on Lord Jagannath are available at handicraft stores, though " Sun Crafts " on the VIP road is a store house of such items. Standard items on clay toys, papier-mache and sea-shell are found in the market. But the living sand art are available on the Sea Beach.
One of the most important cottage industries encouraged by temple rituals
was the creation of applique workApplique in Orissa is an old temple art , which has been refined to perfection. A fine example of the craft is the enormous applique canopies above the reigning deity of Puri , Lord Jagannath . Applique art is the process of cutting coloured cloth into shapes of animals , birds, flowers, leaves and other decorative motifs and stitching them on to a piece of cloth that can ultimately be used as a lamp shade , a hand bag or even a garden umbrella . The village of Pipli , 40 kms. from Puri , is the site of beautiful applique work, created by artists, quite a few of whom have won national awards for their crafts.
The richand verdant land brings forth vegatables that are lush and fruits that brim over with benefitial properties and are therefore form a large part of Puri 's diet. Rice drawn from the emerald paddy fields in sun-drenched valleys finds its way to the table --sweet smelling and dellicious . With the religious leanings of the District , meat consumption is relatively low , though most hotels and restaurants have it on their menus.
what is rich and plentyful is the diverse selection of sea-food , with crabs and lobsters steeped in the ever present ingredients of -- Puri's cusine -- curd (yoghurt) and Coconut milk . The curd here is rich and creamy and gives the succulent flesh an additional flavour . It is not only the sea-food which is traditionally cooked in curd and coconut milk but also yams , brinjals and pumpkins are liberally used in curd with mustard seeds giving the whole preparation that extra zing.
Small cakes or 'Pithas' which are both sweet and savoury are extremely popular in Orissa . Chhenapodapitha , the caramelised custard-like dessert is popular not only with the locals but also with the tourists . Another traditional must is the tasting of the 'Mahaprasad 'or the sacred food offered as 'bhog' to Lord Jagannath . Available at the ananda Bazar of the Jagannath temple , your hotel can help you procure it quite easily . The temple kitchen is believed to be the largest kitchen in the world . Created on a cooking facility which is highly efficient despite its age , 400 'Supkars' (cooks) work around 200 hearths daily to feed over 10,000 people.
Most hotels and restaurants in Puri have a good selection of multi-cusine on their menus including some house specialities . The fish and prawn catch of Puri coast basically the prawn of Chilika are totally free from toxic substances like mertcury and lead etc.