Puri, India is one of the four most important holy cities in India (the other three being Badrinath, Dwarka and Rameswaram). Dating to the 3rd century BC, it is said to have been the earthly abode of Vishnu. Many Hindus make a pilgrimage here at least once in their lifetimes.
I visited Puri in November 2014, mostly to visit Santosh, a young man I had sponsored as a child at an orphanage and who has remained my adopted son as he left the orphanage and became an adult. While in Puri, one morning I took a rickshaw tour with Green Riders, a collective of rickshaw drivers who use their pedal-power to take visitors on interesting and eco-friendly tours of Puri — making better money in the process. I arranged the tour from my hotel, the Mayfair Heritage.
My tour was incredible, giving me a glimpse into many of Puri’s temples as well as its neighborhoods and street life. At the end of the tour, my driver pulled up for the last stop and pointed me through a brick archway. “Fireplace,” was all he said, and as I entered I realized that I was in attendance at a Hindu cremation ceremony. I did not take photos of that, for obvious reasons of respect, but here is my photo essay of my rickshaw tour of Puri. Below the photo essay is also a short video that captures more of the sights and sounds of the main street outside the huge Jagannath Temple, the most sacred Hindu temple in Puri.