To see the Lord of Universe or Lord Jagannath, one has to climb the twenty two steps baisi pahacha in odia through lions gate (simha dwar). Many interpretations are there to symbolise these twenty two steps which are to be climbed to reach inner complex of the temple. Different religious interpretations are given to these Holy Steps so that one can feel the sense of sacrificing all sin and be prepared in body and mind to see the God with all holiness.
These steps are considered so sacred that pilgrims touch these in hand with reverence and also allowed their children to roll on.
As per yogashastra a man posses 5 types of mana and 25 types of prakriti. Out of these 25 prakriti, 3 are Apara and 22 are Para prakriti. The 22 para prakriti are:
Kosa or panjikarna
Mada or parba
A yogi has to cross twenty two para prakriti to see the lord.
Baikuntha, the place of lord vishnu, is situated above sapta lokas, sapta patala and ashta baikunth. These are as follows:
Garbhodaka sai baikuntha
One has to cross Seven Loka, Seven Patala and Eight Baikuntha and hence these are symbolically represented as 22 steps.
It symbolises the Panca Matra, Pancha Bhuta, Panca Vija, Panca Deva and Jiva and Parama. Hence 22 steps are there.
Further it symbolises twenty two tirthas of Shrimad Bhagbat with ten GOD.
Pancarasa Asta Sattika Bhaba
Hence calculating all , these are represented in 22 steps.
1) First five steps describes all five sense organs. Eye, ear, nose, tongue and skin.
2) Second five steps five breathing prana. Up-breathing(prana), down-breathing (aprana),back-breathing (vyana),out-breathing (udana), and on-breathing (samana).
3)Third five steps describes the inner beauty. Looks(rupa), aesthetics(rasa), taste(swad), smell(gandha) and noise(sabda).
4) Fourth five steps are for Pancha mahabhutas. Earth, water, fire, air and space.
5) Twenty First step is for Wisdom.
6) Twenty Second step is for Ego.
After crossing each of these steps , a pilgrim can see the Lord Jagannath.
As per the Bhagabata purana , there are twenty four avataras of lord vishnu. Out of these twenty two are considered most important and these in form of steps symbolises for salvation. These are:
According to belief, all sins of the pilgrims disappear when they touch these step even once.
As per Jainism, these twenty two steps of Puri temple represent Twenty Two Tirthankars out of twenty four. The other Two Tirthankaras are represented through the Ratnavedi of the temple and the Grand Road or Badadanda of Puri. When a jain devotee enters the temple and starts climbing these holy steps , he touches each step with deep respect.