Rath Yatra 2019: 7 Lesser Known Temples that Celebrate Lord Jagannath's Chariot Festival
Although Puri steals the focus of Rath Yatra celebrations every year, there are other lesser known places, some almost as old as the Puri temple, that organise Jagannath Rath Yatra.
Devotees throng Puri for Rath Yatra today. (Image: Twitter/@ANI)
Rath Yatra 2019 | One of the most incredible spectacles in India, Rath Yatra celebrates the holy trinity of Lord Jagannath, his brother Lord Balabhadra and sister Subhadra as they go for a short visit to their maternal aunt's place at the Gundicha temple. The celebration brings millions of devotees to Puri which organises the biggest Jagannath Rath Yatra in the world. The chariot festival of the Gods falls during Shukla Paksha of Ashada month every year.
Although Puri steals the focus of Rath Yatra celebrations every year, it is not the only place that organises the chariot festival. There are other, lesser known places, some almost as old as the Puri temple, that organise Jagannath Rath Yatra.
Baripada : Popularly known as Haribaldev temple, it is considered to be an auspicious pilgrim site during the Rath Yatra celebrations. What makes the Rath Yatra celebrations special over here is that women are the only ones pulling the chariot of Subhadra. Traditional Chau dance performance are another major attraction.
Kendrapada: Around 100 kilometres from Puri, this temple's presiding deity is Lord Balabhadra. The chariot here is 72 feet tall, effectively much taller than the one in Puri. Although, only Lord Balabhadra's chariot is pulled here.
Koraput: The Jagannath temple here itself is a major attraction as it was built in the 12th century and reflects ancient styles and architecture.
Keonjhar: Here, the idols are never recreated and the same idols are being worshipped since the temple's inception. The idol of Subhadra is red in colour.
Mahesh: Over 600 years old, this Rath Yatra in West Bengal's Hooghly district is considered to be one of first of its kind in the state. It is believed to have been built by Kamalakar Pipilai, a close associate of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the 14th century.
Guptipara: Intricately associated with the Vaishnav culture, the chariot festival here started in 1745. Initially,the temple had more than 13 spires but after an accident in 1873, there were only nine.
Mayapur/Rajapur: The chariot festival here houses idols that are over 500 years old. The temple was unearthed with condition almost intact in the 1950s. However, when the family that found it saw it difficult to continue with the daily rituals and running of the temple, they handed it over to the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), whose headquarters are located in nearby Mayapur. The chariots from Rajapur travel to the ISKCON headquarters in Mayapur, about 5km away by road, accompanied by a huge procession with devotees playing musical instruments, singing and dancing to hymns.
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