Jagannath Rath Yatra

Jai Jagannath these two words cast a magic spell on any devout Oriya living anywhere in the world. Lord Jagannath shares a very special relationship with Oriyas. For them he is Jaga, Kalia, Chakadola, Chakayana. The day of this Ratha yatra is cosidered the most auspicious in the Oriya together. When Lord Jagannath revered as patitabhan in a rare gesture of divinity comes out from the shrine to shower blessings on his devotees, the divine sight of him and his fellow deities redeems one fom all sins.

This festival said to be the largest eligious congregation after the Kumbh Mela, the Ratha Yatra in Puri spreads over 11 days. The largest draw of devotees is seen on the days of chariots are pulled, the actual Ratha Yatra day and the Bahuda Yatra or retrun car festival. This is the only occassion when everybody has acess yo the deities.

The people who help in the pulling of the chariot consider it a pious deed and are also willing to risk their lives in the bargain by making their way through the huge crowd. The large procession that usually accompanies the chariots plays a number of devotional songs accompanied by drums, tambourines, trumpets, among other instruments. Children usually throng the streets through which the large chariot passes while adding to the celebrations. The Ratha carts are around 45 feet (14 m) high and are pulled by thousands of devotees that attend this auspicious event. In fact, a new chariot is built every year from a particular type of tree. Devotees from other parts of the globe also come to Puri during this time for the festival. The annual event is also broadcasted on a number of Indian and foreign television channels with live telecasts also available.

Oriya is a part of he Aryan family of languages and seems to be very closely associated with Assamese, Bengali and Maithili. There are a large number of variations in the way Oriya language is spoken. English language is spoken only by a few literate people in Orissa.


Travel Tips

Tourists and devotees are advised to book their tickets at least 2-3 months before the start of the festival owing to the large influx of people. The festival usually takes places in the second or third week of July. Therefore, getting there a week before is recommended to visit other significant landmarks in the vicinity, including The Sun Temple in Konark and Lingaraja Temple located in Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Orissa.

Those who wish to make a day trip from Bhubaneswar to see the pulling of the chariots can opt for the Rath Yatra package offered by the Odisha Tourism Development Corporation.

When to visit

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Things to do

Ratha Yatra or more commonly referred to as the Chariot Festival is among the most famous Hindu festivals in India and is associated with Lord Jagannath held in the historically significant location - Puri in the state of Odisha, India.

This festival is celebrated annually during the Ashad Shukla Dwitiya (referring to the 2nd day in bright fortnight of Asharh month).

The festival signifies the start of Lord Jagannaths visit to Gundicha mata's temple annually after visiting his aunt's home (Mausi Maa Temple which is situated proximate to Balagandi Chaka in Puri).

As part of Jagannath Ratha Jatra, the deities of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are taken out in a huge procession to Gundicha Temple where they remain there for close to nine days. After the nine days, the Ratha Jatra returns to the main temple. This return journey to Puri is commonly referred to as Bahuda Jatra.

Getting Around

Public transport and taxis are available for getting around locally.

Places to Stay

Puri has wide range of stay opions - from modest dharamshalas to fancy hotels. If anyone wants to stay right in the centre of the Yatra venue, choose from the hotels located on Grand road. There are many options near the beach as well. One can also stay in Bhubaneswar hough that would mean missing out on the ambience of the festival.

How to Reach

  • Bhubaneswar airport is the nearest airport.
  • Puri railway station part of the east coast railway, is connected by direct trains to New Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Jodhpur and Haridwar. Those approaching from the south will find it easier to get down at Bhubaneswar and proceed to Puri by road.
  • There are direct buses from Kolkata to Puri, usually an overnight trip. From Bhubaneswar, there are buses every 30 minutes. It is a pleasant drive through green paddy fields, coconut groves and small villages, most notably Pipli, the hamlet renowned for its colourful applique work.

Surrounding Attractions

Apart from the temples and historical monuments, there are nature parks, museums and handloom marts to see.

Lingaraj temple is considered the quintessence of the Kalinga school of Architecture and the most important temple in Orissa. The sheer size and scale of Lingaraj defies belief. No Hindus ae not allowed inside the Lingaraja temple.

Nandan Kanan Zoologial Park: It is one of the most well - maintained zoos in India. Nandan Kanan is an open air zoo carved from natural forests. The zoo also includs a botanical garden. Both are separated by a lake and spread over a scenic landscape of several hundred acres.

Dhauli: The famous rock edicts here describe Ashokas philosophy of life. One can visit Shanti Stupa atop of Dhauli Hill and enjoy the splendid view of the Daya river winding its way through paddy fields.


Emergency No.

Police Station: 100

Fire Brigade: 101

Ambulance: 108 or 103