Jagannath Rath Yatra is a Hindu festival where people from all religions gather to worship Lord Jagannath (Lord Krishna) in Puri, Orissa. It is also known as the chariot festival or car festival. This annual event is held in the month of June or July. For 2017 the festival will begin on 25th June and returning rituals are on 3rd July.
History behind Jagannath Rath Yatra
As per the mythological stories, Lord Krishna along with their brother Lord Balaram came to Mathura to defeat Kansa. After defeating the evil Kansa, Lord Krishna, Balaram and sister Subhadra went on a chariot to see the splendour of Mathura city.
Once Lord Krishna queens requested their mother in law Rohini to tell them about the interesting stories (ras lilas) of Lord Krishna with gopis. Rohini thought it would be inappropriate for Subhadra to hear all these stories so she sent her away with Lord Krishna and Balaram. As the three siblings were standing together, Lord Narada soon appeared on the scene. On seeing the three siblings together, he prayed “May the three of you grant darshan in this manner forever.” The prayer was heard and the three of them now reside in Puri Temple of the Lord Jagannath.
Lord Krishna desires to visit their birth place Mathura once every year for few days. This Jagannath Rath Yatra is held to fulfil that desire.
The chariots in Jagannath Rath Yatra
A royal procession takes place with the idols of Lord Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra in three beautifully designed chariots. The devotees pull these massive chariots starting with Lord Balaram, Sister Subhadra followed by Lord Krishna. The god idols remain outside the temple premises for next nine days for the public to worship them. During the return of rath yatra, it stops at Mausi Maa Temple. Here, the devotees are served with Poda Pitha, a sweet pancake.
Places to visit near Jagannath Temple
At the same time, Puri offers fascinating travel destinations for its visitors. You can visit places like Konark temple, Shree Loknath temple, Konark beach, Chilika Lake and Sakshigopal Temple. Furthermore, the city is well connected via air, rail and road. The nearest airport is Biju Patnaik Airport, Bhubaneswar, which is around 60 km from Puri. The nearest railway station is Puri.
Presently, Jagannath temple is one of the four sacred temples: the other three are Rameshwar in South, Dwarka in West and Badrinath in the Himalayas.