There’s lots of fun Hindu festivals in India, but trust us when we say that the Rath Yatra is one you would NOT want to miss! This is the only time that the three deities Jagannath, and his siblings Balabhadra and Subhadara, leave the temple riding on wooden chariots headed for the Gundicha Temple. They stay at the temple for 9 days, after which the Bahuda Jatra commences, which is the return journey of the deities.
The incredibly diverse city of Puri is filled with almost a million local and international visitors each year who come to witness this amazing religious festival that all are welcome to join. The streets are filled with song, dance, prayer, and rituals. Although the date of the Rath Yatra festival changes each year in accordance with the Hindu calendar, preparations start long beforehand.
Thousands of devotees from all corners of the globe travel to Puri to help build the massive, elaborate chariots which are specially made for each of the gods. In fact, they each take exactly 58 days to build! The three chariots are the highlight of the entire festival: Lord Jagannath’s is 45 feet high and has 16 wheels; Balabhadara’s chariot is 45.6 feet high and has 14 wheels; and Subhadara’s chariot is 44.6 feet high and has 12 wheels. There’s lots of numbers and rituals involved in creating these amazing chariots, which travel around the streets of Puri bestowing blessing on everyone who attends.
‘One of the reasons why it attracts so many visitors each year is because it’s believed you’ll be instantly forgiven of your sins by merely witnessing the Rath Yatra.’
The Rath Yatra processions start at the iconic Jagannath Temple in Puri, Odisha. Puri is one of the most holy pilgrimage sites in India, and you’ll also find amazing beaches – some of which are considered to be sacred. There are also dozens of jaw-dropping temples to explore while you’re here.
Cycle or automatic rickshaws are the most popular way of getting around Puri. Just remember to agree on a price with the driver before setting off.
Check out CT Road if you want to hire or rent motorbikes, which are a great way to explore the golden coast.
There are around three hundred hotels in Puri alone; there’s something for everyone whether you’re looking for backpacker hostels or upscale hotels.
For the best experience, book accommodations along Grand Road, since the chariots will travel through this street. It’s a great location to base yourself in while in Puri, and transportation options are abundant.
Puri’s grand festivals and amazing temples make it a great destination for anyone keen to learn more about the ancient Hindu religion. There’s also tons of other sights to discover, including sandy beaches, artists’ villages, and a number of other centuries-old attractions. The whole family will enjoy the Ananda Bazar, the biggest food market in the world. Excellent shopping, restaurants, and nightlife can also be found here.
If you’re keen to explore other parts of India after Rath Yatra, it’s so easy to do so thanks to an efficient railway network that connects Puri to dozens of other cities.
Rath Yatra starts on July 4, 2019 and runs for 9 days.
Feature image credit: newindianexpress.com
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