Puri’s Jagannath Rath Yatra is perhaps one of the most awaited and grandly celebrated festivals in Odisha. Happening on July 4 this year, the festival is dedicated to Lord Jagannath (another name for Lord Krishna), his sister – Goddess Subhadra and his elder brother – Lord Balabhadra.
Commonly also known as Chariot Festival, the Puri Rath Yatra is known to attract about 4-5 lakh pilgrims every year, both Indians as well as foreigners. People vie to get a glimpse of the idols in the chariot; it is believed that if you manage to get a glimpse of the idol, chances are you will have a prosperous year ahead.
The Rath Yatra begins when three highly decorated chariots resembling grand temple structures are pulled through the streets of Badadanda in Puri. Locals, travellers and devotees are all allowed to partake in helping pull the Lords’ chariots through the streets.
This is the only day when non-Hindus and foreign devotees (who are otherwise not allowed in the temple premises) can catch a glimpse of the deities. The huge processions are accompanied with devotional songs played on drums, tambourines, trumpets and other such instruments, making it a rather vibrant affair.
The ratha carts are approximately some 45 feet high and are pulled by thousands of people who congregate at Puri for this annual event. Even if you are a photographer, visiting Puri during the time will help you see the town in a new light.
You can couple your trip to Puri with several attractions nearby; there are various beaches and temples here such as the Puri Beach, Konark Temple, Konark Beach, Raghurajpur artist village, Chilika Lake, Sakshigopal temple, Pipili village, Shree Loknath Temple, Gundicha Temple and Jagannath Temple.
The nearest airport from here is the Biju Patnaik Airport in Bhubaneswar, about 60 kilometeres from Puri. It is well-connected to most major cities in India.