Puri is the holy town of the state of Orissa and is abode of Lord Jagannath. The holy temple of Jagannath attracts millions of tourists from all around the world throughout the year. But the number of tourists visiting Puri rises sharply especially during Rath Yatra. The sea beach of Puri is another tourist attraction of Puri. It is a serene and beautiful beach and provides a panoramic view of sunrise and sunset.
There are many anecdotes about how Puri got its name. It is believed that Puri got its name the temple Jagannath Puri. But the more popular belief is that the holy town of Puri got its name from Purushottama, one of 108 Shakti Peethas, which is only shrine where Radha and Krishna abode in the same temple.
Rath Yatra of Puri
Puri's Rath Yatra is probably the most well known festival of the state of Orissa. Rath Yatra which is also known as the Chariot festival is popular as it is associated with Lord Jagganath who is worshipped all around Orissa with a lot of devotion. Rath Yatra is generally celebrated in the month of June or July
All the three dieties, Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are worshipped in the the Jagannath temple of Puri but during the festival of Rath Yatra they are taken through the streets of Puri in three lavishly decorated chariots. This is a unique experience for the millions of devotees who visit Puri for the festival of Rath Yatra. Rath Yatra is believed to be celebrated to commemorate the annual visit of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra to their Aunt's place which is at Gundicha, just 2 kms away from Puri. This is the only time devotees can get a divine glimpse of the deities outside the temple.
The three chariots of Puri Rath Yatra are constructed every year a few months in advance to the festival of Rath Yatra. All the three chariots are beautifully decorated with colorful canopies made of stripes of red cloth combined with clothes of black, yellow and blue colors. After the completion of the construction of the chariots they are lined in the front of the Singhadwara or the Lion's Gate of the Jagannath Temple.
Nandighosa: This is Lord Jagannath's Chariot and is about 45 ft high. The rath had 16 wheels and is decorated with red and yellow cloth.
Taladhwaja: It is the chariot of Lord Balabhadra and has a emblem of palm tree on the flag. The chariot is about 44 ft in height and is beautifully decorated with blue and yellow cloth.
Devadallan:- This is the chariot of Subhadra. it is about 43 ft high and is beautifully decorated by a combination of red and black cloth, black being traditionally associated with Shakti and the Mother goddess.
Rath Yatra today in not only celebrated in Puri but has also started to gain popularity all around the world. Some international cities which celebrate Rath Yatra today are London, Montreal, Paris, New York, Singapore, Toronto, and Venice.