Hindus have lots of glorifying and sacred festivals and places, Jagannath puri is one of it. Puri is one of the 'char dhams' of Hindus which also includes Badrinath, Dwarka and Rameshwaram. Jagannath referring to lord of universe (a form of Vishnu or Krishna) is worshiped here with his sister Subhadra and elder brother Balabhadra. It is located in the state of Odisha, on the eastern coast of India. Shri Jagannat Puri temple is one of the most impressing monuments of india and was built by King Ananta Varman Chosaganga Deva (Ganga Dynasty) in the 12th century.
It is said that when Lord Krishna died in Somnath his heart did not burn even after his cremation. The heart travelled through ocean (from west coast of Dwarka, India) then reached to Puri(to east coast of India) and is still there in the wooden sculpture of god Jagannath. The sculptures are made of material which is supposed to be replaced after every 8th, 12th or 19th year by an exact replica. Jagannath Puri is also famous for its annual Rath Yatra held in Ashadh month of hindu calendar. During this Rath Yatra the three deities - lord Jagannath, Subhadra and Balabhadra are pulled on a huge, decorated chariots which takes 2 months to be prepared. Lord Jagannath's Rath consist of 16 massive wheels and a height of 44 feet and is the biggest of the three. Lord Balabhadra's chariot has 14 wheels and a height of 43 feet Goddess Subhadra's chariot consist of 12 wheels and a height of 42 feet they are pulled manually by 50m long ropes. The Rath Yatra is held from main temple to Gundicha temple which is said to be lord jagannaths's aunt's place- Maa Mausi temple where he stays for seven days and then returns to the Jagannath temple which is known as Bahuda Yatra. The procession returns after passing through an 18km long route. This Rath Yatra is celebrated since 12th century.
Rath Yatra is also famous for ritual Chhera Pahanra where the Gajapati King sweeps all around the deities and cleanses the road. Jagannath Yatra is not just held in India but is also celebrated in San Francisco, Prague, Moscow, Rome, Durban, London, Florida, Bhaktapur, Brisbane and Auckland.This year Rath Yatra is going to be held on June 20th, 2023. It will commence on 10:04 PM and reach its end on June 21st,2023 at 7:09 PM. Bahuda Yatra(when the deities will return to their home) will be held on June28th.
Puri Rath Yatra sees 4-5 lakhs of pilgrims every year. When Britishers ruled India, they were astonished by the energy at Rath Yatra. They would refer to it as Jugger-naut meaning a huge vehicle that would crush anything that would come in its way because many people believe that dying under the Rath will attain them instant salvation.