Also known as the Rath Yatra (journey of the chariot), the festival is the highlight of the eastern state of Orissa. June and July are reserved for preparations and celebrations to invoke Lord Krishna (Jagannath) and his siblings, Balbhadra and Subhadra. As the name suggests, the three idols are carried on a mammoth chariot from one temple to another, with a sea of people in its shadows. Some of these are designated to pull the chariot across the streets; others throng the path that the chariot wheels on in the fervor of celebrations. Songs and dances accompany the trio, as they make their way inching slowly through the high-octane celebrations.
The journey from one temple to another symbolizes a short holiday of 9 days to their aunt’s place at Gundicha temple close by. The decorations and colours are the highlight of the festival. The three idols are treated like babies; they are dressed and bathed with warmth and care, and are showered with flowers and sandal paste.
Travelling to Puri on the day of the festival will award stunning photo opportunities and a chance to see the ‘real’ India from close quarters. It’s recommended to take a vantage spot and watch from a distance, than join the crowds.
Best Cities: Puri