The Chandan Yatra of Puri also known as the Gandhalepana Yatra is the longest and the most important yatra in the Kalinga style Jagannath Temple. This marks the conclusion of the cycle of religious festivals and lasts for a total of 42 days. The Bahara Chandana and Bhitara Chandana are the two parts of Chandan Yatra. The former takes place outdoors while the latter takes place inside the temple itself.
The Bahara Chandana Yatra
The Bahara Chandana yatra lasts for twenty-one days starting from Akshaya Tritiya; the 3rd day of Baisakh. The main deities: Rama, Krishna, Madan Mohan, Laxmi and Saraswati and the five Shivalingam: Lokanatha, Kapala Mochana, Jameswar, Markandaya and Nilakantha, are taken on two boats called Nanda and Bhadra from Singhadwara or the Lion Gate at the Jagannath temple to the Narendra Tritha. The royal elephant takes the lead followed by palanquins on the shoulders of the viman badus who are meticulously selected. The chariots are constructed in advance and are beautifully ornate in design. The grand boats are red and white in colour, made to resemble swans. It is a marvellous feat to watch them in action which is why both tourists and patrons flock to see the Chandan Yatra. After the evening boat ride, the revered deities have a dip inside Chandan sarovar. Accompanied by priests, dancers and musicians, the procession returns back late at night after the alankara ritual.
The Narendra Tritha
The holy tank called the Narendra Tritha was built by Narendra Dev who was the son of Kapilendra Dev, the founder of the Gajapati dynasty. Constructed in the 15th century, this massive tank is 834 feet by 873 feet in size and has an island in its middle which is its unique characteristic. It is connected with the south bank by a bridge. It houses a small temple called Chandana Mandapa in the island. The water level of the tank with 16 ghatas, is almost 10 feet under the road level. Madan Mohan is brought to the Chandana Mandapa during the yatra as a representative.
The Bhitara Chandana
The Bhitara Chandana is vastly different from the Bahara Chandana. Unlike the daily cruises during the Bahara Chandana, rides only happen here on four occurrences: Amavasya, Purnima, Shashti and Ekadashi.
People believe that the Chandan Yatra originated with a purpose of training to the young in the field of the voyage along with religious intentions. History states people living in Orissa had maritime commerce with countries in the East. The reasoning behind the festival being held in the month of Baisakh is the time period. During this time, the summer temperatures are at their peak and people use sandal paste and water to soothe themselves.
Although this magnificent yatra takes place over a period of 42 days, outside Puri, this festival is observed only for the last three days. In Bhubaneswar, the Chandan Yatra takes place with Lord Lingaraj as the hero and is takes place in Bindu Sarobar. In similar fashion to the one in Puri, the float is moved to the Mandapa or the elevated platform in the middle of the Bindu Sarovar.
Located at the scenic spot where Bhargavi River meets the sea, Sterling Puri is a fantastic option for experiencing both the Yatra and the beauty of Puri. The resort also is very close to the Brahma Kumari Ashram in the Sipasarubali Village at Baliapanda. There is a special four-part, bean-shaped swimming pool here with separate areas for children, ladies, and men. Puri is renowned for its laidback golden sand beaches. You can also read our blog on the four legends surrounding the Gudincha Temple in Puri, for more insights. After the yatra experience, you can unwind on the shores of Baliharachandi Beach and get a closer look at Incredible India. That sounds like a memorable trip, doesn’t it?