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Rathayatra in Jagannatha Puri

Jagannatha Puri is one of the four major dhamas or holy places mentioned in the Vedic Puranas. Here the Lord resides in His form as Jagannatha. The temple of Lord Jagannatha is considered to be one of the most important temples in India. It is certainly one of the most spectacular temples in Asia. Puri is important to the Gaudiya Vaisnavas because it was here that Sri Caitanyadeva resided after he took sannyasa.

The temple of Jagannatha has been in existence for thousands of years but the present temple was built by King Anangabhimadeva in the 12th Century.

Puri is well known as home to one of the world's most unique religious festivals, Rathayatra which is held during June/July. Lord Jagannatha, along with His brother Baladeva and His sister Subhadra-devi, are carried from the temple in great pomp and placed on huge wooden chariots (rathas) Thousands of pilgrims and spectators take part in this event and pull the chariots from the Jagannatha temple along the entire length of the Grand Road ending at the Gundica temple. The Deities remain there for nine days then return to the main temple on the tenth. This festival commemorates Sri Krsna's return from Dvaraka to Vrndavana.

Other important places in Puri are the birthplace of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, Siddha-bakula (the bhajan-kutira of Namacarya Haridasa Thakura), Jagannatha-vallabha Gardens, Tota Gopinatha and the Gambhira.


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