Jagannath

Jagannath temple
JAGANNATH (called Puri by the natives), city located in Bengal (India), on the north-western coast of the bay of Bengal, in the province of Orissa, 44 miles (70 km) south of Cuttack; pop. approximately 30,000. At the end of the main street, which is very broad, rises the famous temple, the holiest sanctuary of Hindoustan, visited by more than one million pilgrims every year. It is enclosed inside a square area, surrounded by high stone walls; each side is 240 yards (220 m) long. On the eastern side is the main gate, from where a broad staircase leads to a terrace 23 feet (7 m) high, enclosed in a second wall and which is 162 yards (148 m) long on each side. The main pagoda rises from this terrace, on a 32.8 square feet (10 m2) base, to a height of 230 feet (70 m) above the ground. Most Hindu divinities have dedicated temples within. The great temple is dedicated to Krishna and derives its name from this divinity: Jagannath (properly Jagann√Ętha, lord of the world), Siva and Subhadra are the other main objects of worship. Each idol is provided with a car, with a raised platform set up on wheels. Jagannath’s – or Krishna’s – is the largest, it is 50 feet (15 m) high and 135 square feet (41 m2), it is set up on 16 wheels having a diameter of 8.2 feet (2.50 m) each. The Rath Jatra or great festival of Jagannath, takes place in March; idols are placed on their cars to visit their country dwellings, approximately 1.2 miles (2 km) away from the temple. The cars are pulled with long ropes by thousands of men, women and children. A few years ago, staunch believers sometimes sacrificed themselves by falling or throwing themselves under the wheels of the cars; but these sacrifices have recently been forbidden. It is assumed that the current temple was completed in 1198. The English took possession of the city in 1803.

Extract from the Trousset encyclopedia, 1886 – 1891.

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