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Mahesh Rath Yatra Second oldest in India after Puri

Serampore Ratha Yatra

Mahesh today, remains a centre of Jagannath worship, and is home to the second oldest “Rath Yatra” or car festival in India, after Puri. This is the oldest Chariot Festival of Bengal. Every year devotees throng to Mahesh to pull the ropes of the Lord’s chariot. They pull the chariot to the Lord’s garden house to the North of Mahesh, and eight days later, return it to its original location. The idols are then carried out of the chariot, and placed back within the temple. A huge fair is held on the occasion. The chariot itself has been changing constantly since 1397.

The ceremony is organized by the patrons of Jagannath temple. 400 years after the festival began, in 1797, Shri Ramkrishna Dev’s renowned disciple Balaram Basu’s grandfather Shri Krishnaram Basu donated a chariot to the temple. His son Guruprasad Basu renewed the chariot in 1835. But that chariot was destroyed by fire. Kalachand Basu built another chariot in the year 1852 but it was abandoned when someone committed suicide inside it. Bishwambhar Basu made another chariot in 1857, but that also got burnt down. The present chariot is probably the one ordered by the then Dewan Krishnachandra Basu from Martin Burn Co. Being made of iron, it has still survived. It is 45 feet tall and is built in Bengal’s traditional “Navaratna” style, that is, it has nine spires. The 45 feet Ratha has 10 wheels and 9 churas. A big fair is set up at the time of the festival and continues for 1 month.


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