Puri: Thousand of devotees gather at the holy shrine of Puri on the occasion of Century’s first Nabakalebar Rath Yatra. Since morning, the Rathyatra started with ritualistic fervour and the flavour of celebration.The yatra, which commenced from the Puri temple, will conclude at Shree Gundicha temple, covering nearly 2.5 km distance, in nine days. The yatra will conclude on July 29.
The Odisha administration has made arrangements for free bus service from the newly-constructed Malatipur bus terminus to carry pilgrims to the town, while the Railways ministry has announced running of 216 special trains to ferry passengers from across the country.While a steady stream of tourists is pouring in, city hotels in Puri are already booked. There are about 500 hotels, 200 lodges, and about 100 ashrams and dharamshalas in Puri, said an official of the Hotel and Restaurants Association of Odisha (HARO).
Besides, the administration has set up 33 Nabakalebara villages (tourist shelters) across the town to accommodate tourists.Odisha government has also deployed over 10,000 policemen for crowd management and to thwart any possible terror-incident.
A five-layered security cordon has been put in place in Puri while over 200 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras have been installed to keep a close vigil on the tourists’ movement in the city.Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has deputed four ministers and an army of bureaucrats to supervise the smooth functioning of the festival.
Meanwhile, a milling crowd was anxiously waiting for the ‘Nabajauban Darshan’ of the deities on the eve of the Rath Yatra. But this Nabakalebar year has debarred them from the darshan as per the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration’s (SJTA) decision taking into consideration today’s grand festival.According to SJTA, the darshan, if permitted to devotees, could delay the rituals for a timely and smooth conduct of the Rath Yatra. Such a plea has already been deposed by the SJTA before the Odisha high court.
The deities will have a nine-day sojourn at the Gundicha temple. And, they return to Shree Mandir only after completion of the nine-day Yatra on the same chariots called ‘Bahuda Yatra’ (return car festival).The Nabakalebar festival, which started on March 29, will conclude on July 27 after the Suna Besha on the chariots itself.