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Lakhs of devotees throng Puri for Car Festival

BS Reporter  |  Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar 

Lakhs of devotees from length and breadth of the country today thronged holy town of Puri in Orissa to witness the world famous Rath Yatra (Car Festival) of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and their sister Devi Subhadra.

By evening, the three colourful chariots carrying the deities had reached their destination, the Gundicha Temple, about three Kms from the Jagannath Temple on the Grand Road, from where the journey of the deities had started in the morning.

The deities will be taken inside the Gundicha Temple tomorrow and will remain there for next nine days before being carried back in the Return Car Festival on July 11 to their original abode.

Despite presence of lakhs of people, there was no untoward incident during the festival as security personnel were deployed in strength to maintain the law and order. Besides CCTV cameras placed at vantage points, bomb squad, anti-Maoists squads and sharp shooters were deployed in the city.

However, a devotee, Sudhakar Swain from Jagatsinghpur district, died of heart attack, official sources said.

Besides Governor of Orissa Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare, Chief Minsiter Naveen Pattnaik, Assam Governor Janaki Ballav Pattnaik were among the dignitaries who attended the decade old festival.

Since almost all the rooms of the hotels were booked by the tourists and devotees much before festival, several visitors faced difficulty for accommodation. Different Mathas and hotels in Puri have accommodation capacity of around 22,000. Since large number of people from far flung areas thronged to the town on the occasion of Rath Yatra, apart from the hotels in Puri, the occupancy in hotels in nearby towns was also full, said district tourist officer (Puri) Bijay Kumar Jena.

For safety of the devotees, the Puri Temple administration had insured more areas in the city for loss of life and property during the festival time this year. Besides the three-km long Grand Road from Jagannath Temple to Gundicha Temple, the administration had also insured all the roads connecting to the Grand Road and around the Jagannath temple.

The special trains to Puri from Visakhapatam, Palasa (Andhra Pradesh), Kharagapur (West Bengal), Keonjhar, Paradip, Bhadrak, Berhampur, Sambalpur and Paralakhemundi in Orissa ply during the festival period, said the railway officials.

Similarly, the state-owned Orissa tourism development corporation (OTDC) also operated some special buses from different towns in the state to Puri for the convenience of the tourists.

The Car Festival was also celebrated in Mumbai, Delhi, Surat and Gujrat.

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First Published: Mon, July 04 2011. 00:12 IST