Posted on: 25 June 2017

Digital Rare Book:
Bengal District Gazetteer
By L.S.S. O’Malley
Printed by Superintendent, Government Press, Patna - 1929

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Panorama of the Great Temple of Jagannath, Puri in Orissa, taken from the west, showing European bungalows in the foreground on the sea shore - 1820

Watercolour of the Jagannatha Temple at Puri in Orissa, by an anonymous artist working in the British school, dated September 1820. Inscribed on front in ink: 'West View of the Temple and Bungalos at Jagannath. Septr 1820'; ditto on back in pencil.

Puri is one of the cardinal centres of pilgrimage for Hinduism and is particularly revered by the Vaishnavas as the principal centre of the cult of Krishna in his form of Jagannatha, the Lord of the Universe. The Jagannatha temple is one of the largest in India and was founded in the 12th Century by Anantavarman Chodaganga (r.1077-1147), ruler of the Eastern Ganga dynasty. The temple consists of an enclosed inner sanctuary, covered by a spire (57 m tall) that is richly decorated with figures from Vaishnava myths and topped by the flag and wheel, symbols of Vishnu. This is preceded by a mandapa with a pyramidal roof, surrounded by other mandapas that were added by subsequent rulers. The Rath Yatra (car festival) is the largest annual festival in Puri when the images of Jagannatha, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra are placed in large chariots (raths) and are paraded about the town. The festival is meant to symbolise the journey of Krishna from Gokul to Mathura. This drawing is a panoramic view of the Jagannatha Temple and surrounding area taken from the west; European-style bungalows can be seen in the foreground by the sea shore.

Text and image credit:
Copyright © The British Library Board

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Line drawing of the Puri Rath Yatra in 1818 conserved at the British Library: Dharitri