Posted on: 25 June 2017

Painting of the Jagannatha temple at Puri - 1820

Watercolour depicting the Jagannatha temple at Puri by an anonymous artist, c. 1820. Inscribed on album page: 'Temple at Juggernauth'.

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.

In this drawing, the temple is in the background with a village house with figures and elephants in the foreground.

Text and image credit:
Copyright © The British Library Board

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