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Mahesh Rath Yatra At Serampore In West Bengal - History - Interesting Facts

Mahesh Rath Yatra held at Mahesh at Serampore in West Bengal is one of the oldest Jagannath Rath Yatra festivals outside Odisha and is slightly different from the world famous Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra festival. Mahesh Rath Yatra 2024 date is July 7. The Rath Yatra at Mahesh began in 1396 CE. A single chariot is pulled during the annual Mahesh Rath Yatra not three as in Puri.

  • The chariot is pulled to Mahesh Gundicha Bari (or, Masir Bari)
  • The Mahesh Rath Yatra chariot is unique as it is in the form of a Navaratna Temple having nine shikharas. All the three murtis - Jagannath, Subhadra and Balabhadra - are place on this chariot. 
  • The Ratha has a steel framework with wooden scaffolding.
  • It is fitted with twelve iron wheels each measuring twelve inches in circumference.
  • The Ratha is four storied, measuring 50 feet in height and 125 tonnes in weight.
  • Two copper horses are attached to the front.
  • The present ratha was constructed under the patronage of Krishnaram Basu by the Martin Burn Company in 1885. The cost of the construction was two million rupees.
  • Kamalakar Piplai, fifth of the twelve Gopalas of Sri Chaitanya, started the first Rath Yatra at Mahesh.
  • Nothing is known about the original Ratha used in the temple.
  • Recorded history indicates that Rathas were made in 1797, 1835, 1852, 1857 before the present Ratha was made in 1885 under the patronage of Krishnaram Basu by the Martin Burn Company. The older chariots were mostly lost in fire accidents.
  • The festival lasts for eight days and attracts more than 200,000 people.

It is said that once Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, an ardent Jagannath devotee – on his way to Puri – visited the temple at Mahesh, where he lost his sense and attained deep samadhi. The area was then christened Naba Nilachal - meaning new Puri.

Unlike in Puri and other temples where the murtis of Jagannath, Subadhra and Balabhadra are changed during the Nabakalebara (which happens once in 12 or 18 or 19 years), the murtis at Mahesh Jagannath temple are not changed. The same murtis are used for more than 600 years. They were carved out of the Daru Brahma that appeared at Mahesh.

As per history, Bengali sadhu Drubananda Brahmachari was once denied the chance to offer ‘bhog’ (food offerings) to Bhagavan Jagannath at Puri. Dejected, the sage went on a fast until death. It is said after a few days, Bhagavan Jagannath came in his dream and told him to stop fasting and that he too wanted to have ‘bhog’ from his ardent devotee. Urging Drubananda to go to Mahesh, he promised a Daru-Brahma (neem trunk) will appear in the Hooghly river and he can make murtis out of it.