The Rath Yatra dates back some 5,000 years when Lord Krishna along with his older brother Balaram and sister Subhadra were pulled on a chariot from Kurukshetra to Vrindavana by Krishna's devotees
Priests and devotees perform the 'Pahandi', a ritual that marks the beginning of the Rath Yatra of lord Jagannath in Puri
Lakhs of devotees gather in the holy city(Puri) to pull the three chariots of Lord Jagananth, Lord Balbhadra(Balaraman) and Goddess Subhadra from Jagannath to Gundicha temple
Lord Jagannatha's chariot called Nandighosh. It is 45-feet-high and 45 square feet at the wheel level. It has 16 wheels, each of 7-feet diameter, and is decked with a cover made of red and yellow cloth. Lord Jagannatha is identified with Krishna who is also known as Pitambara, the one attired in golden yellow robes and hence the distinguishing yellow stripes on the canopy of this chariot.
The chariot of Lord Balabhadra, called the Taladhwaja, the one with the Palm Tree on its flag, has 14 wheels, each of 7-feet diameter and is covered with red and blue cloth. Its height is 44 feet.
The chariot of Subhadra, known as Darpadalana, literally trampler of pride, is 43-feet-high with 12 wheels, each of 7-feet diameter. This chariot is decked with a covering of red and black cloth, black being traditionally associated with Shakti and the Mother goddess.
The chariot festival always takes place on the second day of Sukla Paksha, a day that marks the waxing cycle of the moon.The history of Lord Jagannath Rath yatra in Puri is more than thousand years old. And all these years what has not changed much is its religious fervor, tradition, rituals and grandeur. The festival is still very popular among its devotees and attracts more than a million of them every year to Puri on the occasion.
The presiding deities, Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Balabhadra and their sister Subhadra - set out from the sanctum sanctorum of the temple for their annual nine-day sojourn to Gundicha temple, about two kilometres away.
Descending from the Ratna Sinhasana, the bejewelled throne, the three deities were taken out of the temple down the 22 steps known as "Baisi Pahacha" through the Lion's Gate in an elaborate royal ritual called "Pahandi" as devotees and sevayats jostled to have a glimpse and touch them
A view from over one of the chariots, of the vast crowd of devotees celebrating the Rath Yatra
The proceedings were watched by millions, including Governor M C Bhandare and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.