The 200-year old Jagannath Temple in Varanasi looks to be a replica of Puri Jagannath Mandir in Orissa. The temple has similar architecture, same idols of Lord Jagannath, Subhadra and Balaram. Rathyatra is celebrated in Varanasi city when Lakha Mela held.
Times of India published an interesting article about the Jagannath Mandir of Varanasi. The article describes the history and architecture, location of the temple, and rituals and celebrations in the Mandir. The article goes like this……
Set against the backdrop of holy Ganga near the old Asi ghat in the city, the over 200-year-old Jagannath Temple looks to be a replica of the world famous temple at Puri (Orissa). The temple has idols of trio siblings – Lord Jagannath, sister Subhadra and elder brother Balram. Other resemblance could be found in the architectures of both the temples.
As per head priest Shri Ram Sharma, the Jagannath Temple is not only more than 200 years old, it also has imprints of the world famous temple at Puri. It witnesses traditional worshipping of Lord Jagannath much like the Puri temple. The only difference is in the size of the temple, as it is much smaller in comparison to the Puri temple, he added.
The Jagannath Temple witnesses a number of rituals on the occasion of Rathyatra festivity when the ‘lakha mela’ (fair that attracts lakhs of people) is organised in the city. The procession of deities is carried out with fanfare in decorated palanquins and later the idols are placed in the temple and darshan (viewing) is prohibited for a fortnight. The deities recover from the illness after a fortnight and three-day fair begins in the city, added the head priest of the temple.
It may be mentioned here that a special medicinal juice in the form of ‘kadha’ is also offered to the deities for 15 days. The juice is made from basil leaves and cloves mixed in holy Ganga water.
During the Rathyatra mela, traditional cookies like naankhatai, prepared from refined flour and sugar, are in high demand. The cookies are available in various flavours like coconut and cashewnut etc. Besides, the Rathyatra also marks the beginning of the festive season, as it is followed by holy Shrawan month. Lakhs of devotees throng the city for offering Ganga water to Lord Vishwanath.