Chandan Yatra

Chandan Yatra: A Celebration of Tradition

Chandan Yatra, also known as the Sandal Festival or Gandhalepana Yatra(ଗନ୍ଧଲେପନ ଯାତ୍ରା) is a significant event following the Car Festival and Snana Yatra, lasting for 42 days. It is observed both inside and outside the temple premises, encompassing two main phases: Bahara Chandana and Bhitara Chandana.

Bahara Chandana: Outer Celebrations (First 21 Days)

During Bahara Chandana, which begins on Akshaya Tritiya, preparations for the annual Ratha Yatra Festival commence. This phase spans 21 days and involves elaborate rituals conducted outside the temple. The festivities start with a procession from the Lion’s Gate of the temple, where representative idols of the main deities of Jagannath Temple and images of Lord Shiva from five Shiva temples are carried on Bimanas (Chariots) to the Narendra Tirtha Tank.

At Narendra tank, these idols are placed in beautifully decorated Chapas (boat houses) and worshipped amidst illuminated surroundings. The idols are then taken around the tank in these Chapas before being bathed in scented water within a house called Chandana Ghara. Following the bath, the idols are adorned with elaborate attire and decorations, and food offerings are made. Finally, a second round of cruising around the tank takes place before the idols return to the main temple. The last day of Bahara Chandana, known as Bhaunri, witnesses the culmination of this phase with immense joy and participation from thousands of devotees.

Bhitara Chandana: Inner Celebrations (Second 21 Days)

The subsequent phase, Bhitara Chandana, unfolds inside the main temple premises and lasts for another 21 days. During this period, the focus shifts to a more intimate celebration. The idols are placed in brass pots filled with water scented with sandalwood, which are arranged on a special platform called Jalakrida Mandapa, or the water play platform.

This platform holds significance as it symbolizes the setting for the wedding of Krishna with Rukmini during this phase of the festival. Devotees participate in rituals and prayers within the temple, offering their reverence to the deities amidst a serene atmosphere filled with the fragrance of sandalwood.


Chandan Yatra is a rich cultural heritage and religious fervor of Odisha. Through its two distinct phases, Bahara Chandana and Bhitara Chandana, the festival not only celebrates spirituality but also showcases the vibrant traditions and rituals associated with the worship of deities. As devotees come together to partake in the festivities, Chandan Yatra serves as a unifying force, fostering a sense of community and devotion among all participants.


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