Art & CultureOdisha

Puri Car Festival: Experienced railway staff escort the chariots to attend any breakdown

Bhubaneswar : An experienced team of 40 railway staff from East Coast Railways
(ECoR) had actively participated in escorting three chariots during the Gundicha yatra and
Bahuda yatra covering 3 kms to attend any breakdown.
Indian Railway has been providing a very essential service in facilitating the smooth running
of the three chariots on Badadanda, the venue of the Rath yatra.
Every year a team of East Coast Railway accompanies the chariots with equipment to assist
in removing any obstacle from their forward path. A team of 40 devoted staff of the Mechanical department of East Coast Railway is tasked with this onus.
Legend has it that in the early 1960s, one of the chariots got entangled with an electric pole
resulting in damage to its axle. Senior officials became clueless and confused on what was to
be done.
Incidentally, a Railway Officer who was present to witness the car Festival seriously thought
about the problem and found an analogy with that of restoration during coach derailment.
He suggested doing it by using screw jacks and offered help voluntarily from Railways. It is
since then that East Coast Railways has been rendering the service every year.
The experienced railways actively participate to place the chariots side by side by lifting and
shifting to its position using traversing jacks.
All the jacks are placed at different places under the axle and operated simultaneously for lifting
and shifting of the chariots.
About 30 traversing screw jacks,12 for “Nandighosh ”, 10 for “Taladhwaja” and 8 for
“Debadalana” are used for the purpose.
On the day of Car Festival, the team escorts the chariots during its journey from Shree Mandir
to Shri Gundicha Temple covering 3 kms to attend any breakdown.
On the 5th day of the ceremony (Hera Panchami), all the 3 chariots are reversed and placed at Nak-chana Dwar (exit gate of Shree Gundicha Temple) for the preparation of the return journey.
On Bahuda yatra today the team escorted the chariots during its journey from Shree Gundicha
Temple to Shree Mandir.
On arrival at the Lions Gate, the three chariots are placed side by side in proper position for
“Suna besha of the three presiding deities’ ‘.
Each chariot is shifted 6 ft to 8 ft to position them properly. This is entirely done by this team
from the Railway led by a Senior Section Engineer of the mechanical department of the Puri
Coaching Depot and the service is planned in a very meticulous manner.

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