Puri railway station to be adorned with wheels of Rath Yatra chariots

New Delhi, Apr 30 (PTI) The Indian Railways will procure three wheels, one each from the three chariots that represent the famous Jagannath Rath Yatra, to place them at the centre of the concourse of Puri railway station being redeveloped under the Amrit Bharat Station Scheme.

“Every year when the Rath Yatra ends, the three chariots are dismantled and the timber is used in the temple kitchen to cook “Kotha Bhoga” (dishes for the gods),” said Manonjaya Rath, one of the principal architects from Rath Architectonic that has designed the new station.

He added, “However, the Indian Railways, in accordance with our design, will procure one wheel from each of the three chariots from the upcoming Rath Yatra to be held in late June or early July this year and these will be placed in the world-class railway station at Puri.”

Puri railway station is one of the 1,321 stations of the country which is being redeveloped to offer world-class passenger amenities under the Amrit Bharat Station Scheme, and it is expected to be ready by July, 2024.

As per the approved design plan, the three wheels would be placed at the centre of the concourse at the Puri railway station.

“This installation will serve as a gateway to the holy city of Puri for all devotees and tourists arriving at the station. Not only will it reflect the history and traditions of the city, it will also invoke a religious and spiritual feeling in the mind of the devotees even before visiting the Jagannath Temple,” said Manonjaya.

Prateek Rath, another principal architect, said that the Puri station has been conceptualised by taking the local culture into consideration and the ‘Three Chariot Wheel’ concept has been integrated into the concourse of the railway station.

The Rath Yatra, also called the Ratha Jatra in the local Odia language, is considered the oldest and largest Hindu chariot festival celebrated annually.

“During the festival, three deities (Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra) are drawn by a multitude of devotees in three massive, wooden chariots to Gundicha temple whereby they reside there for a week and then return to the Jagnannath Temple,” Prateek said, highlighting the religious aspects of the festival.

He added, “This festival celebrates Lord Jagannath’s journey with his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra from the Jagannath Temple to their aunt’s house, the Gundicha temple.”

In January this year, the East Coast Railway Zone, in a press briefing, had announced that the redeveloped Puri railway station would reflect the traditional architectural features of the famed Jagannath Temple and have all modern amenities for the convenience of passengers.

Railway officials said that the station is being rebuilt in accordance with the Kalinga architecture that originated in the fourth century BC and since the iconic Jagannath Temple is a living example of Kalinga style of architecture, the exterior of the station will reflect that.

The Indian Railways awarded the station redevelopment contract to Rath Architectonic in July 2022 and the construction work was started in January 2023.

According to architect Prateek, the station is being redeveloped keeping in mind the passenger footfall 40 to 50 years from now.

“At present, around 6,000 to 7,000 passengers arrive at the station daily. The redevelopment will enhance the capacity to 40,000, which is the projected footfall in 2060-65,” Prateek said.

“Our aim is to make the station a monument so that people, who come to visit the Puri temple, carry that feeling of grandness till the railway station while leaving the city,” he added.

As per the redevelopment plan, the station is proposed to have three floors with world-class amenities, starting from easy access to the station, convenient and spacious parking to accommodate more than 500 cars, energy-efficient building, physical as well as automatic ticket counters, and waiting lounge, among others.

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