Bhubaneshwar: Contrary to the usual practice of dismantling the three gigantic chariots after the annual Rath Yatra, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) is contemplating to preserve them this year.

The chariots were used by Lord Balabdara, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath for the annual 9-day sojourn to Shree Gundicha Temple from the Sri Mandir, the 12th-century main shrine.

A discussion in this regard was held with servitors and carpenters who constructed the three wooden chariots within a record time during the pandemic, said the chief administrator of SJTA Krishan Kumar.

Sources said that the SJTA is contemplating to preserve the chariots as this year's Rath Yatra took place amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and in the absence of devotees.

"We have set up a technical committee to guide the administration on how to preserve the chariots and keep the wooden structures safe from insects," he said.

Every year the chariots are dismantled after the Rath Yatra festival and the wood is used in the temple kitchen. But this year, the SJTA is planning to conserve the three chariots at the museum being constructed at Jagannath Ballav, the Lords garden.

The SJTA chief administrator said a directive has already been issued to shift the chariots to the premises of Jagannath Ballav.

Lord Jagannaths chariot called 'Nandighosh', is the tallest one of 45-feet high with 16 wheels, while Lord Balabhadra's 'Taladhwaja' is 44-feet high with 14 wheels.

Their sister Devi Subhadra's chariot 'Darpadalana' is 43-feet high and has 12 wheels.

The SJTA had earlier decided to document this year’s Rath Yatra in view of its massive arrangements made amidst the pandemic and COVID-19 scare.

For the first time in living memory, the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath and the return journey was held in the pilgrim town under curfew and in the absence of devotees as per the Supreme Court guidelines.

The Rath Yatra was held on June 23 and the return journey on July 1. The chariots were pulled by the servitors of the Lord Jagannath Temple after clearing the COVID-19 test.

Not more than 500 people were allowed to pull a single chariot while strictly adhering to the guidelines on maintaining social distancing.

(With inputs from PTI) 

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