Rajbalhat ~ Ratha Yatra
Rajbalhat Ratha Yatra
~ Rajbalhat Chariot Festival ~
“Char chak, chodda para, tin ghat; ei neye Rajbalhat” (four crossing, fourteen localities and three bathing areas; consists of Rajbalhat) goes an old saying. Today Rajbalhat is a non descriptive town in the Jangipara block of Hooghly district but its history dates back to the 16th century when it was the capital of the Bhursut (Bhurishrestha) Empire.
The 16th century temple housing the idol of Devi Rajballavi, after whom Rajbalhat is named, can still be seen to this day but sadly the temple has been renovated several times and in the process wiping out centuries of history.
Apart from the temple of Rajballavi, Rajbalhat houses several temples and the most prominent among these is the Radhakanta Temple of Ghatakpara.
Built in 1733 the Radhakanta temple stands on a square base of approximately 20 feet length and rises to a height of about 50 feet. The front face consists of elaborate terracotta. The aat chala temple has a triple arched entrance with the arch panels consisting of elaborate battle scenes of Ramayana. The base panels mainly consist of images of ships & boats and of royal chariots & processions.
The Radhakanta Temple of Ghatakpara is famous for its ratha yatra. Although not considered as one of the leading Ratha Yatras of West Bengal Rajbalhat features a unique rath yatra. Rajbalhat has a unique rath yatra. The rath does not carry the idols of Jagannath, Balaram & Subhadra but instead carries the idols of Radha – Krishna. Also the rath is not pulled by ropes but by iron chains.
The nine pinnacled rath once had brass pinnacles but sadly they have been stolen and are replaced by cheaper metal. The towering colourfull rath runs on 12 gigantic metal wheels and the rath is pulled in a wild rampage through the slushy ground in front of the Rajbalhat High School.
The distance covered has largely been reduced after an accident in 2011, when one of the devote was crushed to death under the wheels of the rath.
Today the Ratha Yatra is organized by the Rajbalhat School committee and a huge fair is held in the school ground. The fair sells any thing from day to day items to home decor artifacts and last but not least the huge variety of mouth watering food.