BY DEBASHREE CHAKRABORTY
PURI, 1 JULY 2022
Hotel rooms, both luxury and standard are completely sold out, railways to run about 205 special trains, as this temple town gears up for its biggest annual festival, the first ‘OPEN RATH YATRA’ of the holy Trinity since the breakout of covid -19 pandemic about two years ago .
Devotees have not been allowed to participate in rath yatra in 2020 and in 2021 due to extremely high covid cases and this year the Odisha Tourism expects between 10 to 15 lakhs tourists from all over India
and even from abroad.
Friday 1 July is Rath Jatra in Puri this year . The return car jatra will be held on 9 July. This festival is held every year on the second day of the Shukla Paksha in the month of June or July.
Various travel agencies have tailor made tour packages for the tourists for this year’s Rath Yatra.
According to the Puri Hotel Owners Association, there are about 1000 rooms in big hotels and another 8000 rooms in small hotels, guest houses, lodges and holiday homes.
Incidentally 60 percent of the devotees and tourists are from West Bengal and the rest are from the other states of the country.
Arrangements have been made for an additional 50 beds in district headquarters hospital for the car festival of Lord Jagannath.
A police control room and traffic control room has been opened. Besides setting up new ticket counters, installation of LED lights and deployments of traffic police and RPF personnel.
Wearing masks in Puri is mandatory and health camps have been set up at railway stations and bus stands this year.
East Coast Railways will operate 205 special trains from 1 July for the Ratha Jatra festival in Puri. The places where the tourists are expected to visit are the Jagannath Temple, Raghurajpur Artist Village, Puri Beach, Konark Beach, Chilka Lake, Swargadwar Beach, Daring Badi, Wonderworld Water Park, Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary, Sakhsigopal Temple etc.
The hospitality sector and the local travel agents have suffered huge losses in the past two years as common people were not allowed during Rath Yatra.
The Odisha tourism department said that they expect that this year the tourist inflow will touch the pre pandemic level. Already the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration has released the Rath Yatra programme schedule and timing on 1 July 2022.