The citizens of Chennai need not go all the way to Puri to worship Lord Jagannath, for a temple is now here at Reddy Kuppam Road, Kannathur, off New Mahabalipuram road. The main deities of this temple are Lord Jagannath, Devi Subadra and Lord Balabadra. One can pay obeisance to Lord Yoganarasimha as well. The other Sannidhis in this temple are those of Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha, Devi Gajalakshmi and Devi Vimala. There is also a Navagraha sannidhi. A huge dhwaja sthambha stands majestically at the entrance to the main shrine.
The shrine is made up of black granite from Kancheepuram and white marble from Rajasthan and built in Oriya style. The temple precincts are aesthetically beautified with green lawns and flowerbeds that lay over an area of one acre. The flowers from the garden alone are used for the pooja. Even the priests are from Orissa and they chant the slokas in Oriya. The pooja is also performed in the Oriya style.
This temple was consecrated seven years ago, on January 26, 2001. It is a replica of the Jagannath temple at Puri. The deities of this temple are also made from the wood of the neem tree from which the original deities of Puri were made.
The most important festival is the rath yatra, which is celebrated on the same day as in Puri. The deities of the temple, Lord Jagannath, Devi Subadra and Lord Balabadra are taken around the Kannathur village during the rath yatra.
Unlike Puri, there is a single rath, made of stainless steel, which is decorated with wood and cloth. Prof. S.N. Majhi, Managing Trustee of the temple says with an element of justifiable pride that this is the only temple in the world to have a stainless steel rath for Lord Jagannath.
The best of traditions of Orissa’s paintings still lives in Pata Chitras. It is a living art form that exists in Orissa since many centuries. These special paintings with vegetable dye depicting stories from epics are found in ancient as well as in modern temples of Orissa.
The Jagannath temple in Chennai also has Pata Chitra paintings on the walls and ceilings of the shrine of Lord Jagannath. The incarnations of Lord Vishnu are also depicted.
The devotees of Chennai are now privileged to have the darshan and benign grace of the Lord of the universe, Lord Jagannath, in their neighbourhood.