This is the third popular Jagannatha temple in Odisha after Puri and the ‘Shabara Shreekshetra’ in Koraput. The annual unique Ratha Yatra is a major attraction in the town of Baripada. The annual Ratha Yatra in Baripada is observed during the Dwitiya of Shuklapakshya Ashadha or during the second week of July. The Yatra is celebrated a day after it is celebrated in Puri. The mode and custom of celebration is similar to that of Balasore, with two Rathas- one for the deities; Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra and one for Subhadra alone. Another uniqueness of Baripada’s ratha yatra is that the entire process takes a longer period than Puri’s giving a real-time feel of a yatra or festival. While in Puri, the chariots are tugged on the same day of the pahandi or the carrying of the Lords from the sanctum sanctorum to the cars, in Baripada, the deities rest for the whole evening. The following day, Lord Balabhadra’s chariot or Taladhwaja is taken to the Gundicha temple and Devi Subhadra’s to the middle of the Grand Road. On the third day, Devi Subhadra’s and Lord Jagannath’s chariot Nandighosh are taken to Gundicha temple. The same process is followed during the return sojourn or bahuda yatra.
When the chariots reach Gundicha temple, laddoos are thrown from the rathas to the frenzied crowd that waits patiently to get a grain of the sacred prasad. The ‘extended pahandi’ or tugging of the chariot of Devi Subhadra by a ‘women only’ crowd comes as a symbol of women empowerment that dates back to 1975. What puts Baripada on the top of the chart relating to ratha yatra celebrations is perhaps the association of women with the festival. While the buzz around women empowerment is merely being suggested or still in its infancy in many States, Baripada has led the path, decades ago. The culturally sensitive city not only attracts crowd from the neighboring districts, but also from other areas of bordering Jharkhand and Bengal. The density of the crowd and the size of the chariot in Baripada also stand next only to Puri. This is the major exception of Jagannatha Temple of Baripada. There is an Ananda Bazaar (means God’s restaurant in Oriya) where visitors can buy and have the delicious and healthy Abadha/Mahaprasada (food offered to the deities). Being one of the major tourist attractions of Mayurbhanj district, this temple has attracted many tourists from India and abroad.
Besides the Bada Jagannath temple at Baripada, there is also another important Jagannath temple locally known as Banthia Jagannath temple.