The ancient Sabara Srikhetra Jagannath Temple of Koraput district is among one of the most treasured Jagannath temples across the state of Odisha. The temple is not only a centre for offering to the trinity but also an acclaimed place for divine consciousness of Lord Jagannath. The temple has been named such as it is located atop the hill known as Sabara Srikhetra.
History of the Temple
Historians believe that the temple was constructed somewhere around the 12th century. Both the exteriors and interiors of the temple have been built in typical ancient Indian architectural styles. It is also believed that a native tribal group of Koraput known as ‘Sabaras’ who inhabited the hills, built the temple.
Divineness of the Temple
The Sbara Srikhetra Temple was constructed with the motive to spread the consciousness of the divinity of Lord Jagannath in not only Koraput but also far away places. The trinity preach tolerance, love and oneness of the mankind. Rather than the sectarianism the idols here are a symbol of humanitarianism. The temple is open to the public irrespective of caste, creed or religion. As the temple has tribal connections, it owes its rituals and beliefs to them, without fail.
Council of Analytical Tribal Studies
The temple trust has an inbuilt Council of Analytical Tribal Studies that attempts at restoring and educating the pilgrims about the culture of tribes, their historical significance, societal rituals and their way of livelihoods.
In addition to this, the temple also provides accommodations for outstation pilgrims. The trust believes that irrespective of a person’s social status, everyone should have access to blessings of the Lord. Rich, poor, the learned and educated, the ignorant, foreigners, natives all can visit the temple. As a testament against untouchability and discrimination, the temple stands as a symbol of unity in diversity.
Annual Festivals and Rituals of the Temple
The annual Srikhetra Rath Yatra of the temple shares a common link with the Puri Rath Yatra. The Ratha Yatra is attracts thousands of devotees, tourists and pilgrims visit the sacred celebration ceremony in Koraput Sabara Srikhetra Jagannath Temple. Without doubt, Lord Jagannath carries as much religious significance and divineness for the tribal devotees of Koraput as in Puri. Lord Jagannath is worshipped as ‘Daru Brahma’.
History believes that Biswabasu, who was the ‘Saura’ tribal chief served Lord Jagannath and worshipped Him in a wooden form. Even today, the wooden form of the Lord worshipped by Biswabasu finds its apt place in the temples of Laxmipur, Boipariguda, Narayanpatna, Pottangi, Gunupur, Bissam Cuttack, Nandapur, Kotia and Semiliguda.
The tribal chief performs Chhera Panhanra (the act of sweeping the pious chariot), an auspicious task which in Puri’s Jagannath temple is done by Gajapati Maharaja. Usually heads are honored here every year with chariots with hand woven scarves. One can see different kinds of dance forms being celebrated and various tribal art forms too are performed for the public which draws a huge number of tourists. Tribal handicrafts and craft works are also sold in nearby markets and stalls during this phase.
An annual famous tribal festival called ‘Parab’ is also organised by UNICEF.
Nearest Places to Visit
- Gupteswar Temple
Surrounded by natural scenery an important cave shrine of Lord Shiva situated on a lime stone hill on the bank of river Kolab. The sacred ‘Lingam’ which is known as Gupteswar which literally means ‘Hidden God’. Shivaratri is the major festival which attracts a large number of visitors to this sacred place.
A village called Dumuriput stands between Koraput and Sunabeda which is the abode to the famous Sri Ram Temple, widely known for the highest kneeling Hanuman Statue in the entire state of Odisha. The festival of Ram Navami attracts a large number of devotees annually.
- Kolab Dam
The majestic Kolab Reservoir stands at an altitude of about 3000 ft. above sea level on river Kolab, which generates hydroelectric power. The Kolab dam is highly admired for its scenic beauty and attracts tourist for recreation.
How to Reach
- By Air: The nearest airport is Vishakhapatnam which is at a distance of 130 kms from Koraput.
- By Train: There is no regular trains to Koraput from other major cities of the country. The nearest Railway station is at Jagdalpur which is located at a distance of 82kms.
- By road: One can reach Koraput by buses running from Vishakapattanam and connecting buses from major cities of Odisha.