The metal wheel at the top of Lord
Jagannath temple is
known as Neela Chakra (Blue Wheel). The wheel is made of eight
metals comprising of iron, copper, zinc, mercury lead, brass,silver and gold. It's circumferance is about 36 feet and it is so designed that
there is a wheel within the wheel.
The circumferance of the inner wheel is about 26 feet. Eight hubs join together the inner and the outer wheels. There are decorative
designs on the outer wheel. The thickness of the Neela Chakra is 2 inches.
Thickness of Paridhi
Width of Paridhi
Diameter of central circle
Number of wheel bars
Length of each wheel bar
The wheel is said to be Lord Vishnu's most powerful weapon, Sudarshana
Chakra (disk). Inside Lord Jagannath temple, Lord Vishnu's wheel is also worshipped
in the name of 'Sudarshana'. But inside the temple Sudarshana is not in
the shape of a wheel, but in the shape of a small wood pillar placed to the left
of image of Lord Jagannath. It is believed that the same Sudarshana is also at the top of the
temple and is known by the name of Neela Chakra. There is a specific category of
people among the temple sevayats to serve the Neela
Chakra and they are known as Garuda Sevaka or Chunara Nejoga. The pilgrims hold
these sevayats in high esteem because everyday at Sunset the Garuda Sevakas climb
to the top of 214 feet high temple to fasten flags , offered by the devotees, on
the bamboo mast attached to the Neela Chakra. The pole attached to the Neela Chakra
is 38 feet long. After covering the breadth of the Neela Chakra, this pole extends
25 feet high above it.
The pilgrims consider it an act of holiness to offer flags for the
Jagannath temple. Everyday the Garuda Sevaka carries number of big and small flags
to the top of the temple. The flags are either deep red or yellow in colour, but
a crescent moon and a sun in white colour cloth deck the centre of a flag. The length
of the flag varies from 1 feet to 25 feet and may be more. A devotee has to pay
to the temple committee a certain price to tie the flag and the price is determined
by the length of a flag.
The sevayat before climbing the temple must dress
himself in proper clothings. He wears silk cloth and the upper part of his body
remains bare. He ties the flags, offered by the devotees, around his waist which
he has to tie on the mast that day. He also carries a wooden stick in his hand and sets out to climb
the temple. The stick in hand is meant to be used against the monkeys who may attack.
He climbs so swiftly that within minutes he is seen at the crest of the dancing
hall of the main temple. From here he has to climb about a hundred feet steep wall
to reach the Neela Chakra. He climbs this wall in a very peculiar manner, his back
to the wall and his two outstretched legs on two raised parts of the
wall. After climbing the
body of the temple he reaches the head of the temple. This part is orange-shaped
and it is impossible to climb this without any help. There is a device made of iron
rings and a rope attached permanently on the head of the temple and He reaches the
Neela chakra with the help of this.
The entire breath taking exercise of reaching the Neela Chakra from
the temple floor takes around 20 minutes. After climbing the Neela Chakra, he removes the
old flags from the pole and ties the new ones.
Wheel, at the top of 214 feet high Jagannath Temple, serves very practical purpose technically by
protecting the high rise temple from thunder strokes and lighting. The eight metal
alloy has the capacity to absorb the ferocity of thunder bolts and thus the gigantic
stone-moment remains unharmed. There is a four-inch wide metal-plate which serves
as an earthing,
it connects the wheel and
a well in the southern side of the temple, close to the Goddess Vimala temple. This
metal plate is about 300 feet long.