Temple car

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Stone temple car in the Vitthala Temple at Hampi, India.
Asia's Largest Temple car "Aazhi Ther (Big Chariot)" in Thiruvarur, Tamil Nadu.

Temple cars[1][2] are chariots that are used to carry representations of Hindu gods. The car is usually used on festival days, when many people pull the cart.

The size of the largest temple cars inspired the Anglo-Indian term Juggernaut (from Jagannath), signifying a tremendous, virtually unstoppable force or phenomenon.

The procession of the Asia's largest and greatest temple car of Thiruvarur Thiyagarajar Temple in Tamil Nadu features prominently in an ancient festival held in the town.[3] The annual chariot festival of the Thygarajaswamy temple is celebrated during April – May, corresponding to the Tamil month of Chitrai. The chariot is the largest of its kind in Asia and India weighing 300 tonne with a height of 90 feet. The chariot comes around the four main streets surrounding the temple during the festival. The event is attended by lakhs of people from all over Tamil Nadu.[4]

The Aazhi Ther is the biggest temple chariot in Tamil Nadu. The 30-foot tall temple car, which originally weighed 220 ton, is raised to 96 feet with bamboo sticks and decorative clothes, taking the its total weight to 350 tons. Mounted on the fully decorated temple car, the presiding deity – Lord Shiva – went around the four streets with the devotees pulling it using huge ropes. Two bulldozers were engaged to provide the required thrust so that devotees could move the chariot.[5]

As of 2004, Tamil Nadu had 515 wooden carts, 79 of which needed repairs.[6] Annamalaiyar Temple, Tiruvannamalai, Chidambaram Natarajar Temple are among the temples that possess these huge wooden chariots for regular processions. The Natarajar Temple celebrates the chariot festival twice a year; once in the summer (Aani Thirumanjanam, which takes place between June and July) and another in winter (Marghazhi Thiruvaadhirai, which takes place between December and January). Lord Krishna of Udupi has five temple cars, namely Brahma ratha (the largest), Madya ratha (medium), kinyo (small), and the silver and gold rathas.


List of places with Temple cars[edit]

Lalgudi Saptharisvar temple car

List of temples/cities having Golden cars[edit]



Tamil Nadu[edit]

Andhra Pradesh[edit]

  • Lord Shiva temple
  • Narasimhaswami temple and tirumala Sri vari ratham

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rajarajan, R. K. K.; Rajukalidoss, Parthiban. "Nāyaka Chefs-d'oeuvre: Structure and Iconography of the Śrīvilliputtūr Tēr". Acta Orientalia.
  2. ^ Rajarajan, R. K. K. "Iconographic Programme in Temple Cars: A Case Study of Kūṭal Alakar tēr". East and West, Istituto Italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente (IsIAO), Rome.
  3. ^ "Official Website of Arulmigu Thiyagaraja Swamy Temple,Tiruvarur - Festival". thiyagarajaswamytemple.tnhrce.in. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  4. ^ "Festivals, Culture & Heritage | Tiruvarur District, Government of Tamil Nadu | India". Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  5. ^ Kumar, K. Sambath (16 June 2016). "Car festival held at Tiruvarur Thyagaraja Swamy Temple after a gap of six years". The Times of India. Retrieved 9 March 2021.
  6. ^ "Government of Tamil Nadu Welcomes You". tn.gov.in. Archived from the original on 19 December 2012.