Nearly five months since the Antarvedi temple chariot was gutted in a fire, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Friday inaugurated the new chariot of the Lakshminarasimha Swamy temple in East Godavari. CM Jagan performed a puja and pulled the chariot along to formally inaugurate it for the Kalyanotsavam, a ten-day long festival at the temple.
The seven-tiered, 40-feet tall wooden chariot was built at a cost of around Rs 1 crore, after the previous one was destroyed in a fire on September 6, 2020. The new chariot, which has six wheels and seven tiers, was made out of 1,330 cubic feet of wood. It is equipped with hydraulic brakes and also has a protective iron shield, according to a statement from the Chief Ministerâs Office.
Construction of the chariot was completed in December, and it has now been formally inaugurated for the 10-day temple festival of Kalyanotsavam, which will go on from February 19 to 28. On February 23, the chariot will be taken out for a procession on the occasion of the ârathotsavamâ or chariot festival.
According to reports, the destroyed old chariot has also been retained on the temple premises. Special bus arrangements have been made for visitors from other parts of the state to visit Antarvedi for the festival.
The old chariot, used during processions on special occasions and temple festivals, was estimated to be around 60 years old. It was parked in a shed on the temple premises when the incident occurred. The incident, which remains unsolved, triggered protests from Hindu organisations and opposition parties including the BJP, Jana Sena Party and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), who alleged that Hindu temples were under threat under the YSRCP government. The state government has handed over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
A departmental probe was carried out into the incident, and two staff members including the templeâs Executive Officer (EO) were suspended for alleged âinefficiencyâ in failing to prevent the incident.
Watch TNMâs video on the new Antarvedi chariot here: