Chhatia Bata is a unique temple located in the village of Chhatia, midway between the towns of Jajpur and Cuttak. On the face of it, it is a regular temple dedicated to Jagannath, Balbhadra and Subhadra. We know there are such temples everywhere in Odisha and wherever Odia people live.
What makes it unique is the sequence in which three Murtis are placed. At the Jagannath Temple in Puri, Devi Subhadra is placed between her brothers Jagannath and Baladeva. This is usually the sequence most temples follow.
However, at the Chhatia Bata temple, the order is Jagannath, Balbhadra and Subhadra. Did you notice that this is how we take their names when we speak? Yes, so in a way this temple follows an oral tradition, literally giving shape to how we address the three. In modern parlance, it is the case of – What you say is what you see!
Philosophically, it signifies a new world order.
Chhatia Bata is also a futuristic temple as it is dedicated to the Kalki Avatar of Vishnu. This tenth avatar of Vishnu as we know is yet to take place, but in India where time is always cyclic for us, we have temples like this reminding us of him.
Sant Achyutananda or some say Hadi Das wrote – Jiba Jagata Hoieba Lina – Baishi Pahache Kheliba Mina. It literally means All the living beings will vanish one day, on the 22 steps of the Jagannath temple at Puri, the fish will play.
This refers to Pralaya or floods that come at the end of the creation cycle, engulfing every living and non-living entity. It further says that Chhaitia only will stay above the water.
When the injustice in the world reaches unbearable levels, Vishnu will take the avatar of Kalki holding his long sword called Nandaka and riding his horse. He will bring order to the world and bring back the Satya Yuga or the age of righteousness.
And, all this will start from Chhatia Bata temple.
Bata or Vata is the Banyan Tree, which is considered sacred in India. Sure enough, this temple is home to an old Vata Vriksha or Banyan Tree. In fact, it is so integral to this temple that it is a part of the temple name.
This temple is also the Sadhna Peetha of Mahapurusha Hadi Das, who lived from 1772 – 1830 CE. This temple is where he did his meditation or Sadhna. It is also his Samadhi Peetha where he continues to live after leaving his mortal body. He was believed to be an incarnation of Sant Achyutananda and authored many works like Malika – an inversion of Kali Ma, Shankhanavi, and Many Gitas. His works have been compiled into Hadi Das Rachanvali.
You have to take a flight of steps to enter the temple. It almost looks like a fortified area with tall impregnable walls surrounding the temple. From the outside, you can see almost nothing of the temple.
You do see the Kalki Avatar riding a horse on top of the walls. On top of the entry arch, there is a Mural of the Devi with various deities and asuras surrounding her.
The temple is believed to date back to the 12th CE, during the reign of Anantavarman Deva.
Inside there are many big and small temples inside the complex. I remember a temple dedicated to Ma Kali, another one to Yama which is not very common, and Ganesha. I remember a lot of colorful paintings on the temple walls.
The main temple is of course dedicated to Jagannath, Balbhadra and Subhadra. It is also called the second Sri Kshetra in Odisha. It follows the same daily rituals as the Jagannath temple at Puri. Yes, that also means you can get Mahaprasad here too.
There are individual temples dedicated to each of the three siblings with their giant Murtis. Peculiar thing is that you can see them from the side only as they are not facing the door. A mirror has been placed in front of Balbhadra so that you can see him even while standing behind him.
Balbhadra and Jagannath are riding a white and black horse respectively and holding swords in their hand eluding to the future Kalki Avatar. It is believed their swords are growing in size with time.
The Annual Rath Yatra of the temple attracts many pilgrims to this temple.
Peda is a pretty national sweet and is most often used as Temple Prasad. Just like Dharwad Peda and Mathura Peda, Chhatia in Odisha is also famous for its Peda.
There is no better place to find it than right outside the Chhatia Bata temple. You can see vendors in shops or even on cycles carrying baskets full of inviting Pedas that are well-branded with punch marks on them.
Chhatia is located about 50 kms from Jajpur and Bhubaneshwar, so you can approach it from either side.
You can stay at Jajpur, Chandikole, Cuttack or Bhubaneshwar.
Photography is strictly not allowed in this temple.