Festivals of Odisha: Dhanuyatra


Artistes associated with the Dhanu Yatra Monday met Bargarh District Collector Jyoti Ranjan Pradhan and handed over a memorandum to him, demanding financial assistance. This year, keeping the prevailing COVID-19 situation in mind, the district administration has cancelled the world famous Dhanu Yatra.

Dhanu Yatra

  • Dhanu Jatra or Dhanu Yatra is an annual drama-based open air theatrical performance celebrated in Bargarh, Odisha.
  • Spread across a 8 km radius area around the Bargarh municipality, it is world’s largest open air theater, one that finds a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records.
  • It is based on mythological story of Krishna (locally known as Krushna), and his demon uncle Kansa.
  • Originating in Bargarh, in the present day play, the enactments of the play are being performed in many other places in Western Odisha. The major one of these is the original one at Bargarh.
  • It is about the episode of Krishna and Balaram’s visit to Mathura to witness the Dhanu ceremony organized by their (maternal) uncle Kansa. The plays start with the dethroning of emperor Ugrasena by the angry prince Kansa, over the marriage of his sister Debaki with Basudeba, and ends with death of Kansa, and Ugrasen restoring back to become the king.
  • There is no written script used in these enactments. During this festival Kansa can punish people with penalty for their mistakes. Biju Patnaik, the former Chief Minister of Odisha was fined once along with his ministers.

The department of Culture of the Government of India has accorded National Festival status to Dhanu Yatra on November 2014.


Some devotees of Lord Krishna of Bargah have started regular communication to Brindavan in 18th Century. River Yamuna is situated in the west of Mathura, Gopapur is situated in the west of River Yamuna and Brindavan is situated in the southwest of Gopapur. The geographical area of Bargrah, Ambapali and River Zeera of Bargarh District look similar to that of Mathura, Gopa, Brindavan and River Yamuna respectively as because River Zeera (Yamuna) is situated in the west of Bargarh (Mathura), Ambapali (Gopapur) is situated in the west of River Zeera (Yamuna) and Ambatota (Brindavan) is situated in the southeast of Ambapali (Gopapur).

The devotees started the first Divya Mahotsava Dhanuyatra in 1870 Shakabda Pousa Sukla Pratipada Sombar (Monday) dated 12.01.1948 at 12:00 noon and ends on Pousa Purnami Sombar (Monday) dated 26.01.1948 at 9:00 am.

Geography of Bargarh District

The Bargarh district lies between 20.20.0″ North latitude and 83.37.15″ East longitude. It is one of the western most districts of the State of Orissa and came in to existence as a district from 1st April 1993. It is bounded on the north by the State of Chhatisgarh and on the east by the district of Sambalpur, on the south lies the district of Balangir and Subarnapur and on the west the district of Nawapara. The district has an area of 5834 Sq.Kms.

The Bargarh district can be divided into 3 natural divisions, (1) Bargarh Plain (2) Borasambar (3) Ambabhona & Lakhanpur. The greater portion is an open plain of considerable fertility drained by the Danta and the Jira, the two tributaries of Mahanadi. To the north of this plain runs the Barapahar range of hills and to the south-west lie the valley of river Ong (Ang). The Bargarh plain is not a flat alluvial tract but an expanse of undulating country sloping down from the Barapahar hills in the north, to the Mahanadi valley in the east. It contains a good portion of the cultivated land of the district and its undulating character affords excellent scope for irrigation reservoirs. The soil is a mixture of sand and gravel as well as of clay. Its a good rice soil and unlike the more fertile black cotton soil it grows few seeds and does not harbour dangerous insect pests. This tract is nowhere bare of vegetation and the villages are found embowered with mango groves.

The Borasambar (Padampur) tract lies to the south-west of the Bargarh plain. It is bounded by the high hills on the north and south and the intervening plain is drained by river Ong (Ang), the valley of which particularly in the eastern portion is best suited to agriculture. Its soil contains some river slit and enriched by hill drainage.

The Ambabhona and Lakhanpur area is cut off from the rest of Bargarh plain by a long spur of the Barapahar hills running south-west for a distance of nearly 48 Km. This hill forms a barrier to communication with the rest of the district. Ambabhona is a fairly level tract sloping down from the hills to the river Mahanadi and is under close cultivation. Lakhanpur is a wide valley sorrounded by forest clad hills and is also closely cultivated.


  1. Orissa Post
  2. Wikipedia
  3. Official Website of Bargarh Dhanuyatra

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