Jagnnath is the mascot of Orissa. Centuries of myths,
legends and history have gone into the making of
the cult of Jagnnath. According to legend, Lord
Jagannath’s original form is Nilamdhaba placed
at Kantilo. In this original form, the presiding
deity of Orissa was worshipped at Kantilo, a primordial
God, by Sabaras, a Pre-Aryan and Pre-Dravidian tribe
of the Austric linguistic family.
It all started in a small cave in the Brahmadri
hills situated on the banks of Mahanadi, which is
known as Kantilo of Nayagarh district today. Here,
Biswabasu the local Sabra Chief worshipped Kitung,
as the God was known in the Sabara dialect. According
to the Puranas, the deity was originally worshipped
in the form of a black tong image know as “Nilamadhaba".
The daru murty (wooden image) came much later.
At some stage of his or her life, every Oriya person
has heard the beautiful legend of Nilamadhaba. According
to myth, Nilamadhba appeared in a dream of Indradyumna,
the legendary King of Malawa. To see the God, the
king consulted his Pundits who informed him that
the Nilamadhba was being worshipped some where in
the forest of Utkalika. It fell upon Bidyapati to
trace out the God. After walking bare foot for several
days through the thick forest of hill tracks along
Mahanadi Bidyapati finally landed in Kalipali a
village, Biswabasu - the tribal Chief played the
perfect host to his guest. The beautiful “Lalita”,
daughter of his host, besotted Bidyapati. The two
got married with the blessings of Biswabasu.
One day, Lalita confided in her husband the fact
that her father worshipped Lord Nilamadhaba in a
cave deep inside the forest. Bidyapati realizing
that his mission was nearing completion, beseeched
her to take him there but on one condition that
Bidyapati would have to go there blind folded.
On the day of reckoning, he carried a handful of
mustard seeds and kept dropping the on the way at
regular intervals. The advent o monsoon saw the
mustard plants form the path leading right up to
the cave. Soon after Bidyapati went back to Malawa
and narrated his experience to Kind Idrayumna. And
both of them immediately set out to invade Utkal.
But while on his way, he was told by a divine voice
that Nilamadhaba had disappeared and was floating
in the Sea. Graciously acceding to the King’s
request, Biswabasu pardoned his son-in-law and agreed
to come to Puri.
There the floating divine image behaved like a long
of wood and came ashore. The idols of Lord Jagnnath
and others were made out of that log and placed
in a tiny temple. The present one came up sometimes
in the 12th Century. The cult of Jagnnath too has
undergone its share of changes down the ages.
Located near the confluence of three rivers-Mahandi,
Kuanria and Kusumi the temple structure is like
the Jagnnath temple of Puri. It stands on the right
bank of Mahanadi. On the left, the hill ranges merge
with the hazy gray horizon. This place is an ideal
spot for tourists who are religious and nature lovers.
Kantilo is also famous for Brass Metal.
A permanent flow of holy water from the feet of
Lord Nilamadhaba is a wonderful sight to be seen
at this place. It is also on of the most interesting
Picnic spots in Orissa.
- Nearest Airport - Bhubaneswar
- Nearest Railway Station - Khurda
- Road Net Work- There is a good
motorable road. The place is situated near Nayagarh
District and is 100 km from Bhubanewswar.