Lord Jagannath at Rajapur (Nabadwip, West Bengal, India), is non-different from Lord Jagannath at Puri. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura re-establishes this fact by citing the ancient history of the Jagannath temple at Rajapur in his book ‘Sri Navadvipa Dham Mahatmya’. Long ago, during the seventh century, there happened to be a demoniac king in Orissa, named Raktabahu, who desecrated temples and terrorized the hearts of the pious. The devotees at Jagannath puri became exceedingly fearful of the king’s sinister intentions and took shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord.
That night the master of Nilachala, Lord Jagannath Deva, appeared in the dream of the head priest and assured him that there was no one in the entire creation, who could harm His divine form or His temple. Just by His mere will, He could keep the miscreants away from that place. Hence the priest need not worry. Yet, The Lord wished to reciprocate with the feelings of His beloved devotees to increase their love for Him manifold.
So He asked the priest to inform all the devotees to remove the deities of Lord Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subhadra Maharani, the very next morning and carry them to Bengal. The Lord also informed the priest that the deities should be carried taking the path through the jungle. The main road should be avoided, as Raktabahu was on his way taking that route.
Lord Jagannath is carried to Bengal
Upon hearing this, the Sabara devotees, who serve by carrying the Lord during the various festivals like Rathayatra, snana-yatra, etc, immediately commenced making the necessary arrangements for the Lord’s journey. Carrying the Lord, they traveled through the day before the night set in. On their way, they offered unto the Lordships whatever fruits, flowers, and leaves they could obtain from the forest. They journeyed like this for twelve continuous days before they reached Simantadvipa, an island situated on the precincts of Nabadwip, in Bengal.
Lord Jagannath is installed at Rajapur
That night, The Lord appeared in the dream of the Sabara leader and expressed His desire to settle down at that very place. Understanding the Lord’s will, the Sabara devotees made appropriate arrangements for the Lord to be installed at Rajapur (situated within Simantadvipa). These Sabara devotees went on to serve their beloved Lord at Rajapur, for generations to come and all of them achieved the perfection of their lives. There is a place in Simantadvipa, known as Sabara-danga, that exists to this day. It is believed that these Sabaras had settled down in this very village during the seventh century to execute the will of their beloved Jagannath. In course of time, centuries after this pastime had taken place, the deities and the temple gradually disappeared from the common sight. However, Lord Jagannath never left Rajapur and in course of time, reappeared again and again at this sacred place. Lord Jagannath, Baladeva, and Subhadra Maharani are diligently served till this day at Rajapur allowing devotees to worship their Lordships to their heart’s content.