Amaravati, Feb 19 (PTI): Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Friday inaugurated the Chariot (Ratham) of Sri Lakshminarasimha Swamy temple at Antarvedi in East Godavari district coinciding with the auspicious day of 'Ratha Saptami'.
The Chief Minister offered puja and aarti and dragged the giant 40-feet high chariot with his cabinet colleagues to herald its inauguration, an official release said.
A 60-year-old wooden chariot of the Antarvedi temple was gutted in a mysterious fire in September last year, sparking a political and religious row which forced the state government to seek a CBI inquiry.
The new chariot was built at a cost of Rs 1 crore after a fire gutted the previous one on September 5.The Chief Minister had instructed replacement and work on the new chariot was completed in record time ahead of the annual 'Kalyanotsavam', it said.
Opposition parties BJP, TDP and Jana Sena had blamed the state government for the chariot burning incident and it also acquired religious hues, with some groups alleging the lackadaisical attitude of the state government in safeguarding Hindu temples.
Jagan, who was given a traditional welcome on his arrival, had a darshan of the main deity and participated in the puja after which he was given Vedic blessings (vedasirvachanam), the release said.
The seven-tier Chariot was inaugurated with the Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues formally dragging it forward.
The new chariot with six wheels and seven tiers was made out of 1330 cubic feet of wood and is equipped with hydraulic brakes and has a protective shed with iron gates.
State Ministers Chelluboyina Venugopala Krishna, K Kannababu, P Viswaroop, MPs, MLAs, and officials were present on the occasion. PTI GDK BN BN BN