Old photo from Jagannath Rath Yatra falsely linked to Ayodhya Ram temple consecration

By: Annet Preethi Furtado
January 25 2024

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Old photo from Jagannath Rath Yatra falsely linked to Ayodhya Ram temple consecration

Screenshots of the viral post that carries an image claiming to show devotees at Ayodhya on January 22, 2024. (Source: X/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

An old photo of devotees participating in Lord Jagannath's Rath Yatra in Puri, Odisha, has been linked to the consecration of Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Claim ID 69cd35b3

The consecration ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya took place on January 22, 2024, with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the proceedings. The event attracted numerous Bollywood celebrities, political leaders, and other dignitaries. The temple's doors opened to the public on January 23, and it's reported that over five lakh devotees visited on the first day. 

What's the claim?

In the wake of the Ram temple ceremony, numerous visuals purportedly from Ayodhya have been circulating on social media. A specific image showing a large crowd on a road has been shared widely, claiming to depict a 7.5 km long stretch of devotees in Ayodhya.

On X (formerly known as Twitter), this image was posted with captions like "Ayodhya... Photo taken at 6:00 PM on 22-01-2024." One X post featuring this image amassed approximately 169,300 views. Archived versions of these posts can be accessed here and here.

Screenshot of the viral X posts. (Source: X/Screenshot?Modified by Logically Facts)

This image also appeared on Facebook, captioned, "Sri Ayodhya...Picture taken Now, 7.5 Kms Sea of Devotees." An archived version can be accessed here.

The claim has also gone viral in regional Indian languages like Assamese and Telugu.

Contrary to these viral claims, however, the photo in question shows devotees at the 2023 Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath in Puri, Odisha, and is not related to the Ayodhya Ram temple event.

What we found

A reverse image search revealed the same photo on an Instagram page dated June 20, 2023, captioned "God's own people!" with hashtags like #Puri, #JagannathTemple, #RathYatra2023, and #Odisha.

(Source: Instagram)

Additionally, news outlet NDTV published this same image in a report with the caption, "Huge crowd of devotees gathered in Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra, see photos," and attributed it to news agency PTI. A similar image was also found in an article on the website of The Shillong Times, a daily from northeast India.

An Instagram user, @rahulnairphotographyz, also posted images of the 2023 Jagannath Yatra on June 21, 2023.

(Source: Instagram)

Comparing the viral image with @rahulnairphotographyz's photos, we noted similarities in the architectural features of the buildings in both sets of images.

Comparison of the viral image with the images posted by an Instagram user in 2023, highlighting the three similar structures.(Source: Instagram/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)

A video from the same Instagram account showed these structures from a different angle, including identifiable shops like M Baazar and Hotel Shreehari Grand.

Screenshot from the Instagram video, showing the three structures and highlighting the names of the shops. (Source: Instagram/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)

Using Google Maps, we confirmed the presence of M Baazar and Hotel Shreehari Grand on Basanta Road in Puri, Odisha, further confirming the place of origin for the video.

Comparison of the shops visible in the Instagram video with the images from Google Maps. (Source: Instagram/Google Maps/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)

This further substantiates that the location of the photo is in Puri, Odisha.

The Jagannath Rath Yatra in Odisha

The Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra, or the 'Festival of Chariots,' is typically held in the month of Ashadha (a month of the Hindu calendar that corresponds to June/July). In 2023, it ran from June 20 to June 28 in Puri. The festival marks the annual journey of deities Lord Jagannath, Balaram, and Subhadra to the Gundicha Temple. This nine-day event is renowned globally for its grandeur and scale.

The verdict

The image circulating on social media, purported to be from Ayodhya on January 22, 2024, is actually from the 2023 Rath Yatra in Puri, Odisha. Thus, we have marked the claim as false.

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