Mindless of the sweltering heat, over six lakh devotees converged in this temple town for the Bahuda Yatra or homecoming festival of the Hindu god Jagannath and two other deities on Wednesday.
"Despite adverse weather, more than six lakh devotees arrived by 11 am More people are likely to arrive by evening," Laxmidhar Pujapanda, the temple's public relation officer, said.
"Most of the rituals were performed at least two hours ahead of the schedule today (Wednesday) despite the adverse weather conditions," he added.
The Bahuda Yatra marks the return of Lord Jagannath, brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra from the Gundicha temple to the main Jagannath temple, both in Puri.
The return festival is held nine days after the annual Rath Yatra, which marks the journey of the three deities from the 12th century Jagannath temple in three splendidly decorated wooden chariots to Gundicha temple, about two kilometres away.
The deities return to their abode in the same splendidly decorated chariots, which thousands of devotees pull with the help of ropes during the Bahuda Yatra.
"Elaborate security measures have been put in place in the city to prevent any untoward incident. More then 5,000 policemen have been deployed. Besides, large numbers of policemen have been deployed to manage traffic," a police officer said.
The city, 56 km from Bhubaneswar, has been witnessing scorching heat conditions for the past few days.