The activities surrounding the sacred Chandan Jatra start from the observance of the auspicious "Akshyaya Tritiya" which falls in the month of April. The festival is celebrated with much fanfare in Bhubaneswar with the beginning of the annual aquatic sojourn of Lord Lingaraja. The festival owes its genesis to the Chandan Jatra of Lord Jagannath, Puri. Chandan Jatra of Lord Jagannath marks the start of the preparations for the world famous Rath Jatra of Lord Jagannath at Puri.
During the seven days Chandan Jatra, the idol of Lord Lingaraja is taken out of the temple in a procession for a holy journey in the waters of holy Bindusagar Lake on beautifully decorated colourful boats.
On each of these seven days, the deity is taken out of the temple every evening and travels to the island shaped temple situated in the middle of holy Bindusagar lake, where he is worshipped, followed by few rounds of boating in the water before returning to the temple at midnight. The boats of the deities are very richly decorated and are called 'Chapa'. This week-long festival is celebrated with great pomp and show in the backdrop of scenic Bindusagar Lake. Various cultural programmes are also organised on the first day of the festival.
The name of the festival is very symbolic as sandal paste popularly known as chandan and water are its inseparable constituents during the rituals.
The significance of the festival is that sandalwood paste is the best way to save oneself from the heat of the summers and a stroll in the evening when the weather is pleasant helps one keep calm in the oppressive heat.