Juggernaut: Indian Temple Or Unstoppable Force?


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In 2014, a grad student in Kolkata named Ujaan Ghosh came across an old book by a Scottish missionary. And as Ghosh paged through the book, he noticed the missionary kept using a word over and over: Juggernaut. But the missionary wasn’t using it the way we do today—to mean an unstoppable, overwhelming force. He was using it to talk about a place: a temple in Puri, India. So Ghosh dug further, and as he grasped the real story of where the English word, juggernaut, had come from, he realized there was just no way he could keep using it.

A transcript of this episode is being processed and will be available within a week.


Chris Egusa is an audio producer and 2020 KALW Audio Academy fellow.

Dylan Thuras is co-founder of Atlas Obscura, and host of the Atlas Obscura podcast.

Ujaan Ghosh is a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Footnotes & Further Reading:

Read Ujaan Ghosh’s article on the origins of the word “juggernaut.”

Learn more about Jagannath Temple in Atlas Obscura.

Listen to more episodes of the Atlas Obscura podcast.


This episode was a collaboration between Science Diction and Atlas Obscura. It was produced by Johanna Mayer and Chris Egusa, and edited by Elah Feder and John DeLore. Daniel Peterschmidt is our composer, and Danya AbdelHameid fact checked the episode. It was mixed by Luz Fleming.

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