The second most popular mela after Kumbh Mela is the Ganga Sagar Mela. It is India’s biggest fair held in Sagardwip, West Bengal and witnesses a large number of people pouring in.
Celebrated with great vigour and enthusiasm, the festival has a cultural and spiritual significance where pilgrims dip themselves in the holy waters of Ganga to purify their souls.
Held during the winters, the Mela is an annual gathering of pilgrims which see a number of rituals, lit lamps and chanting in and around Sagardweep.
Ganga is regarded as the holiest river in the Hindu mythology. The river originates in Gangotri and marks an end of her journey in Sagardweep where it merges with the Bay of Bengal.
There is a myth which goes around that if one bathes in the Ganga here, he/she would be cleansed of all his/her sins.
The number of tourists has been increasing year after year; thus, the festival is such a grand affair when thousands of devotees from all races, backgrounds, cultures and nationalities take a dip in the holy waters and worship Lord Surya.
The tourists after taking a dip also visit the temple of Kapil Muni, a well-known sage of the Hindu mythology. The fair takes place on the day of Makar Sankranti which is celebrated every year on either the 14th or the 15th of January.
A place of exceptional beauty and religious significance, Sagardweep is a beautiful island, just off the Bengal coast. It is the point where the river Ganga meets the Bay of Bengal, and thus it has religious connotations.
Sagardweep has some great beaches for rejuvenation and relaxation and is also a haven for trekkers. It is known throughout the world for hosting the Ganga Sagar Mela in January when thousands of devotees take a dip in the Ganga in Sagardweep.
Among the crowd who visit the fair, the Naga Sadhus are the highest in numbers. Their bodies are generally smeared with ash while they perform yoga and rituals at their camps. These rituals are also attended by most devotees making it another popular attraction at the fair.
How to Reach
Sagardweep is located just 124 kms from Kolkata and can be reached via railways, roadways and airways.
Some trains connect the various regions to Howrah, and from there one can take a taxi to Sagardweep. There is the EMU train service available which can be boarded at Sealdah southern section and takes one to Kardweep.
From Kardweep, rickshaw pullers are available who ferry one to the destination.
Another Railway option is to take jetties from the Namkhana Railway Station.
One can drive from Sagardweep to Kolkata.
However, if you are travelling from Mumbai, Delhi or Chennai then the following highways can be taken.
Mumbai to Kolkata, NH 53
Delhi to Kolkata, NH 19
Chennai to Kolkata, NH 16
The closest airport is Netaji Subhas Chandra Airport in Kolkata. From Kolkata again the roadways can be used.
The State Government puts up camps at the venue, and the visitors can take accommodation there. There are numerous cottages and hotel rooms around the site where one can stay comfortably.
Places To Visit Nearby
- Kapil Muni temple is one attraction where the pilgrims generally pay a visit after taking a dip as already mentioned above.
- The sea beaches are also a must visit.
- The Fairgrounds
- The Sagar Lighthouse and Port
- The Ramakrishna Mission Ashram
- Carry mosquito nets and snake repellent as the snake bite mortality is high.
- Carry warm clothes as it may get a little chilly.
- Carry emergency lights as the electricity supply is unstable.
- Do not travel at night.
- Do not litter to avoid government penalties.
Thus, to witness an unforgettable sight of lamps and to reverberate in the holy chants of the place, a visit to the Ganga Sagar Mela is something worth experiencing at least once in one’s lifetime.