Gangasagar Pilgrimage, better known as Gangasagar Mela is the biggest attraction for hundreds of pilgrims and tourists during Makar Sankranti (mid-January). It is the biggest fair in held in West Bengal at Sagardwip, an island in the Sunderbans. Every year thousands of pilgrims from all over India from different castes and creed attend this fair to take a holy dip at the confluence of the River Ganges and Bay of Bengal. If you want to be a part of this fair, you don’t have to be a pilgrim; lovers of adventure find this an amazing place too. It’s a new experience altogether. Here is a list showing 7 interesting things about this fair:
You must visit the Kapil Muni Temple, which is not far from the fair. Built in 1973, it has a history which says that three previous temples in its place were washed away by the sea and storm. Most pilgrims usually head to this temple after taking a dip into the waters, so, you must be careful to avoid excessive rush. But it’s definitely going to be a new experience!
All of us know how huge the Kumbh Mela is in scale and how many people gather there every year. The Gangasagar pilgrimage and fair comes second to the former in terms of human footfall. While the Kumbh Mela comes after four years, and is held at different locations of the north, central and central-west parts of the country, the Gangasagar Mela is observed annually and only on Sagardwip (Sagar Island). If you fear loosing loved ones, then this is surely your destination!
Gangasagar finds mention in various works of literature since a very long time. It can be traced back to early ages when the epics were being written. The Ramayana and The Mahabharata have mentions of Gangasagar. The place has also found in many other tales of Hindu Mythology. A poem by Rabindranath Tagore and a novel by Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay are also dedicated to this Mela!
There is a lighthouse at Sagardwip which works as a vantage point for observers and visitors who wish to get a full view of the beautiful sea and silvery beaches. The beach has not been much affected by tourism and therefore the nascent charm still remains. From here, you will be able to have a glance of the beauty of Nature at its best!
This is something you will keep wondering while your way back home! During Makar Sankranti, which usually falls on the 14th or 15th of January, temperatures are extremely low and can even go down to 9 degrees. But once you are there you will notice pilgrims of all ages (mostly old) taking a dip into the waters right in the morning. Its not actually morning, its dawn. The temperature close to the sea is slightly moderate, but that does not explain this in any way. How cold must it be and how devoted the pilgrims must be.
Among thousands of pilgrims who attend Gangasagar Mela are the Naga Sadhus. They live in camps, where they perform rituals. These rituals are attended by many devotees. They even perform various forms of yoga, which is meant for others to watch. You will be amazed at how flexible they are at this. Some Naga Sadhus have white paint smeared all over their bodies and some are without it. These Naga Sadhus are one of the biggest attractions in the Gangasagar Mela.
It’s the time of Makar Sankranti and it’s the time for sweets! Nolen Gur or date jaggery is available at this time of the year and is vital ingredient used in all sweets and desserts preparations. Bengali sweet tooth satiates its buds at this time of the year with a large variety of sweet preparations. Some of the most popular methais prepared at this time are – Pithe, Patishapta, Dudh Puli, and Nolen Gurer Shondesh to name a few. These are delicacies you must have when you visit this Gangasagar.