Well known as the second biggest pilgrimage gatherings in the world, Ganga Sagar Mela is the day when millions of pilgrims from all over the world gather to take a sacred dip in the holiness of River Ganga. On the sacred occasion of Makar Sankranti (14th January), in Sagar Island's silver sand acres, the festival is celebrated with grandeur followed by a sacred pooja and offerings in the Kapil Muni Temple.
The annual fair runs on the holy river Gangotri banks for two months (January - February), usually crowded the most on the Makar Sankranti. The crowd comprises pilgrims from all over the country, Nepal, Thailand, Canada, West Indies, Australia, and many more. People from all over the world unite at the banks of the converging holy rivers the Ganges and Bay of Bengal to celebrate and indulge, transforming themselves into great souls of purity.
Origin, History, and Significance of Sagar Mela
Located about 130 km south of Kolkata, Kapil Muni temple holds a very sacred and intense story behind the actual paavam beliefs being secretly followed today.
Sage Kapil Muni, son of Kardam Muni, was one of the blessed incarnations of Lord Vishnu. At the time, King Sagar was conducting a huge prosperous Ashwamedha Yaga to win over the world. Indra deva, the lord of heavens, stole the sacrificial horses and hastily tied them in the patal lok (below the earth) beside Kapil Muni's Ashram out of jealousy.
On finding the horse in Kapil Muni's Ashram, the king's sons mistook Kapil Muni as the thief and blamed him for the same. Kapil Muni was infuriated with the false blame and cursed the boys for reducing into ashes. Later Bhagirathi, the only grandson of King Sagar, meditated for years convincing the holy river Ganga to flow down towards the Bay of Bengal over his ancestors' cursed mortals to pour salvation to their souls.
Today, millions of people reach the Sagar islands in the banks of the confluence of the Ganges and the sea to take a dip and attain salvation from all the sins. The Kapil Muni temple today resembles the old Kapil Muni's Ashram, where people splurge to offer prayers during the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti.
When is the Mela Celebrated?
Aforesaid, the festival is celebrated on 14th January every year during Makar Sankranti. Although the annual fair runs in Sagardwip Island for around two whole months of January and February, the day of Makar Sankranti is the ideal and righteous day of offering prayers.
Because the day is super crowded with pilgrims all over the world, you can also attend the Mela in the month of February and other days of January.
How and in which state is Ganga Sagar Mela celebrated?
Like mentioned before, Gangasagar Mela is celebrated on the banks of the Ganges at Sagardwip(West Bengal) on the sacred day of Makar Sankranti by dipping oneself into the river and then offering prayers at the Kapil Muni's temple.
How to reach?
By air-Kolkata airport i.e., Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport.
By train-Sealdah South lines from Kolkata to Namkhana. Ferry cross available at Bakkhali to Sagar Island.
By road-Esplanade, Kolkata to Harwood point.
After the ferry crossing, catch the Kachuberia bus to reach the pilgrim destination.
Things to do in Gangasagar/Sagar Island
Sagar Island is known for its Mela, but there are many other tourist attractions you don't want to miss.
- Bakkhali Beach- A lesser-known uncommercialized beach is worth the visit. The silver sands with Casuarina trees is pure bliss.
-Directions- A bus ride from Kolkata to Namkhana, followed by a ferry ride.
- Frazerganj- The place spotted just 2kms north to Bakkhali, Frazerganj houses a huge wind energy farm that generates about 1MW of energy.
-Directions- A cycle van is a fun ride to reach Frazergunj from Bakkhali. You can opt for a direct landing from Kolkata as well.
- Kapil Muni Temple- It is an incomplete tour to Gangasagar Mela if you skip Kapil Muni Temple. The core reason for Gangasagar Mela lies in Kapil Muni's restored Ashram where people offer prayers after the holy dip at the Gangotri to exonerate one's sins.
- Onkarnath Temple- Yet another peaceful temple surrounded with luscious green trees at Sagardwip, Onkarnath temple is devoted to lord Onkar and his preaching.
If you are interested in being a part of the upcoming Gangasagar Mela 2021, you can book a bus through redBus. redBus connects you to the pilgrim hostage comfortably from all over the country, Malaysia, and Singapore. On the upcoming auspicious day of Makar Sankranti, Booking a bus ticket online through redBus is the quickest and easiest. Download the redBus app now or visit the redBus, India website, to book your tickets and participate in Gangasagar Mela in Kolkata.
NOTE: In light of the recent Coronavirus pandemic, we at redBus would like to urge you to take all necessary precautions when you travel and follow every instruction provided by your local government. If you're not planning on traveling, practice social distancing and stay indoors to help slow down the spread of COVID-19 or the Coronavirus disease and prevent it from spreading any further. Stay safe!