Bhavnath Shivratri Mela, Junagadh
Spanning across five days in the month of Magha that usually comes between February and March, the Bhavnath Mela brings together thousands of worshippers of Lord Shiva from across the state of Gujarat and around the country. The highlights of the event are the multitudes of Nagas- the naked sadhus who are spiritual men who display incredible physical feats and sleight of hand at performances that last on all five days. The festival culminates on the Maha Shivaratri night as the Junagadh Shivratri Mela with ceremonies and grand processions. For both the tourist and the worshippers, the Mela is an incredible sight to behold as the deity’s energy surges through the thousands who participate.
When and where does the Junagadh Shivratri Mela 2021 take place?
The Bhavnath fair starts five days before the Maha Shivaratri festival every year. For the year 2021, the Maha Shivratri will be on Thursday, 11th March. The venue is the Bhavnath Mahadev temple, and the entry is open for all.
About the Junagadh Bhavnath Mandir
The Bhavnath Mahadev temple is located at the base of Mount Girnar in the village of Bhavnath. The origin of the temple is shrouded in legends and mysteries that go back to the Puranic times. One of the popular beliefs surrounding the temple is that when Shiva and Parvati were travelling over the temple in their sky chariot, some of Parvati’s divine ornaments fell close to the temple earning it the name ‘Vastra Putakshetra.’ The temple is the place for two significant celebrations every year- The “Girnar Lili Parikrama” during the months of October and November and the Maha Shivratri during the months of February and March.
The Bhavanath Mela
The Bhavnath Mela is a five-day event that culminates on Maha Shivratri’s night with worshipping Lord Shiva. The Mela on the night of Shivratri consists of processions of sages decked up in ornaments and some seated on Elephants to the sound of rhythmic instruments such as tungis, conch shells, and turis. Scores of pilgrims, visitors, and tourists flock to watch the March as the size of the event is similar to the Kumbh Mela, except it takes place at night. The night’s highlight is the procession of the Nagas, where hundreds of naked Sadhus and Sadhvis march in the parades. Many show off feats of physical strength and endurance that seem supernatural even to the most sceptical observers. Towards the end of the processions is a holy bath of the sadhus in the Mrigi Kund within the compound of the temple.
Highlights of Junagadh Bhavnath Mela:
- The Nagas or the naked sadhus constitute a significant part of the Mela who display their skills of Hatha Yoga and many other occult practices.
- Before participating in the Mahapuja at the Bhavnath temple on Maha Shivratri’s night, the pilgrims perform a parikrama of the 7km long holy hills of the Girinar in the night.
- Organizers offer free meals to the visitors and pilgrims at various places around Girnar.
- Tourists and visitors can buy souvenirs at the fairground and pick items such as copperware, brassware, rosaries, utensils, clay idols, and more.
- The Mela is one of the oldest traditions in the region spanning more than 5000 years.
Legends surrounding the Bhavnath Shivratri
According to the local legends surrounding the event, the temple is visited by Lord Shiva on the night of Maha Shivratri, making it the most auspicious time for followers of Shiva. The Girnar mountain range at the foot of which the Bhavnath temple is located is the abode for the nine immortal saints (Nathas) and eighty-one Siddhas (masters who have attained perfection in the spiritual realm). It is believed that these perfected masters’ spirits also visit the temple on the night of Maha Shivratri.
How to get to the Bhavnath Mela
Since the Junagadh Shivratri Mela is held at the Bhavnath Temple in Girnar Taleti, the best way to get to it is through the city of Junagadh. Junagadh is only 8km away from Girnar, and you will have to pick a local ride to get to the temple from the city. Junagadh is connected to various cities across the state through both road and rail. The city’s railway station is only about 1km away from the city centre, from where you can pick local buses, cabs, or rickshaws to the venue. Since the city doesn’t have an airport of its own, those who wish to travel by air will have to travel to the nearest airport 40km away from Keshod Airport. From there it is possible to take a bus or book a cab to Junagadh. The next closest airport is 110km away from Rajkot. This is the easiest route for both national and international travellers to get to Junagadh. For those travelling to Junagadh Shivratri Mela by bus from other cities, here are the top routes to Junagadh:
- Rajkot to Junagadh
- Ahmedabad to Junagadh
- Jetpur to Junagadh
- Virpur to Junagadh
- Keshod to Junagadh
If you are travelling by bus from any other city to Junagadh, look up the details on the redBus website or mobile application to get the latest updates on bus routes and timings. With redBus, travel is made super easy as you can choose the best-rated operator and pick the most convenient boarding and de-boarding point.