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Gangasagar Mela



Ganga Sagar Mela, 2015, Makar Sankranti



Ganga Sagar:



Sagar Island is an island in the Ganges delta, lying on the continental shelf of Bay of Bengal about 135 km south of Kolkata. It belongs to the Republic of India and is governed by the State government of West Bengal. The island is large - with an area of 224.3 km², lying between 21°36’ to 21°56’ north latitude and 88°2’ to 88° 11’ east latitude. It has 43 villages and a population of over 160,000. The largest village is also named "Ganga Sagar" or "Gangasagar". Although Sagar island is a part of Sunderban Administration, it does not have any tiger habitation or mangrove forests or small river tributaries as is characteristic of the overall sunderban delta. Gangasagar is a charming tourist destination, which attracts both pilgrims and adventure lovers. Gangasagar offers the charms of an un-spoilt beach on the estuary of the river Ganges. The place also offers acres of silver sand and clear blue sky, and the calm sea for visitors who would like to spend their weekend in tranquillity.



Gangasagar Mela 2015, MakarsankrantiGangasagar Mela 2015, Makarsankranti




Gangasagar Mela 2015, Makarsankranti




Gangasagar Mela 2015, MakarsankrantiGangasagar Mela 2015, Makarsankranti





Gangasagar Mela 2015, MakarsankrantiGangasagar Mela 2015, Makarsankranti




Gangasagar Mela 2015, Makarsankranti












The island of Gangasagar is one of the most famous Hindu pilgrimage centres in India. Every year on Makar Sankranti (mid-January - usually falls on 14 or 15th January), pilgrims from all over India, gather at Gangasagar for a holy dip at the confluence of the river Ganga and the Bay of Bengal.  After the holy dip, the pilgrims offer ‘Puja' at the Kapil Muni Temple or Ashram. On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, Gangasagar Mela is organized in this island, which is one of the biggest fairs in West Bengal. Gangasagar pilgrimage and fair is the second largest congregation of mankind after the holy Kumbha Mela. The latter is observed once in four years at alternate locations in north, central and central-west parts of the country. Gangasagar finds mention in many tales of Hindu mythology and in ancient Indian literature like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, a novel of Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay and a poem of Rabindranath Tagore.




The lighthouse at Gangasagar offers a panoramic view of this spectacular beach, from where you can enjoy sunrise and sunset. During sunset, the sky turns golden with a patch of red on the horizon and the silver sand reflects the last rays of the sun. Photography is not restricted on this island.




Reach Ganga Sagar: 



Gangasagar is 135 km away from Kolkata. However, the place is not directly linked with Kolkata, a break journey is necessary to reach. Board a Kakdwip-bound bus from Esplanade to Harwood Point, a three hour ride. Cross the river Muriganga by boat and reach Kachuberia. From Kachuberia, a bus will take you to Gangasagar (30kms) within an hour. Minibus and hired cars are available for the journey. It would take five hours to reach the island from Kolkata. As an alternative you can take a train to Namkhana from Sealdah Station (105) kms. From Namkhana you can reach Chemaguri across the river Muriganga by launch and from Chamaguri to Gangasagar by bus (10kms.) Boats from Harwood Point and Kachuberia are available every hour. 




Ganga Sagar Mela, 2015, Makar Sankranti





History:



A holy man, Kardam Muni, made a pact with Vishnu that he would undergo the rigours of marital life, on the condition that Vishnu would incarnate as his son. In due time Kapil Muni was born as an incarnation of Vishnu and became a great saint. Kapil Muni’s ashram was located on the island. One day King Sagar's sacrificial horse disappeared; it had been stolen by Indra.





The king sent his 60,000 sons to find it, and they found it next to Kapil Muni's ashram, where Indra had hidden it. Mistaking Kapil Muni for the thief, the sons accused Kapil Muni, who in his wrath at the false accusation burned the sons to ash and sent their souls to Hell. Later having compassion for the King Sagar's sons, Kapil Muni acceded to the prayers of King Sagar's descendants, agreeing to the restoration of the sons, if Parvati in the form of the river goddess Ganga would descend to Earth to perform the burial ritual of mixing the ashes with holy water (niravapanjali).





Through deep meditation, King Bhagiratha induced Shiva to order Ganga down from heaven and the 60,000 sons were freed (moksha) and ascended to Heaven, but the river Ganges stayed on the Earth. The date of the descent of Ganga was 14 January which coincides with Makar Sankranti.











Text: WikiPedia, West Bengal Tourism, South 24 Parganas

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