Gangasagar Mela or Gangasagar Fair is the second biggest congregation of Hindu pilgrims after the Kumbha Mela.
The Gangasagar Mela is observed annually and only on Sagardwip (Sagar Island). Every year during Makar Sankranti pilgrims from all over the country come to take a holy dip at the confluence of the river Ganges and Bay of Bengal, followed by offering prayers at the Kapil Muni Temple. This temple is immersed in legendary tales and is highly revered among devotees.
Gangasagar or Sagar Island is an island in the Ganges delta, lying on the continental shelf of Bay of Bengal about 100 kms (54 nautical miles) south of Kolkata. The island is large with an area of 224.3 kms.
Gangasagar is a charming tourist destination, which attracts both pilgrims and adventure lovers. Located on an island in the Sundarbans, Gangasagar offers the charms of an un-spoilt beach on the estuary of the river Ganges. Gangasagar offers acres of silver sand and clear blue sky, and the calm sea for visitors who would like to spend their weekend in tranquility.
Gangasagar has acres of dazzling silver sand and clear blue sky, Gangasagar is still relatively unknown and thus, unexploited. The island of Gangasagar is among the most popular Hindu pilgrimage places in the country. Each year on Makar Sankranti (mid-January), large number of devotees from all over the nation, congregate at Gangasagar for a sacred dip at the convergence of the river Ganga and the Bay of Bengal. After the sacred dip, the pilgrims offer ‘Puja’ at the Kapil Muni Temple or Ashram.
In several Hindu myths, the name Gangasagar is mentioned, Gangasagar also finds itself in the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore. The lighthouse at Gangasagar has great views of this beach and is perfect for watching the sunrise and sunset.
HOW TO REACH
By Air: Nearest airport to Gangasagar is the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport which is situated in Kolkata. It is well linked with several cities.
By Train: Trains run on the Sealdah South lines from Kolkata through Kakdwip to Namkhana where at Bakkhali, there is a ferry across the Muriganga distributary (Channel Creek) to Sagar Island (Gangasagar).
By Road: Buses ply from Esplanade (Kolkata) to Harwood Point. After crossing the river Muriganga at Harwood point by boat, one can reach Kachuberia. From Kachuberia, a bus service is there that takes tourists to Gangasagar.
Kapil Muni Temple
Kapil Muni Temple is situated at Ganaga Sagar. It is believed that the deity was setup in 1437 by Swami Ramanand. The structure is a stone block, considered to be the representation of Sage Kapil. The idol of the saint holds a small pot of water in his left hand and a rosary in the right. Images of Bhagirath, Ram and Sita can also be seen here. The annual Ganga Sagar Mela is celebrated on Makar Sankranti Day here. Pilgrims take a holy dip in the Ganges, before going to the temple. Sagar Island is 130 km from Kolkata. The great sage, Kapil Muni referred to in the legend is represented by a block of stone which is anointed and worshipped. The original site of the temple has been washed away by the sea. But an attractive new temple has replaced the previous temple. There are the emblems of the Sea, Ganga Devi and Bhagiratha besides that of Kapil Muni.