Among the many festivals that India celebrates in the month of January, Gangasagar Mela held in Kardwip in Bengal holds a special place. It is celebrated during January 13 – 15, and annually attracts thousands of pilgrims from all around the world. It is quite a spectacle; to see people go about with so much devotion in their hearts. The scene here is click-worthy, so if you’re a traveller with a camera, this is where you can put it to good use.
Gangasagar Mela, also known as Ganga Sagar Yatra or Ganga Snan, takes place during Makar Sankranti. This year too it begins a day before Makar Sankranti. It is believed that taking a dip here will absolve the pilgrim of all his sins. Hence, you’ll see thousands of pilgrims taking a dip in the holy water of Ganga in the morning while worshiping Lord Surya.
The importance of taking a dip in Gangasagar goes back to the time of Mahabharata. Legend has it that the significance of taking a bath at Sagar was explained to Bhisma by a learned sage. The virtue of purification of soul and evil deeds has appealed to every Hindu, and therefore has been practiced for time immemorial. Interestingly, Gangasagar Mela is regarded as the second largest fair in India (Kumbha Mela is said to hold the highest number of pilgrims in India).
The nearest airport from here is the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata. You can then hire a car to Kardwip which is approximately 124km away. What’s more is that there are helicopter services operated every Sunday by the West Bengal Government to reach Gangasagar as well.
You can club your visit here with other attractions nearby such as the Kapil Muni Temple at Sagardwip; known for the prayers and puja that’s conducted here with utmost devotion. Apart from that, you can visit the fair-ground, sea beaches, Sagar Marine Park, the Sagar Lighthouse and Port, Ramakrishna Mission Ashram, Sushama Devi Chowdhurani Marine Biological Research Institute (SDMBRI), and Chimaguri Mudflat.