Gangasagar mela– brave the icy cold weather with a holy dip
Heard about Kumbh Mela, the biggest fair celebration in India? Gangasagar Mela is just next to it. Celebrated during mid-January amidst icy cold weather, Gangasagar Mela attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over the world.
The globally acclaimed spiritual and cultural event of the nation takes place every year in the month of January when thousands of pilgrims from all over the worldcome down to seek righteousness at Sagar Island’s southern tip in West Bengal.
What happens at the Gangasagar mela?
The grand celebration of Gangasagar Mela happens every year during Makar Sankranti when the pilgrims take dip into the holy water of Ganga at dawn to worship Lord Surya (the Sun). The grand carnival takes place at the Sagar’s Island Kakdwip situated on the end of the Ganges delta at Bay of Bengal.
The ceremonial celebrations take place with great solemnity, majorly by the Hindus. The purpose of the holy dip is to purify the soul and to wash away the sins. Mythologies and epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata have mention of the fair and festival and its importance.
The essence of the celebration
It takes a lot of dedication and devotion to take a dip into the chilly water of the Ganges before daybreak. It appraises the commitment of the devotees who don’t hesitate to brave the windy and frosty winter. The celebration continues for 3 consecutive days when devotees and Naga Sadhus (sect) gather to offer their prayers.
Things to do and sights to watch:
- Thousands of devotees with their hands folded in prayers and standing in ice cold water on a freezing morning is a sight which is anything but common.
- Naga Sadhus performing rituals and yoga shows their flexible and fit bodies that are smeared in white paint and ash.
- Once in Gangasagar, don’t miss to visit the Sagar Lighthouse which works as a vantage point for observers and visitors who wish to get a full view of the beautiful sea and silvery beaches.
- Visit the nearby Kapil Muni Temple which was built in 1973. There have been three previous temples at the same spot which were all washed away by the sea and storm. Pilgrims swarm towards the Kapil Muni Temple after the holy dip. It is jam-packed but a new experience and must visit hence.
- The delicacies of the occasion include sweets made of date jaggery, known as Nolen Gur in local language. It is one of the vital ingredients used in all sweets and desserts prepared during this time. Some of the most popular dishes you must try are Pithe, Patishapta, DudhPuli, and Nolen Gurer Shondesh.
- Gangasagar Mela is a photographer’s paradise. They get a number of themes to click – devotees, Naga Sadhus, the holy dip and of course the mesmerizing winter sunrise.
How to reach sagardwip for Gangasagar mela:
To attend Gangasagar Mela, you need to reach Sagardwip first which is located at just 124 km away from Kolkata. These are some of the convenient journeys to Sagardwip:Railways
- Reach Howrah station which is very well connected from various parts of the country.
- There is a State Transport Corporations or even private transport operators to take you to the destination if you reach Howrah station or Outramghat, or Esplanade in Kolkata.
- There is also EMU train services which can be boarded at Sealdah southern section which will take you till Kakdwip. Once you reach Kakdwip, any local auto rickshaws will take you to the destination.
- You can also consider taking jetties from Namkhana railway station
- Mumbai to Kolkata- via NH 53
- Delhi to Kolkata- via NH 19
- Chennai to Kolkata – via NH 16
- Arrive at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Dumdum, Kolkata. Then head towards Kakdwip by road.
- There are helicopter services available every Sunday offered by the West Bengal Government that drops you at Gangasagar.
- Security arrangements are specially taken care of by the State Government as well as the Indian Coast Guard (ICG).
- Twenty drones and 800 CCTV cameras are deployed to keep a tab on the devotees while the ICG has placed hovercraft, high-speed patrol vessels and interceptor boats along the coastline.
- A lifesaving rapid action teams comprising of rubber Gemini boats with divers are deployed during the mela to thwart off any threat of drowning to the devotees.
- There are several LED screens placed at different points in the entire area to update the pilgrims and tourists about the timings and tariff of trains, buses and ferries. It is also used to notify tide timings and for safety precautions.
GangasagarMela is a grand celebration of religion and spiritualism. It takes a lot of devotion to perform the rituals during the celebration. The mere sight of the entire arrangement often makes you feel delighted and enlightened with spiritualism. GangasagarMela is highly recommended at least once in your lifetime.