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sonepur mela



Start Date: 20-11-2024 End Date:    05-12-2024


Sonepur , Patna, Bihar

Sonepur mela – The largest cattle fair of Asia

Sonepur mela – The largest cattle fair of Asia

Sonepur Mela is one of its kinds and famous for being the largest cattle fair of Asia. Also known as Harihar Kshetra Mela, this annually held grand show of cattle is the pride of north Bihar. The fair is held during the auspicious occasion of Kartik Poornima in the month of November annually. Not only cattle, but the fair is famous for selling breeds of dogs, elephants, birds and camels as major attractions of this vibrant ruler fair for a fortnight that stretches till a month too.

The fair is a wonderful display of spirituality and animal trading balancing both perfectly. Street magicians, religious gurus and tantric, pilgrims, snack stalls, handicrafts, amusement rides, circus performers, and dancing girls all create a carnival-like no other.

History of Sonepur mela
History of Sonepur mela

The fair dates back to the era of India’s first Maurya Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, who used to buy elephants and horses from here for his army. As per Hindu mythology, the fair also commemorates the intervention of Lord Vishnu to end a great curse and a long fight between Gaj (elephant) and Grah (crocodile) symbolizing the forest and the water respectively. It says that Lord Vishnu eventually saved the elephant after he was being attacked by the crocodile by bathing in the river Gandak, near which the fair takes place.

The only place of worship is the Hariharnath Temple that is swarmed by the devotees after the holy bath at the meeting point of Ganges and Gandak rivers. Mythologies say that the temple was built by Lord Rama while he was on the way to King Janak’s court to propose marriage to his daughter Sita.

What happens at Sonepur Mela?
What happens at Sonepur Mela?

Sonepur Mela is mainly dedicated as a trading ground for animals and cattle since ages, though there have been several changes in the passing years. Many farm animals can be bought and sold at the Sonepur mela including different breeds of dogs, cows, buffaloes, donkeys, ponies, Persian horses, rabbits, goats and camels. Many varieties of birds and poultry are also traded.

However, the main attraction of the fair was the Haathi Bazaar or the elephant market (till 2004) where elephants are lined up for sale. Owing to the strict enforcement of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, trade of elephant has been banned. Now-a-days, elephants are lined up only as attraction, and not for sale.

Though the fair is dedicatedly a trading space for cattle and animal, it is growing as a budding area for commercial hub in the recent years. The aim is to attract tourists from domestic as well as international backdrop and hence, Bihar Tourism took over its organization, including tourist accommodations, in 2012.

Since few years, there have been extra stalls for selling clothes, agricultural equipments, automobiles, gadgets, and fast-moving consumer goods. There are certain food plazas too selling known branded chains. The fair also witnesses sports competitions, martial arts and different types of cultural programs to pull bigger crowd.

Essence of the fair:

Though elephants are banned for trade, you can see, touch and feed these beautifully decorated animals. Besides, this vibrant fair dominates with different variety of birds, poultries, cattle, the stalls of which all smeared up in the colorful attires of a fancy handicraft store.

Apart from the animal buying-selling point, Sonepur Fair has a religious wing too. Thousands of Hindu devotees visit the fair to take a sacred dip at the confluence of river Ganges and its tributary river Gandak. The pilgrims believe that the sacred water of these rivers wash off their sins and purifies their inner selves.

Things to do and sights to watch
  • Among all the things that make the fair stand out, is the huge crowd taking holy bath at sunrise on Kartik Poornima (full moon), where the Ganges and Gandak meet, right at the crack of dawn.
  • One may take a boat ride down to the river up and down for few hours while you may treat your eyes with the mesmerizing sights of activities going on along the waterfront.
  • Elephants and other animals are given early morning bath in the river along with the devotees and that is a sight to behold.
  • A visit to the nearby Hariharnath Temple, devoted to Lord Vishnu, during the fair to watch different rituals and worship during the fair. Pilgrims flock at the temple in such huge crowds that it requires police barricades.
  • Shop from different stalls ranging in woolen outfits, handmade jewelry, local food and delicacies, wooden and brass utensils, and several other stuffs which you will not get in modern markets – all at cheap rates.
Security details:

Bihar has covered a long way up to improve its law and order, and is now in the world map as a fast developing tourist destination. During the Sonepur Mela, there is a heavy police presence and security guards as allotted by Bihar Tourism Tourist Village. Sonepur Mela is something that is unique, distinct and almost untouched since centuries to maintain its exclusivity. It is among those must-visit and must-experience carnivals that are going to leave the reminiscences fresh for long.

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