Gangasagar: On the edge of the Sunderbans

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As you travel southward from the bustling city of Kolkata, further down the South 24 Parganas, you would reach the largest delta zone, where the Ganges meet the Bay of Bengal. Nestled in one of these delta islands is Gangasagar.

Also called Sagardwip or Sagar Island, it is one of the largest islands on the Ganges delta and holds immense religious significance. The blend of blue bay waters and green marshlands, Sagar Island contributes to the natural beauty of the region.

Photo of Gangasagar: On the edge of the Sunderbans 1/2 by Savaari
Image source: Wikipedia

Though a part of the Sunderbans, this delta settlement is unique in its natural features and does not have the wildlife or mangrove vegetation like rest of Sundarbans. Hence this island also serves as a vacation haven for the urbanites from Kolkata and its neighboring towns. Spreading across 224 sq. km. of land area, Gangasagar is known for the golden sands, warm beaches, and a rich religious heritage. There is also a lighthouse off the beach which is a highlight structure of the beach.

A stunning natural location, this island marks the confluence of the holy Ganges and the sea which has led to pilgrimage from far and wide over generations.

How to reach Sagar Island

Though an island, Gangasagar is well connected to Kolkata city and other major towns in West Bengal. The shortest and fastest route from Kolkata to Gangasagar is by the Diamond Harbor Road from Kolkata. There are outstation buses available. But you can also rent a car to reach comfortably. It is about 90 KM from the city center till the ferry dock at Kakdwip. From there you would need to take a ferry ride to reach Sagar Island.

Gangasagar Mela

Every year, in the month of January, Sagar Island sees thousands of tourists, travelers, explorers, and pilgrims throng to this holy place, each with a reason of their own. This is the time when the festival of Makarsankranti is celebrated to bring in the season of new harvest. Religiously, this occasion signifies worshipping the sun god and welcoming the new season with devotion. Needless to say, that the Ganges is considered to be the most sacred rivers for the Hindus. And as a Hindu ritual, a dip in the Ganges marks an auspicious beginning for anything.

The Gangasagar Mela (fair) sees devotees and pilgrims who come here every Makarsankranti to take a dip in the holy waters of the Ganges. It is said, that after Kumbh Mela, the Gangasagar Mela is the second largest religious festival celebrated in the world and one of the prominent festivals of West Bengal. If you’re planning on taking a cab to Gangasagar during this time, we recommend you look up the taxi fare in Kolkata before reaching the island.

The beauty of this meal is that attracts people from all over, irrespective of their religion, caste, and creed. And, hence, this fair become a massive congregation of cultures. If you as simply as take a walk down the banks of the Ganges, you will be enthralled by the lights, sounds of chanting, which render a hallowed ambiance overall. Usually, after a dip, the devotees head to the Kapil Muni Temple to pay obeisance to this legendary saint.

Photo of Gangasagar: On the edge of the Sunderbans 2/2 by Savaari
Image source: Wikipedia

There is also the Bharat Seva Ashram and the Onkarnath Temple for pilgrims to visit.

For the rest of the year, when it’s not the time for pilgrims to flock to Gangasagar, this island assumes a complete opposite form. The beaches are serene and the only sounds you can hear is of the rustling tropical trees and the gushing waves lapping the golden sands.

If you want to just take a break for the rigmarole of your city life, a quick drive away to the Sagar Island can indeed be rejuvenating. And it’s not a common thing to see the mighty river of the nation meeting yet another mighty ocean.

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