Two and half hours or 100 kms from Kolkata is the biggest Island in the Ganges Delta, in the lap of Bay of Bengal is Sagardwip or Gangasagar, where the River Ganga meets the "Sagar" or Ocean!
Part of Sundarbans, the Island does not have any tiger habitation or mangrove forests or small river tributaries as is characteristic of the overall Sundarban delta. Kolkata Port Trust has a pilot station and a light house here!
This island is a place of Hindu pilgrimage.
Celebrated every year on the 14th of January, is Makar Sankranti, the end of winter and beginning of harvest season! Dedicated to the Sun god, it's a specific solar day in the Hindu calendar. On this auspicious day the sun enters the zodiac sign Capricorn or Makar!!
It is believed that on Makar Sankranti when the sun makes a transition from Capricorn to Sagittarius, a holy bath here proves to be a source of salvation.
Ganga regarded as the holiest river in Hindu mythology, originates in the Himalayas, ahead of Gangotri and marks the end of her journey in Sagardwip where she merges with the Bay of Bengal!
Hundreds of thousands of Hindus gather to take a holy dip at the confluence and head to the Kapil Muni Temple to offer prayers and puja.
This temple has a rather interesting story. King Sagar of Mahabharat fame, performed an Ashwamedha yajna to win control over the entire universe. Just when his horse was about to win over the Earth, Lord Indra got alarmed and managed to steal the blessed horse only to tie him at Kapil Muni's ashram. King Sagar's 60,000 sons presumed the Muni to be the culprit and made the mistake of disturbing him when he was immersed in deep meditation. This angered the Sage, and when he opened his eyes the sons of Sagar turned to ashes! Bhagirathi, King Sagar's only grandson meditated for years to convince Lord Shiva, to absolve them of this curse, Lord Shiva asked him to pray to goddess Ganga to come to earth to wash the mortal remains of his ancestors and bless them with salvation!
Goddess Ganga did descend to earth and King Sagar's sons were freed from the curse and ascended to heaven, but Ganga stayed back on earth and here she flows for all mankind to take a dip in her and attain "Moksha"! (Salvation).
The fair is attended by people from various cultures and all walks of life which makes it a brilliant event to witness cross-cultural exchange in a vibrant environment.
The Ganga Sagar Fair and pilgrimage is the second most attended fair in the world, after the popular Kumbh Mela!
It was a lovely day trip that my family and I were fortunate to have made when we visited Kolkata.
There is a popular saying in Hindi " सारे तीर्थ बार बार, गंगासागर एक बार"!
To reach Sagar Island from Kolkata ~ drive towards Diamond Harbor and continue to Kakdwip ~ Boarding Point - Lot no 8 Harwood Point Kakdwip to Embark on the Ferry after buying a ticket, nominally priced.
3.5 kms Ferry crossings take place only at high tides across the Muri Ganga River or Hoogly River to Kachuberia Ghat/ Jetty.
Kachuberia Ghat alighting point. Then 30 kms drive to Gangasagar.
Better to check timings, of Ferry or you will be just hanging around, and it's a waste of time.
A road from the beach goes straight to the Kapil Muni Temple.
Rickshaws, buses and Taxis are available to take you to Gangasagar.
We had carried packed lunch, but you can try to get a bite in one of the small eateries!