Sonepur Mela is back this year and the carnival promises to color you with its many shades. This colorful rural fair presents a unique amalgam of spirituality and cattle. The fair begins on the auspicious Hindu holy occasion of Kartik Purnima. During the fair, all the pilgrims take an early morning bath in the river every day, for a month. A number of rituals are carried on by the pilgrims and tantriks which are believed to ward off evil spirits.
The beauty and fun of this carnival is further enhanced by snack counters, handicraft stalls, amusement rides, street magicians, spiritual gurus and circus performances. There is so much more to this festival, which we bring to you with our segment below:
- Sonepur, Bihar (held on the bank of river Ganga)
- During Kartik Purnima (5 November – 4 December)
- Nearby Airport?
- Nearby Railway Station?
- Patna and Hajipur
History of Sonepur Mela
The Sonepur Fair holds great importance because of its connection with the ancient times. As per the history, Chandragupta Maurya used to buy elephants and horses across the river Ganges. This attracted traders from different parts of Asia. The cattle fair commemorates the glorious days of our country’s past. While the original site of the fair was Hajipur, it got shifted to Sonepur during the reign of the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb.
Today, people from all over the world visit the fair. Another importance, associated with this fair is the holy dip and Pooja, people take up at the Hariharnath Mahadeo Temple to ward off the evil spirits and gain a healthy life. The Hariharnath Mahadeo Temple holds much importance as it believed that the temple was originally built by Lord Rama while he was on his way to the court of King Janak to win the hand of his daughter Princess Sita.
Attractions of Sonepur Mela
Apart from the Pooja and other rituals which are performed in Hariharanath temple during the fair, there is a lot more what people get to enjoy on their visit to the fair. The Mela ground of Sonepur has a number of attractions to offer to all the visitors.
Variety of shops selling products such as jewellery, garments, furniture, toys, utensils, agricultural implements and handicrafts add to the fun and excitement of the carnival. All the products offered to the public come from different parts of the country. Further, there are different folk shows and games organized for entertaining the public. And this is not all! The fair promises to treat your taste buds with so many snack stalls offering lip-smacking dishes from different cuisines of the country.
The key attraction of the celebration is the numerous elephants which are beautifully decorated and are lined up for sale. This also explains the uniqueness of the fair as it is the only fair where such a large number of elephants are sold at once. People, from different fields like wildlife and lodging, visit here to purchase elephants for different operations. And it is not only the elephants; a large number of cattle are lined up during the fair for sale. Animals like dogs, camels, buffaloes, donkeys, ponies, monkeys, chimps, sheep, rabbits, bears, cats, and guinea pigs are sold during the festival. Different varieties of birds, poultry and fishes are also on sale.
[ Explore more attraction in Bihar ]
What not to miss?
- When at Sonepur Mela, you really can’t afford to miss the star attraction, the elephants. Elephants are beautifully decorated and lined up for display in rows. They are displayed for the public in the area called the Hathi Bazaar (Elephant Market). So, it is the time when you can go up to them and feed them.
- With the beginning of Kartik Purnima, a number of pilgrims perform different rituals with a river bath. Tantriks (Performers of black magic) carry out disturbing and unique rituals with beating of drums and chants which are believed to ward off the evil spirits. So, don’t miss having a glimpse of this diverse culture of India. If you miss this riverside ceremony, then you will seriously miss the heart of this festival.
Where to stay?
The Sonepur Cattle Fair is held in Sonepur which is located at a distance of 25 kms from Patna city. There are accommodation facilities provided by Bihar Tourism which include woven straw huts that come with attached western bathrooms. You can also stay in Patna and then travel to the fair. Patna has different accommodation options to offer, starting from guesthouses to hotels.
When is Best time to Visit?
If you wish to enjoy the fair to the fullest, it is best to visit in the first week of the festival. The most important activities of the festival including animal trading are organized during this week. Don’t miss sunrise bathing on the very first day of the festival.
How to Reach?
Sonepur is located at a distance of 25 kilometers from Patna, the capital city of Bihar. The place is easily accessible via road, rail and air.
Patna airport is the nearest airport. It is located at a distance of around 31 kms from Sonepur. From the airport, you can take a taxi to reach the destination.
For reaching Sonepur by rail, you can board a train to Patna or Hajipur station. Both the stations are connected to the major places of the country. From the railway station, you can take a bus/taxi/auto to reach Sonepur.
Sonepur is connected to major cities of the country via road.