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| Last Updated:: 17/08/2017

Ganga Sagar









A stunning island just off the Bengal coast, Ganga Sagar is a place of great beauty and religious importance. Home to some spell binding beaches, it is famous for hosting the Sagar Mela which sees millions of devotees flock to its beaches every year. 




This island, also known as Sagardwip, is a place of Hindu pilgrimage. Every year on the day of Makar Sankranti, hundreds of thousands of Hindus gather to take a holy dip at the confluence of river Ganges and Bay of Bengal and offer prayers (puja) in the Kapil Muni Temple. 




According to legend, a holy man, Kardam Muni, made a pact with Vishnu that he would undergo the rigours of marital life, on the condition that Vishnu would incarnate as his son. In due time Kapil Muni was born as an incarnation of Vishnu and became a great saint. Kapil Muni’s ashram was located on the island. One day King Sagar's sacrificial horse disappeared; it had been stolen by Indra. The king sent his 60,000 sons to find it, and they found it next to Kapil Muni's ashram, where Indra had hidden it. Mistaking Kapil Muni for the thief, the sons accused Kapil Muni, who in his wrath at the false accusation burned the sons to ash and sent their souls to Hell. Later having compassion for the King Sagar's sons, Kapil Muni acceded to the prayers of King Sagar's descendants, agreeing to the restoration of the sons, if Parvati in the form of the river goddess Ganga would descend to Earth to perform the Last Ritual (Hindus also called as"Tarpan") of mixing the ashes with holy water (niravapanjali). 




Through deep meditation, King Bhagiratha induced Shiva to order Ganga down from heaven and the 60,000 sons were freed (moksha) and ascended to Heaven, but the river Ganges stayed on the Earth. The date of the descent of Ganga was the date which coincides with that of Makar Sankranti (When Surya enters Makar Constellation) I.e. "Uttarayan" of Hindu Panchang. Every year on the day of Makar Sankranti (14 January), hundreds of thousands of Hindus gather to take a holy dip at the confluence of river Ganges and Bay of Bengal and offer prayers (puja) in the Kapil Muni Temple.




There is a popular religious saying that “other pilgrimages can be taken again and again, but the holy dip in Gangasagar can cleanse souls in one journey”. With that belief, and an earnestness to seek Moksha every year lakhs of devotees make their way to the southern tip of Sagar Islands. 




The Gangasagar pilgrimage and fair is the second largest congregation of mankind after the triennial ritual bathing of Kumbha Mela. 





Kapil Muni Temple 





The existing temple was built in 1973, but the original temple dated back to 1437. Three older dated temples were washed away by storms and sea. This temple is held very sacred by the pilgrims, for they visit the temple immediately after the Gangasagar Snan. Kapil Muni is represented by a block of stone in the temple and worshipped. The temple contains emblems of the Sea, Ganga Devi and Bhagiratha.