Gangasagar – A Quick Getaway from Kolkata

Glimpses from Gangasagar

Gangasagar or Sagardwip is an island in the Ganges delta, at the confluence of the river into the Bay of Bengal. Gangasagar is considered holy by the Hindu community and a crowd of hundreds of thousands congregates during the Gangasagar Mela which is around 14th January i.e. the Hindu festival of Makar Sankranti. Although known for religious reasons, I had a recent opportunity of witnessing the scenic charm of the place. Presenting glimpses from Gangasagar, based upon my experience!

Day One

The Journey

A group of 4 families, which consisted of the four of us schoolmates and our parents. We boarded a train to Kakdwip from Jadavpur Railway Station, which lies on the railway network that connects Kolkata, the suburbs and the district of South 24 Parganas in West Bengal. Anyway, we boarded Namkhana Local train which starts from Sealdah Railway Station at around 5:15. From the Kakdwip railway station, trolley rickshaws or motor vehicles took us to Kachuberia.

The journey through the rural areas gave us plenty to see!
The journey through the rural areas offered us plenty to see!
Fishermen laying out nets.
Fishermen laying out nets.
Fishermen at early dawn
Fishermen at early dawn
Life and livelihood.
Life and livelihood.

We boarded the vessel from Kachuberia to the other side of the river. The early morning river breeze was a welcome to the senses that were getting miffed by the city smog! And did I mention the migratory birds that came in numbers? Boatmen and fishermen were engaged in their activities. I could see why the inception of life was water.

Migratory birds!
Migratory birds!

After helping ourselves to some refreshments there, we moved on to the bus stand where we had the option of boarding a bus or car.

Lodging up

Several lodging options at nominal rates are available in the area around Kapil Muni’s Temple, which is the hotspot of the Gangasagar. We found some comfortable rooms at one which was not far away from the beach. We also saw different makeshift arrangement of lodging, sanitary and other facilities being put up before the hoopla of the Gangasagar Mela kicked in. During the days of the Mela, the place can be imagined to succumb to the chaotic religious congress, comprising of pilgrims, sadhus and devotees- an event which enthusiastic shutterbugs as well as professional photographers mark on their calendar. If you’re looking to travel here in the time of the Mela, be sure to make your bookings as early as possible. Also, be prepared for as large crowds as you can imagine in India!

After lodging up, we got down for some casual game of football (travelling exhaustion is no excuse for a game of football!). After washing up and having a satisfactory lunch at the hotel, we decided to walk to the beach.

The Beach

It had been a long time since my feet felt the familiar touch of sand on the beach. The breeze was soothing, and the sun which was now getting done for the day, illuminated the sky and water in shades of gold. The white sands were covered in golden hues, and view was exhilarating.

Walking on the beach.
Walking on the beach.
Gold, eh?
Looking for gold, eh?

Meanwhile, bamboos were being transported in this fashion. When the tide would rise, it would take the bamboo along closer to the shore. Quite clever, huh?

Sunset at Gangasagar
Sunset at Gangasagar

After strolling for sometime on the beach, we went towards the famous temple of Kapil Muni. The path was lined up with shops selling items ranging from souvenirs to cafes.

Decorative sea shells on display at a shop.
Decorative sea shells on display at a shop.

The temple for which Gangasagar is held so sacred held a prominence. Devotees offered prayers, coconuts were being smashed for fulfillment of mannat (wish)- Kapil Muni’s temple had the typical aura of Hinduism- incense, coconuts, flowers, ashes, sweets- all merging in the familiar smell of religion.

Kapil Muni's temple
Kapil Muni’s temple
Breaking coconuts for fulfillment of mannat (wish).
Breaking coconuts for fulfillment of mannat (wish).

The area around the temple is a hub of activities. At one end sat two sadhus- one of them being ‘Aghori’- whose blessings were being sought after.

Ash smeared Aghori Sadhu
Ash smeared Aghori Sadhu
A sadhu at Gangasagar
A sadhu at Gangasagar

As we walked towards the hotel, the aroma of fries proved inescapable and we succumbed to some tasty snack of onion and brinjal fries. But the treat was far from over…

Blood moon
A surprising blood moon!

By the time I was in our room, I was dead tired, and quite unexpectedly slept away, missing out the fun of sharing a room with the three old friends. Sigh!

PS: Find the next chapter here

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