About Sonepur Mela
The annual Sonepur Mela in Bihar is a vibrant rural fair that combines spirituality, sexuality, and animal trading. Street magicians, religious gurus and tantriks, pilgrims, snack stalls, handicrafts, amusement rides, circus performers, and dancing girls all create a carnival like no other. According to Hindu calendar month, It is organized every year in the month of Kartik (October-November) by the govt. of Bihar. This fair is also known as Harihar Kshetra Mela because it is celebrated in the remembrance of Baba Harihar Nath.
Sonepur comes under the Saran district which is located in the northern part of Indian state Bihar. The Sonepur Mela is one of the popular fair of Bihar. The Sonepur mela is held on the bank of River Ganga. This place is situated at a distance of approx. 25 km from the capital city Patna.
It is believed that this temple was built by Lord Rama, while going for the the Swayambar of Sita Mata (wife of lord Rama). People perform puja in this temple before going to Sonepur fair and take dip in river which is the meeting place of holy rivers Ganga and Gandak.
Sonepur Mela has its origins traced back to the times of Chandragupta Maurya, the first ruler of India. Historians believe that the emperor used this fair as an opportunity to make purchases of elephants and horses for his huge army. The cattle fair also beholds a mythological narration about its history. As per the legend, there were two brothers; both utmost devotees of Lord Vishnu, enchanted a magical spell on each other accidentally. As a result, one turned into an honest elephant, while the other a ferocious crocodile. Once during a full moon day, the elephant was enjoying a bath at this very confluence of rivers. Moments later, it was attacked by the crocodile. Sensing the trouble of the elephant, Lord Vishnu had to intervene to push the chariot of victory of the good over evil. Thus, in the present day, Sonepur Mela along with its cattle trading supremacy, holds a religious angle as well.
There are also many other historical events associated with Sonepur Mela like the first meeting of the “Indian Association of Cow Protection” held at this place in 1888. Different meetings during Sonepur Fair lead to the launch of the struggle movement against the British imperialism in Bihar.
One of the interesting histories associated with the fair is that the original site for this popular fair was Hajipur instead of Sonepur. Previously only the ceremony of puja used to be held at Harihar Nath temple of Sonepur but later the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb decided to shift the site of the fair to Sonepur.
These days, Sonepur fair also called Harihar Kshetra Mela is administered by District of Chapra with support from Bihar Govt. and promoted by the Tourism Ministry of Bihar. The administration also arranges health and welfare camps, sanitation, drinking water facilities for the visitors.
In ancient times, traders from as far as Central Asia used to come here for the trading of animals in Sonepur Cattle Fair. Even today it is the biggest cattle fair of Asia and goes on from fifteen days to one month.
Another key attraction of this fair is the sighting of numerous decorated elephants lined up for the purpose of sale in the place called Haazi Bazaar. A large number of Indian breed horses are also traded here. Enjoy performances of artists in Folk shows, games and stunt of jugglers Other interesting things are goods like handicrafts, local garments, toys, weapons, utensil, and agricultural tools, and local indian jewelry are available for sale through small stalls.
Sonepur fair is an ideal choice for traveler who wants to experience various aspects of rural India.
Sonepur Mela has an extensive range of decorated elephants, all lined up for sale as its star attraction. These giant yet gentle creatures are all made to settle in the Haathi Bazaar (elephant market), where tourists can touch and feed them while the auction is on. Besides, this vibrant fair dominates with different variety of birds, poultries, cattles, the stalls of which all smeared up in the colorful attires of a fancy handicraft store. Stalls at the Sonepur Mela get all loaded with items like agricultural implements, garments, perfumes, handicrafts, utensils in wood and brass.
The religious side of the Sonepur Mela brings thousands of Hindu pilgrims and devotees for the sacred dip at the confluence of river Ganga and river Gandak. It is believed that taking a dip here, particularly at the auspicious time of full moon purifies oneself from within his inner self.
How to reach there
Sonepur is easily accessible by Roadways and Railways. Moreover, it is only 25 kilometers from Bihar’s Capital Patna, which is well connected by Airways, Railways and Roadways to the other parts of the country. During the time of Fair, BSTDC also organizes Ferries from Patna to Sonpur. There are various taxi and car rental services that provide private transport to expats, tourists, with driver to Sonpur mela and back.
Fully furnished Swiss cottages in Sonepur fair along with western toilets are set up by Govt. of Bihar state tourism. Options of small hotels and lodges are also available in Sonepur.
You can also get details of the other fairs and festivals….Click on the link below