Location:- The town of Sonepur is situated at the congruence of the rivers Ganga and Gandak. This place is about 50 km east of Chhapra town (Saran district) and 30 kms from Patna (capital city of Bihar).
Every year of Karthik Purnima day, a cattle fair called the Harihar Kshetra Mela or more famously as the Sonepur Mela is held. It is an ancient fair that used to take place first at Hajipur but during the reign of Aurangzeb was moved to Sonepur
Legend:- According to legend, king Indrayamuna and the Gandharva chief Huhu were cursed by Sage Agastya and Dewala muni. They turned into a Gaj (elephant) and Grah (crocodile) respectively. One day the crocodile caught the elephants leg. The fight continued many years and they came to this place. Finally, the elephant took some water from a nearby river and prayed to Harihar – Hari (Vishnu) and Har (Shiva). It was here that Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva are said to have resolved their fight. As the chakra of Vishnu touched the animals, they came back into their earlier form and were freed from the curse. This is why the place is known a s Gajagraha Moksha.
- This fair the biggest cattle fair in Asia and is the center of attraction for domestic and foreign visitors for several years. The fair sells – horses, cows, buffaloes, oxen, goats, dogs, cats & birds for sale. In recent years wildlife laws have curbed the trade of animals and birds.
- Coincidentally, the harvest season also falls during this time period. Hence one may find grain sellers at the fair too.
- It can last from 15 days to a month. This fair combines trade and spirituality. Devotees first take a dip in the river and then continue with the carnival. There are stalls for food, artifacts, clothing, agricultural tools even household wares at the fair. To keep families and children happy there are various rides, games and even magic shows.
- It is said that this fair existed during the times of ChandraGupta Maurya and that the king often traded his elephants here. Like the Pushkar Mela (Rajasthan) is famous for its camels, the Sonepur Mela is famous for elephants.
Things to Do:-
- Take a dip in the holy congruence of rivers early in the morning. It is a spirituality uplifting ritual. One can also see many rishis, tantriks or yogis performing their morning Puja at the banks of the river.
- For a nominal fee, one can take a boat ride through the rivers.
- Touch and feed the elephants.
- Watch the road shows and theater performances.
- Visit the Vishnu temple in the vicinity.
Accommodation:- Bihar tourism has taken over looking after tourists for this fair. Reservations can be made at email@example.com, or phone (0612) 2225411 and 2506219.
How to Reach:-
By Air: Nearest airport is at Patna Airport which is well connected from other Indian cities.
By Road:- One can take a bus or taxi from Patna to Sonepur
By Train:- The nearest train station is Sonepur Junction. Other rail heads are Patna and Hajipur.
By Waterways:-Sometimes Bihar State transport – BSTDC organizes River Cruises from Patna to Sonepur.
Location: Sonepur, Bihar 841101, India