Most Famous Hindu Pilgrimage Island
Gangasagar is a charming tourist destination, which attracts both pilgrims and adventure lovers. Located on an island in the Sunderbans, Gangasagar offers the charms of an un-spoilt beach on the estuary of the river Ganges. Gangasagar offers acres of silver sand and clear blue sky, and the calm sea for visitors who would like to spend their weekend in tranquillity.
Also known as Sagardwip, Gangasagar is still unexplored and therefore unexploited. The island of Gangasagar is one of the most famous Hindu pilgrimage centres in India. Every year on Makar Sankranti (mid-January), pilgrims from all over India, gather at Gangasagar for a holy dip at the confluence of the river Ganga and the Bay of Bengal. After the holy dip, the pilgrims offer ‘Puja' at the Kapil Muni Temple or Ashram. On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, Gangasagar Mela is organized in this island, which is one of the biggest fairs in West Bengal. Gangasagar finds mention in many tales of Hindu mythology and in ancient Indian literature like the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, a novel of Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay and a poem of Rabindranath Tagore.
The lighthouse at Gangasagar offers a panoramic view of this spectacular beach, from where you can enjoy sunrise and sunset. During sunset, the sky turns golden with a patch of red on the horizon and the silver sand reflects the last rays of the sun. Photography is not restricted on this island.
Gangasagar is 135 km away from Kolkata. However, the place is not directly linked with Kolkata, a break journey is necessary to reach. Board a Kakdwip-bound bus from Esplanade to Harwood Point, a three hour ride. Cross the river Muriganga by boat and reach Kachuberia. From Kachuberia, a bus will take you to Gangasagar (30kms) within an hour. Minibus and hired cars are available for the journey. It would take five hours to reach the island from Kolkata. As an alternative you can take a bus to Namkhana from Kolkata to Namkhana (105) kms. From Namkhana you can reach Chemaguri across the river Muriganga by launch and from Chamaguri to Gangasagar by bus (10kms.) Boats from Harwood Point and Kachuberia are available every hour. Best time to visit is the middle of January.
Gangasagar pilgrimage and fair is the second largest congregation of mankind after the holy Kumbha Mela. The latter is observed once in four years at alternate locations in north, central and central-west parts of the country, Gangasagar fair and pilgrimage is held annually on the Sagar Island’s southern tip in the Ganges delta atop the Bay of Bengal. That makes Gangasagar all the more distinctive.
In 2007, about 300,000 pilgrims took the holy dip where the Hooghly meets the Bay of Bengal on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. The figure was lower by around 200,000 because of Kumbh Mela. For the rest of the year about 500,000 people come to the island.