Grand Bassin (Ganga Talao) Overview
One of the most sacred place for Hindu’s is considered to be Grand Bassin or Ganga Talao.

Highlights: One of the famous temple of Lord Shiva is located some 1800 feet above the sea level. Not just Lord Shiva, you will also find temples of Hanuman and Lakshmi. You will be completely sold by the calm and peaceful nature of the place which makes it worth visit while in Mauritius.

Best time to visit
: Maha Shivratri becomes the best time to visit Grand Bassin since it attracts a large number of followers. However, visiting this place during February and early March are considered to be ideal time to visit this place.

Location: It is approximately 38 km from Port Louis.

Alternatively known as Ganga Talao, Grand Bassin is a crater lake located in the heart of Mauritius. Nestled amidst a splendid scenic surrounding, the wide lake is considered to be sacred by the Hindus residing on the island. The title of ‘Ganga Talao’ literally translates to the “lake of the Ganges”, as the water of the lake is said to have been brought over from the Indian river of Ganges.

The lake premises has a number of statues of various Hindu and non-Hindu deities. The most prominent of these are the massive statues of Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga, each towering at a height of 33 meters. Apart from these, there are numerous other smaller statues, such as those of Lord Hanuman, Lord Ganesha, Goddess Parvati and Lord Buddha. There are also a number of temples on the banks of the lake. Among these, the most prominent temple is the Lingam Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.

The Lingam temple in Ganga Talao is one of the most sacred temples in Ganga Talao, and attracts a large number of pilgrims every year. Apart from this, one may also find smaller temples dedicated to Lord Ganesha, Hanuman and also a Sikh Temple. Grand Bassin is especially known for its massive Maha Shivratri celebrations. The celebrations continue for three whole days and attracts thousands of Hindu pilgrims from across the world. Grand Bassin is the biggest Hindu pilgrimage site located outside India.

How To Reach

By Car:
The fastest way to travel from Mauritius Airport to Grand Bassin is to drive from the Airport, or to take a cab. The drive takes approximately 23 minutes.

By Bus: Alternatively, one can take a bus from the Airport to Souillac and then take a cab to Grand Bassin from here. This is the cheapest way to come to Grand Bassin from the airport, and takes around one hour.

Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit the Grand Bassin Lake would be between the months of May and December. During this time, the temperature here remains moderate. The weather remains calm and pleasant, and showers are rare. The best time of the day to visit the lake would be in the early hours of the morning, before the crowds start settling in.

If you wish only to enjoy the natural setting and not visit the temples adjacent to the lake, it is best to visit the temple during the morning or the afternoon, for the lakeside may get chilly towards the evening.

Other Essential Information

Savanne District, Mauritius.

Timings: The lake is open for public visit at all times of the day. However, the Ganga Talao temple remains open between 05.00AM-12PM and 01.00PM-06.00PM.

Height from sea level: 550 meters above sea level

Best Time: The best time to visit Ganga Talao in Mauritius is between the months of May and December. During this time, the weather remains dry and sunny. Temperature remains moderate, allowing one to enjoy the open lakeside.

Distance from Mauritius city centre: Grand Bassin is located approximately 35 kilometers away from Mauritius City Centre. It takes approximately 45 minutes to drive between the two places.

History of Grand Bassin

Grand Bassin Lake was discovered by the Hindu priest Pandit Jhummon Giri Gossagne Nepal, who lived in the northern part of the island of Triolet, in 1897. The priest had a prophetic dream which told him about a sacred lake that was connected to the Indian Ganges. The priest scoured the country in search of the lake and finally identified Grand Bassin to be the lake from his dreams. News of the holy lake soon spread, and pilgrims from across the world started arriving at Grand Bassin to visit the site. Much later, in the year 1972, a Hindu priest from India brought holy water from the Ganges and poured it into the Grand Bassin Lake. From there on, the lake derived its nickname of Ganga Talao.

The religious history of the place however, cannot be fully grasped without taking a closer look into the socio-cultural background of Mauritius. During the colonial era, several underpaid Indian labourers were brought to Mauritius by the British colonial masters with the promise of a better quality of life. However, these same illusioned labourers found themselves inhabiting an island with harsh, unsustainable living conditions, and had to work twice as hard to eke out a bare minimum living. Under such circumstances, the workers turned to spiritualism and worship, and Ganga Talao became the center of their religious beliefs.

Cultural Importance of Grand Bassin

The Grand Bassin lake is considered to be sacred in the Hindu faith. According to popular belief, the water in the lake is said to have originated from the Indian river of Ganga. Moreover, adjacent to the lake stands erected a 33 meter tall statue of Lord Shiva. Grand Bassin is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Hindus from across the world. In fact, it is the largest Hindu pilgrimage site that lies outside India.

The Maha Shivratri pilgrimage takes place every year between February and March. The pilgrimage takes place over 3 days and 3 nights. The pilgrims walk to the lake carrying mobile altars on their backs, which represent different deities. Once at the edge of the waters, the pilgrims perform their own private ceremony to the deities with incense, flowers and other offerings.

Hindu Gods and Giant statues at Grand Bassin

1. Mangal Mahadev:
Standing tall by the entrance to the Grand Bassin is the Mangal Mahadev, a magnanimous statue of Lord Shiva. The statue is 33 meters tall, and portrays Shiva standing erect with his Trishula or trident in his hand. The statue is a replica of the Shiva Statue in Vadodara, Gujarat. It is the largest statue to be built in Mauritius. The building of the statue was completed in the year 2007, and the inauguration was held during the Maha Shivratri festival in 2008.

2. Maa Durga Murti: A comparatively newer addition to the banks of the Ganga Talao, the Maa Durga Murti is a 33 feet tall statue of Durga, the Indian Goddess of war. The bronze statue displays the deity standing erect before a golden lion. The magnanimous statue took 6 years to be completed, and was finally inaugurated in the year 2017.

3. Lord Ganesh statue: The Lord Ganesh statue is a comparatively smaller statue on the banks of the Ganga Talao. The statue portrays Lord Ganesha, the Elephant God, standing on a lotus by the edge of the lake water. The statue is situated beside the Ganesh Temple, which is one of the many temples on the Ganga Talao Premises.

4. Lord Hanuman Statue: The Lord Hanuman statue at Grand Bassin is seen standing on a floating platform towards the edge of the Grand Bassin Lake. The statue portrays Lord Hanuman carrying Mount Dronagiri in one hand, and his Gada in another. According to the Indian epic Ramayana, Lord Hanuman had carried the entire mountain on his hand just to deliver the medicinal herb Sanjivani to Lakshmana, who had been grievously injured in a battle against Ravana.

5. Lord Buddha Statue: The Lord Buddha statue is one of the many statues in Ganga Talao dedicated to a non-Hindu deity. The statue is built entirely of white stone, and portrays Lord Buddha sitting in a meditative position. It is much smaller compared to the other statues in its surroundings.

Traveler's Tips for visiting Grand Bassin

Being the largest Hindu pilgrimage site located outside India, Grand Bassin is an extremely popular attraction among tourists visiting Mauritius. Owing to its religious and cultural background,the Grand Bassin temple is visited by thousands everyday. Here are some important tips to keep in mind while visiting the Grand Bassin premises:

1. It is better to arrive at Grand Bassin in the earliest hours of the morning, around 8-9 AM, to avoid the crowds.

2. Make sure to open your shoes before entering any of the temples at Ganga Talao.

3. Female devotees should not touch the Shivling inside the Lingam Temple in Ganga Talao.

4. The temple premises are crowded with monkeys. Avoid carrying any trinkets in your hand while in the proximity of monkeys.

5. Carry change along for temple donations.

6. Parking space is available adjacent to the Grand Bassin premises.

7. The temple complex often becomes extremely chilly due to mist rising from the lake. Make sure you are wearing adequate clothing.

8. Do not feed the fishes and eels that live in the lake.
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