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Grand Bassin PDF Print E-mail
gbBeyond La Marie and Mare-aux-Vacoas is found one of the two natural lakes of Mauritius. It rests within the crater of an extinct volcano. Ganga Talao is an important pilgrimage site and many Mauritians of the Hindu faith walk there during the Maha Shivaratri festival or the night fasting dedicated to Shiva.

Grand Bassin is a natural lake formed by the action of volcanoes. It lies within the crater of a volcano, at the height of 2250 feet above sea level and covers an area of about 25 acres. It is an important pilgrimage site since almost 150 years.

 The place is peaceful, calm, and serene and is located in a beautiful environment ideal foe health therapies and soothing exercises. Above all, it excludes a spirituality that has inspired the first Indian immigrants to select it as a local representation of River Ganges in India and suitable for pilgrimage.

 Grand Bassin, as the name implies, is relatively big. The first Indians referres to it as Pari Talav (faitries Lake). Legends have it that some of the earlier Indian immigrants had seen fairies bathing and playing in the lake – hence the name Pari Talav. Many still refer to it as such though, officially, the name has been changed to Ganga Talav after water from Gangotri, the source of the Ganges in India, was brought and poured into the lake.

 There is an islet in the middle that helps give the lake a mystic dimension. It is said that many tried to reach he island and have failed because mysterious force pulls them beneath the water and nobody, however good at swimming, dares to reach there.

 Grand Bassin, formerly beyond the reach of many, has now become easily accessible. Pilgrim leaves their places three days prior to the celebration of Maha Shivratree and walk the whole distance. Their faith and devotion guide them because they believe that a divine spirit dominates the place.

 Today Grand Bassin is more or less a cosmopolitan spiritual site as pilgrims and devotees of lord Shiva flock to it from all parts of the world for the celebration of Maha Shivratree. The roads are asphalted and large and easily accessible to any parts of the lake. Huge parking lots are available.

 Crossing the first parking area at the northern entrance to the lake, the eyes meet the giant statue of Lord Shiva, 108 feet high. It is the second tallest in the world after the 120 foot high Shiva’s statue in New Delhi.

 For the Maha Shivratree festival, the lake takes a new look. The temples are newly painted, cleaned, the statues of the deities are washed and they look vey cleaned and inspiring. Apart from the pilgrims, tourists also participate in the prayers and make the ceremonies more colourful. Film makers are also present to capture the scenes and ceremonies taking place. Women in their sareers, men in their kurtas and shirts offering fruits and flowers and prayers make an unforgettable moment.

 There is a small hill crowed with a Hanuman Temple. The pilgrims and visitors have to climb 108 steps to reach the top of the hill to get the blessing of the powerful Hanuman and enjoy the marvelous landscape that unfolds before them. At times, clouds or fog or mists overtake them and they are forced to descend. Children and youngsters compete going up and down as it gives them a unique opportunity to partake of these wild pleasures.

Grand Bassin offers much more especially on an off day. The forest that surrounds the lake on three sides has a special attraction, lush green vegetation, the palnts, the trees with leaves of all hues, chirpy birds, hares, mongoose, wild pigs, stray stags and so many things.

 From Grand Bassin a bird’s eye view of the southeast is available. The beauty is ineffable. The whole area unrolls like green carpet with patches of dark brown and dark blue. A visit to Grand Bassin cannot be missed.

 Apart from its religious and pious vocation Grand Bassin is a place where one can give vent to all sorts of wild feelings and activities hopping, gamboling, hiking, trekking, strolling, climbing mountains, excursions, tracking, relaxing in a spiritual and solemn climate far from the filth and pollution of the town. The air itself is fresh and health restoring.