Sonepur Fair - A Tradition through the Ages
Legend has it that two brothers, devotees of Lord Vishnu, one wily and the other honest, cast a spell upon each other making one an elephant and the other a crocodile. On a Kartik Purnima day, the honest elephant went to the confluence of the holy river Ganga and Gandak to bathe and was attacked by the wily crocodile. Lord Vishnu himself intervened and helped the good triumph over the evil. With Lord Vishnu's help the elephant prevailed upon the Crocodile.
Boats at the river banks, a large no. of elephants, camels, horses, cows, buffaloes, oxen, goats, dogs, cats & birds for sale, loosely robed sadhus (holy men), freshly washed animals, shops on the pavements overflowing with goods, swirling crowds in colourful dresses and joyful moods, curious onlookers-such are the scenes that dominate this wonderful fair.
A unique Fair in which imposing Indian elephants are the prime attraction. The central draw of the fair is cattle trade. All species of birds, poultry, bovines and beasts of burden specially elephants, have a market here.
The post-harvest season for paddy crops coincides with this fair. Sales are brisk in food grains, readymade garments, agricultural implements, weapons, furniture, perfumes, costume jewellery, handcrafted folk toys and utensils in wood, copper, brass and steel.
The fair entertains visitors with 'nautanki'- a typical traditional musical drama performance. Other attractions are the circus, magic shows, fortune-telling parrots, and pedlers of fancy goods.
The Sonepur Mela is indeed A Fair to Remember, year after year.
Fair Duration: A fortnight following the first full moon day in the Hindu month of Kartik Shukla Paksh (Kartik Purnima), which occurs in the period October/ November. Precise duration to be checked up every January.
How to reach: Sonepur is 25 kms across the river Ganga from Patna, the capital city of Bihar, which receives direct daily flights from Delhi and Calcutta, and is a major railway junction also linked by road to important towns on the Calcutta-Delhi route.
Where to stay: Fully furnished Swiss-type Cottages (with attached western toilets) in the Tourist village set up at the Sonepur Fair grounds, supported by catering and security facilities, and offering complimentary elephant ride.
For detailed information, accommodation and transport bookings please contact:
Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC) Tourist Bhawan,
Beer Chand Patel Path, Patna-800 001
Tel: 0612-2225411, 2506219.