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 has acres of silver sand and clear blue sky, and the calm sea to spend the time in tranquillity. Gangasagar is about 135 km away from Kolkata.
The island of Gangasagar is one of the most famous Hindu pilgrimage centers 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. 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.
To avoid the rush, my friend Rina, his son Soumya and I went to Gangasagar in December. We went there in a steamboat after reaching the ferry point by car.
On reaching Gangasagar, also known as Sagardwip, we went to the estuary where the holy Ganga River meets the sea – Bay of Bengal. We dipped in the water and enjoyed at the beach. Then we went to the temple of Kapil muni.
A holy man, Kardam Muni, made a pact with Vishnu that he would undergo the rigours of marital life, on the condition that Vishnu would incarnate as his son. In due time Kapil Muni was born as an incarnation of Vishnu and became a great saint. Kapil Muni’s ashram was located on the island. Kapil muni was a Vedic sage credited as one of the founders of the Samkhya school of philosophy. He is prominent in the Bhagavata Purana, which features a theistic version of his Samkhya philosophy. He is also believed to be a descendant of Manu, a great-grandson of Brahma. The Bhagavad Gita depicts Kapila as a yogi hermit with highly developed siddhis, or spiritual powers.
After worshiping at the temple we moved to return to our home by ferry and then by our car. It was a lovely trip and we enjoyed it a lot.
There is a popular Bengali saying about Sagardwip or Gangasagar:
সব তীর্থ বারবার, গঙ্গাসাগর একবার!
Sab teertha barbar, Gangasagar ekbar! This means: all pilgrimages again and again but Gangasagar only once.