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Grand Bassin (Mauritius)

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Sacred Hindu temples situated beside a lake in Mauritius

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      03.05.2011 18:36
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      A wonderful peaceful place set in one of natures extinct Volcanoes.

      Grand Bassin Mauritius.

      Ganga Talao Lake can be found in the highland plains of Mauritius approximately 1800 feet above sea level. It is a beautiful lake in the middle of the high plateau and has become a religious pilgrimage site for the Hindus of Mauritius. Around the edge of the lake are several temples and small offering tables made of stone beside the lake where pilgrims will say prayers and leave gifts on a banana leaf to the lord Shiva.

      The lake is reputed to be 50-60 feet deep and its source is from springs that rise into the crater of the lake. The lake was formed after the once active volcano died out many, many years ago. In the sacred lake there are many sizeable fish which feed off the offerings left by Hindu Pilgrims.

      The surrounding area is covered in lush green foliage but there are also monkeys that can on occasion become quite vicious if goaded. Generally they leave people alone if they are left alone and sit happily in the trees preening themselves.

      In 1887 a priest from the northern town of Triolet had a dream about the lake. He set off the next day in search of it with eight other people. When he discovered the lake he recognised it as looking exactly like it did in his dream. Every year since, pilgrims from all over the island make the pilgrimage to the lake bare footed. People on route often feed the pilgrims as they make their way there. The pilgrims also carry gifts to leave beside the lake and usually the festival takes place in February or March. It is a very colourful procession with all the ladies dressed up in their colourful saris.

      When visiting the temples people should remove their shoes before entering the temple. They should ring the bell above the doorway once and enter. When they are exiting they should do so backwards. Although entrance to the temples is free there are donation boxes set around the temples for people to make donations. The temples are in honour of the following Hindu Gods Shiva, Vishnu and Ganesh and there are several other statues of Manuman, Omkar Lakshmi amongst many others dotted around the sacred site.

      There is also a huge statue of the Hindu God Shiva which was installed and inaugurated in 2007. It is the tallest statue in Mauritius and stands at 108 feet high. It appears to be bronze coloured and wrapped around his arms and his shoulders are three cobras. It looks like he is standing guarding the holy site and appears to be giving a blessing to the arriving pilgrims. There is a second statue of the six armed Goddess Durga due to be installed later this year and this will look fantastic.

      There are plenty of places to park and toilet facilities. Entry to the site is free but remember to leave a donation for the maintenance and upkeep of the temples. A visit can be combined with a trip to other places near by such as the Bois Cheri tea plantation or Chamarel.

      Each time I visit Mauritius I visit this place on a personal pilgrimage to remember a dear friend and colleague who sadly died prematurely from Cancer. There is a peaceful aura at this place and although historically the site is fairly new it seems to improve with time as is fairly typical of Hindu temples and it certainly has a draw to it. I would recommend a visit to this holy site as it is in a place of natural beauty and one that will fill you with awe.

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