Grand Bassin in Mauritius should be on your ‘must see’ list of attractions. Grand Bassin (also known as Ganga Talao) is a crater lake situated in a secluded mountain area in the district of Savanne, deep in the heart of Mauritius. It is the most sacred Hindu place in Mauritius. Every year the Hindu community do a pilgrimage to Grand Bassin. Beside the lake you will find a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and other Gods including Hanuman, Lakshmi, and others. A serene and scenic place so you can sit here meditating or wander around, taking beautiful photographs of the lake and the Shiva temple here.
The history of Grand Bassin
Grand Bassin was discovered by Pandit Jhummon Giri Gossagne Nepal who lived in a village in the North of the island called Triolet. The Hindu priest had a dream and in his dream he saw a holy lake which was connected to the sacred river Ganges in India.
At the time roads were far and few. We are talking about 1897. The priest searched for the sacred lake and eventually arrived at Grand Bassin where he came across a lake he recognized from his dream. News of the divine lake soon spread and the following year pilgrims started walking to Grand Bassin from all over the island. Grand Bassin in Mauritius is now one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage site outside of India!
In 1972 a priest from India brought sacred water from the Ganges and amid much ceremonial poured the holy water into the lake. Since then, it is known as Ganga Talao. Ganga for ‘Ganges’ and ‘Talao’ means ‘pool’.
Giant Statue of Lord Shiva
At the northern side of the lake, just a little away from the parking lot you will see a 108 feet tall statue of Lord Shiva (built in 2007), guiding the faithful, visitors and all respectful of tradition. The statue is a faithful copy of the Shiva statue of the Sursagar lake in India. It is the highest known statue in Mauritius. Next to the statue of Lord Shiva is Goddess Durga found. Goddess Durga is just as tall, but she has the record of being the world’s largest statue of her, after years of construction she was presented to the public in September 2017. The attention to details is amazing and you can feel the different textures as you look at it.
The place is populated by monkeys in freedom. Beware of their jokes and their speed. The lake is full of eels and many fish feeding on the offerings, but fishing in this sacred lake is forbidden.
Cultural Significance of Ganga Talao
Grand Bassin is a high place of pilgrimage since 1897, up to 400 000 devotees visit the holy lake to commemorate the Great Night of Lord Shiva (February or March depending on the year) or the Maha Shivratri. Pilgrims carry traveling altars (Kanwars) to the temples of Ganga Talao, sometimes for several days and for several kilometers. Once the pilgrims arrive they perform a puja (act of reverence). They burn incense, camphor at the lakeshore and offering food and flowers. Every Hindu should make this pilgrimage at least once in his life.
You are most welcome to join this amazing festival. Don’t be shy. It’s a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the Mauritian culture and celebrate with us! See you at Grand Bassin in Mauritius!
Useful Information about Grand Bassin
Grand Bassin is a holy place for Hindus so please remove your shoes before entering a temple and dress modestly. Out of respect, ask for permission before taking a photo. Bring a warm jersey because the weather is unpredictable in the mountains. It can get quite cold during winter.
You are most welcome to visit Grand Bassin at anytime of the year. The sacred lake is open to visitors and pilgrims every day. There is no entrance fee but a donation is always welcome.
There is plenty of parking and you can easily spend a couple of hours walking around and looking at everything- it is not needed though and a shorter stop is very possible.
Other things to around Grand Bassin
• On the Eastern side of the sacred lake you will find the tea plantations of Bois Cheri – you can visit the tea plantation, factory and museum, as well as enjoy lunch at their restaurant.
• On the western side you can drive through the Black River Gorges National Park and end up at Chamarel – the Rum factory also is a very interesting stop.
• Seven colored earth of Chamarel (Read More)
• Curious Corner of Chamarel – gallery of interactive illusions and art
• Chamarel Waterfall
• La Vallée des Couleurs – Nature Park
• Hike of the peak of Black River – the highest mountain in Mauritius