This was my very first trip to the island and there was something inside of me drawing me closer to the little-big mandir (temple) of Shiva.
#TRAVEL: Mauritius is a spectacular island nation situated on the south western side of the Indian Ocean, encompassing other islands like Agalega, Rodrigues and St. Brandon.
The island of Mauritius is replete with scenic spots, romantic gardens, salubrious beaches, exotic wildlife parks, historic monuments, medieval ruins. One cannot visit the island of Mauritius and not visit the Grand Bassin – along with modern infrastructure and transportation facilities – all the ingredients to make it a veritable tourist paradise.
The diversity of people in Mauritius includes people with British and French roots, those with Indian descent (Indo-Mauritians), Creoles and Sino-Mauritians (with Chinese descent).
It’s hardly surprising then, that the country is also richly religiously diverse. Around 49% of the population are Hindus, 32% are Christians, 17% are Muslims and some 0.4% are Buddhists (according to this site). This religious diversity is celebrated through an array of festivals, practices and celebrations.
The Grand Bassin is a an annual pilgrimage spot for thousands of Hindus.
During Shivaratri, many Shiva devotees of the island and from other parts of the world converge in Mauritius for this spectacular religious event. Thousand take on a pilgrimage walking barefoot from their homes or drop destinations to the lake.
Even on a non-festival day, the Grand Bassin is still a tourist wonder as the giant statues of Shiva and consort, Durga are impressive and the lake offers a lovely place to stroll around. And if you’re visiting the Petrin side of the Black River Gorges National Park it’s only a few minutes drive from the park entrance.
The lake is considered the most sacred Hindu sites in Mauritius with a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and other gods of the Hindu pantheon including Lord Hanuman, Goddess Ganga, and Lord Ganesh along lakeside of Grand Bassin.
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 Ganga Talao at anytime of the year. The sacred lake is open to visitors and pilgrims every day. There is no entrance fee. A donation is always welcome.
The legendary lore of the sacred lake
Hindus believe that Lord Shiva – one of the principal deities in Hinduism – is the creator of this divine location. The legend goes on to say that Lord Shiva – who was balancing the Holy Ganges water on his head – was travelling around the Earth with his wife Parvati.
Along their travel around the globe, on passing the island, the Hindu god Shiva decided to rest on this secluded island, it was then that some drops of the sacred Ganges River spilled into the crater of an extinct volcano on the island and created a small lake that we now know as the ‘Grand Bassin Lake’ in Mauritius.
The legend continues to narrate that it was then that Shiva had a prophesy that some of the people who have lived along the banks of Ganges in India would later on come and reside on this island and glorify the Ganges here on the island of Mauritius.
The heart of the divine Shiva Temple is hidden at the edge of the Grand Bassin lake where large number of Mauritians and tourists of every walk of life had come to either experience the divine vibrations of the priests or to learn more about the landmark.
My journey to the heart of Lord Shiva
I had already lost my tour group, I could only feel as if I was being led to this temple by a strange divine energy.
As I snaked my way through the crowds of tourists who were latching on to every word of their tour guides. The guides were explaining the myth and legends of each deity that was smiling upon us. Each tale had been shared with such passion one cannot help but linger on every word that Mauritian guides weaved into a magical story. As a devotee of the Hindu god Shiva, I could feel an inexplicable connection with the deity at the Grand Bassin. I managed to edge my way closer to the entrance of the temple – after removing my shoes – I touched the first step of the Shiva Temple. A spark surged through my hand on contact, I felt that spot between my eyes beginning to burn. I felt the energy of the legendary 13th Jyotirlinga.
My trip to Mauritius felt complete but this was just the beginning of my lifetime affair with the island. The temple is full of many exciting tales and I would recommend tourists to adhere to some general rules.
You can read some basic etiquette at Hindu Temples by clicking here