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. Mauritius is replete with scenic spots, romantic gardens, salubrious beaches, exotic wildlife parks, historic monuments, medieval ruins and few awesome religious sites – along with modern infrastructure and transportation facilities – all the ingredients to make it a veritable tourist paradise.
The lake is a an annual pilgrimage spot, During Shivaratri, many Shiva devotees of the island and across the world converge in Mauritius and walk bare feet from their homes or drop destinations to the lake. Being the most sacred Hindu place of worship in Mauritius, people of all religions, locals and foreigners alike visit the site with utmost respect and decency.
It is considered the most sacred Hindu place 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 the Grand Bassin.
On arrival at the site, our tour guide chaperone, Preeti explained the significance of the site. The 33 meter statue of the deity, Shiva was awe inspiring, a truly spectacular architectural wonder and very holy significance.
The Legend Lore
The Hindus believe that Lord Shiva, one of the principal deities in Hinduism, is the creator of this Holy site. The legend says that Lord Shiva, who was balancing the Holy Ganges water on his head, was travelling around the Earth with his wife Parvati. This was when he decided to rest on this secluded islad, it was then that some drops of the sacred Ganges River spilt 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 prophesized 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.
The heart of the 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.
As I snaked my way through the crowds, I could hear tour guides explaining the myth and legends of each deity that was smiling upon us. Each tale had been explained with such passion one could not help but linger on every word that the Mauritian guides weaved into a magical story.
I managed to edge my way closer to the entrance of the temple, after removing my shoes, I executed my presence in respectful fashion by touching the first step of the Shiva Temple and then paid homage to ‘Nandi’ – the mother of all Cows and the transportation vehicle of the God Shiva.
The temple is full of many exciting tales and I would recommend tourists to adhere to some general rule, remove shoes at the temple, ensure you cover up especially women and do not eat meat on the day you are planning to visit the temple.