The famed cattle fair is held at Sonepur, 30kms from Patna in Northern Bihar on the banks of the River Ganga. During this month-long fair, cattle decorated for the occasion throng the venues of the town.
The full moon day of the month of Kartik (November) is regarded as one of the most auspicious days for the Hindus. Sonepur situated on the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga and Gandak, has the reverence of a blessed ground. A bath at the confluence and a visit to the Hariharnath temple here is the aim for thousands of devotees on the Kartika Purnima day. The 'Hariharnath Kshetra Mela' is now more known for the cattle fair held during this time.
Gajendhra Moksha legend is associated with the temple in Sonepur. It involves the story of king Indrayamuna and the Gandharva chief Huhu, who were turned into an elephant and a crocodile respectively by the curse of great sages Agasthya and Dewala muni. One day the elephant's leg was caught by the crocodile. It is said that both of them fought hard for many years with their herds. But ultimately the King Elephant weakened and prayed to the supreme god Vishnu (Hari) to save him. Vishnu heard his prayer and cut down the crocodile with his 'Chakra'. But the touch of the chakra released Huhu from the curse. Vishnu also released Indrayamuna from his curse and took him to his aboard 'Vaikuntha'.
The sprawling mela ground here with the pulsating market has the widest possible range of cattle and commodities. The array of shops sells all sorts of merchandise. One of the most attractive sight is the elephants lined up for sale. Sonepur Fair is the only one of its kind where such a large number of elephants are sold. These are purchased mainly by forest departments and people involved with logging operations. Apart from elephants, a large number of cattle and horses are also brought to the fair for sale. Various folk shows, games and jugglers can be seen in the fair.
How to get there
Air : Nearest Airport is at Patna, 30 km from Sonepur. Patna is linked to all major cities by Indian Airlines and Sahara flights.
Festivals - Bihar