Harihar Kshetra Sonepur Mela - World Famous Cattle Fair

Harihar Kshetra Sonepur Mela attracts visitors from all over Asia. It is the biggest cattle fair in Asia and usually lasts from between fifteen days to one month in duration. It was historically started by the Suryawanshi Bais Kings of saran. The Sonepur Cattle Fair used to attract traders from places as far away as Central Asia.The fair is held on Kartik Poornima (the full moon day) over the months of November and December in Sonepur, Bihar. The fair is popular since ancient eras for trading animals, especially elephants and horses. With a few amendments made in the fair, it is now visited by millions of people from all over the world. This year Sonepur Mela is held from 20th November 2024 to 5th December 2024. During this, colorful programs, adventure sports, water sports, kick boxing, traditional fashion shows and other competitions are being organized in the fair. These are the center of attraction for all the malleers and tourists.
It is believed that this temple was built by Lord Rama while he was going to King Janak’s court for the marriage proposal with Sita. Since then, this temple is of great significance, especially among the locals. The fair is also organized in the remembrance of Lord Vishnu’s intervention amid the longstanding fight between a crocodile (grah) and an elephant (gaj) in Hindu mythology. The battle was a symbol of water fighting with forest. While the elephant was bathing in the River Gandak, a crocodile attacked it. To resolve the matter, Lord Vishnu had to intervene and save the elephant.
Originally, the venue of the fair was Hajipur and only the performance of the puja used to take place at the Harihar Nath temple of Sonpur. However, under the rule of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, the venue of the fair got shifted to Sonpur. It is further said that Raja Man Singh later got the temple repaired. Since Sonpur is situated at the convergence of the sacred rivers Ganges and Gandak, the Hindus regard it as a holy site. One of the purposes of the people visiting the Sonpur Cattle Fair, apart from the fair, is to take a holy dip at the convergence and pay respects at the Hariharnath Temple.
Many farm animals can be bought at the Sonpur mela from all breeds of dogs, buffaloes, donkeys, ponies, Persian horses, rabbits, goats and even the occasional camel. Many varieties of birds and poultry are also available. The area that attracts all, however, is the Haathi Bazaar where elephants are lined up for sale. The Sonpur Fair is the only place where such a large number of elephants are traded - although they cannot legally be sold. Trade in elephants has been prohibited at Sonpur Mela since 2004 owing to strict enforcement of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and further denial of transfer of ownership certificate to the elephant owners. A major attractions is the sight of numerous elephants beautifully decorated for the purpose of display.
Numerous stalls are also set up at the grounds of the Sonpur Cattle Fair. One will find a wide variety of goods in these stalls, ranging from garments, weapons, furnitures, toys, utensils, agricultural implements, jewelry and handicrafts. Sonpur Mela continues to attract foreign tourists who arrive with the motive of capturing various elements of rural settlement. Apart from the photo opportunity, elephants continue to lure most foreign tourists. Swiss cottages are set up by Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC) at the Sonpur fair, with facilities of Internet facility, motor boat ride in river Gandak, food at the tourist village and pre-paid taxis from Patna Airport to Sonpur fair. Disneyland park is set up during the Sonpur Mela.

Dates of Harihar Kshetra Sonepur Mela

The dates for Sonepur Mela are picked according to the Hindu Calendar. So, the mela commences in the Kartik month on the full moon day also called Kartik Poornima. It usually falls in either November or December according to the Gregorian Calendar. This year Sonepur Mela is held from 20th November 2024 to 5th December 2024.

How To Reach Harihar Kshetra Sonepur Mela

One can reach Sonepur in several ways like via train, by plane or by road. The closest airport is located in Patna that goes by the name Lok Nayak Jayaprakash International Airport. Since it is situated 31 kilometers away from Sonepur, you will have to take a taxi to get to the destination. As Sonepur is equipped with a functioning railway station, traveling by train is the best option for visitors. Besides Sonepur Junction Railway Station, there are other railway stations in Hajipur and capital city Patna.