Location : Sonepur

State : BIHAR



Sonepur is located in Saran district in the northern part of Bihar. This district shaped like a triangle is demarcated by three mighty rivers – the Ganga, Gandak and Ghagra. Sonepur stands on the confluence of the Ganga and Gandak.

The Sonepur Mela of Bihar is organized every year in the Hindu month of Kartik (November). The mela (fair) is held on the embankment of River Ganga at Sonepur, situated at a distance of approximately 25 km from the capital city of Patna. Celebrated on the day of Kartik Purnima, in the month of November, this fair commemorates Harihar Nath. Also known as Harihar Kshetra Mela, the Sonepur Cattle Fair once used to attract traders from places as distant as Central Asia. Till date, it is the biggest cattle fair of Asia and stretches on from fifteen days to one month.

Another major attraction is the sight of numerous elephants, beautifully decorated for the purpose of sale. However, people from forest departments and those involved with logging operations mostly purchase these elephants. Also, a large number of horses are also traded at the Sonepur Mela. Folk shows, games and jugglers further add to the attraction of the Sonepur Cattle Fair. Although the fair carries on for approximately fifteen days to one month, the maximum number of people can be seen here a few days before and after the auspicious day of Kartik Purnima.


There are many historical events associated with Sonepur Mela like the first meetingof the “Indian Association of Cow Protection” held at this place in 1888. Different meetings during Sonepur Fair lead to the launch of the struggle movement against the British imperialism in Bihar.

The fair was also used as a recruitment ground by The Provincial Congress Committee of Bihar and the Bihar Kisan Sabha (Farmers union), these all events made this fair as the breeding ground of politics.

One of the interesting histories associated with the fair is that the original site for this popular fair was Hajipur instead of Sonepur. Previously only the ceremony of puja used to be held at Harihar Nath temple of Sonepur but later the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb decided to shift the site of the fair to Sonepur..

It is believed that the temple of Harihar Nath was built by Lord Rama on his way to court of King Janak to win the hand of Mata Sita and later repaired by Raja Man Singh. Finally Raja Ram Narain further modified the temple during the late Mughal period.



These days, Sonepur fair also called Harihar Kshetra Mela is administered by District of Chapra with support from Bihar Govt. and promoted by the Tourism Ministry of Bihar. The administration also arranges health and welfare camps, sanitation, drinking water facilities for the visitors.


*       Legends

Like so many places of pilgrimage in India Sonepur also has its legend. It involves two kings both of whom were turned into animals – a crocodile and an elephant – by the curse of sages who were offended by them.

Once, while bathing in the lake with a party of women, a Gandharva chief named Huhu made fun of Dewala Muni by playfully pulling his leg. The ire of the sage took the form of a curse that turned Huhu into a crocodile.

The other accursed person was Indradyumna, a king of the Pandyas who was of a very pious nature but had offended the powerful sage, Agastya. The king had failed to notice the sage as he was in meditation when the sage visited him. The curse of the enraged Agastya turned Indradyumna into an elephant who took refuge in the woods surrounding the lake.

One day while the elephant came with a herd to the lake to bathe, the gandharva-turned-crocodile caught his leg in its powerful jaws. Not to be taken lightly, the king of elephants tried to pull the crocodile up on the bank in an effort to crush him under his feet. A mighty battle ensued which was joined by other crocodiles and elephants.

The contest went on for thousands of years without any one being able to overpower the other. But ultimately the King Elephant weakened and prayed to the supreme god Vishnu (Hari) to save him. His prayer was answered and Vishnu cut down the crocodile with his chakra (disc).

The touch of the chakra, however, released Huhu from the curse and he went to heaven. Vishnu also released Indradyumna from his curse by touching his forehead and took the king to His abode, Vaikuntha.

How to Reach Sonepur

Sonepur Fair, the Asia’s biggest cattle fair held at northern Bihar on the banks of the River Ganga. The month long fair attracts visitors from far long places for trade of cattle, horses and elephants.

Visitors also attend the pulsating fair for many other activities other than the cattle trade like shopping in market stalls or witness live music, traditional dancing, storytelling, carnival acts and enjoy regional food and drink specialties.

There are many religious reasons for visitors to attend the fair like people come here to take holy dip in the confluence of the River Ganga and River Gandak and to offer obeisance to Harihar Nath in Hariharanath temple.

One can reach the site of Sonepur Mela from Patna, as Sonepur is 25 kilometers from the capital city Patna of Bihar. Patna is well connected by Airways and Railways from all major cities of India. Even one can board a train to Hajipur station. Sonepur is assessable by road from Patna and Hajipur.

Where to Stay

State Tourism Department of Bihar offers Swiss cottage tents with all facilities and other then this there are wide options available for different private hotels at Patna.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011 to Friday, 9 December 2011