Ganga Talao (commonly known as Grand Bassin) is a crater lake situated in a secluded mountain area in the district of Savanne, deep in the heart of Mauritius (East Africa). It is about 550 m (1,800 ft) above sea level. The first group of pilgrims who went to Ganga Talao were from the village of Triolet and it was led by Pandit Giri Gossayne from Terre Rouge in 1898.
It is considered the most sacred Hindu place in Mauritius
The Shiv Mandir is located on the bank of the lake and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. There are temples dedicated to other Gods including Lord Hanuman, Goddess Ganga, and Lord Ganesh along the Grand Bassin. During Shivaratri, many pilgrims in Mauritius walk bare feet from their homes to the lake.
Ganga Talao (commonly known as Grand Bassin in Mauritius) is a crater lake, about 550 metres above sea level, located in the mountainous Southwest district of Savanne. On the shoreline sits a temple along with a collection of small shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva and other gods.
Ganga Talao is a major draw of crowds in Mauritius, with many people visiting the site to pray, meditate, play with the local monkeys, or simply to walk by the lake and enjoy the gorgeous surrounding views.
The lake of Ganga Talao is thought to be around 18 meters deep and is teeming with a healthy population of fish and eels – no doubt due to the leftover offerings they receive from Hindu pilgrims. However, it is strictly forbidden to fish here due to the sacred nature of the Ganga Talao lake.
In local folklore, the Ganga Talao lake’s history as a pilgrimage site goes back to 1887, when a Triolet ‘pujari’, or priest, had a dream in which he saw the lake’s water springing from the river Jahnavi, another name for the goddess Ganga.
The Ganga Talao crater lake is at the heart of one of the island’s most important Hindu festivals, Maha Shivaratri. Every year thousands of Hindus make the rugged journey to Grand Bassin for a touch of divinity.
Maha Shivratri celebrates the god Shiva, one of Hinduism’s three major deities. Pilgrims carry hand-made “kanwars” – shrines dedicated to Shiva, to Ganga Talao, and once they find a suitable place at the water’s edge, they perform their own private prayer ceremonies with offerings of fruit, incense sticks and lamps.