The Sonepur Cattle Fair/Mela or Harihar Kshetra Mela is held on the full moon day (Purnima) of the Hindu lunar month of Karthik (approximately November) in Sonepur, in the Saran district in the northern part of Bihar. The Mela held on the banks of river Ganga most particularly on the confluence of the Ganga and Gandak. Till date, it is the biggest cattle fair of Asia. The fair continues for about fifteen days to one month. According to local folklore Sonepur Cattle Fair revives the Gajendra moksha legend which is related to the Hariharanatha Temple in Sonepur.
The Sonepur Fair is of great antiquity because it has its origins
during ancient times. History reveals that Chandragupta Maurya used to
buy elephants and horses across the river Ganges. Then it attracted
traders from several places as distant as Central Asia. The site of the
present fair was originally at Hajipur but shifted to Sonepur during the
reign of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. One of the purposes of the people
visiting the Sonepur Cattle Fair, apart from the fair, is to take a holy
dip and offer puja at the Hariharnath MahadeoTemple. From local folklore
it is believed that the Hariharnath temple have been originally built by
Lord Rama, on his way to the court of King Janak to win the hand of his
daughter princess Sita.
After offering puja in Hariharanath temple the visitors visit the
various attractions offered in and around the mela ground. They are
attracted to varieties of shops selling varieties of products like
garments, weapons, furniture, toys, utensils, agricultural implements,
jewelry and handicrafts. Folk shows, games and jugglers further add to
the attraction of the Sonepur Cattle Fair. Handicrafts, paintings and
pottery from all over India can be seen here. For food loving people
there are varieties of cuisine from almost all parts of the country.
But the most important of all attractions is the one where numerous
elephants, beautifully decorated are lined up for sale. The Sonepur Fair
is the only one where such a large number of elephants are sold. These
are mainly purchased by different forest departments and people involved
with logging operations. Apart from elephants, a large number of cattle,
a wide variety of animals and horses are also brought to the fair for
sale. Nearly all types of animals are bought to the Sonepur mela like
dogs, camels, buffaloes, donkeys, ponies, monkeys, chimps, Persian
horses, sheep, rabbits, bears, cats, and guinea pigs. All varieties of
birds, poultry and fishes are also available.
How to Reach
Sonepur is 25 kilometers from Patna, the capital city of Bihar. By Air
you have to reach Patna airport. By Rail you have to board a rail to
Patna or Hajipur station. From Patna or Hajipur you can hire taxi/auto
for Sonepur Mela.