The Grand Bassin (or Ganga Talao), in Mauritius, is the most important Hindu place of the island and a must visit for anybody interested in experiencing a different culture.
I visited this place in late August and I was surprised by the enormity of the parking area and the road arriving to Grand Bassin. It was definitely looking disproportionate compared with the surrounding area.
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Why so much space left for parking?
If you want a real answer come over in February, during the Maha Shivaratri celebrations where half a million people visit Ganga Talao temple in pilgrimage.
History of Grand Bassin
As the legend says, Shiva and his wife Parvati were travelling around the planet on a contraption made of flowers when they were stunned by the beauty of this island surrounded by an emerald water.
Shiva, who was carrying the Ganges river on his shoulder to defend the world from floods, decided to visit the island. During the lending, however, few drops of water spilt from the Ganges to create the Grand Bassin, in a crater of an extinct volcano.
The Ganges was not happy to be left there, however, Shiva promised that one day the new inhabitants of the island would come every year for a pilgrimage during which the water of the lake would be given as an offering.
Best month to visit
I was talking with a local guy which told me that everybody on the island goes on this pilgrimage and he could not remember a year when they haven’t experience lots of rain during the festivities. Is it a coincidence?
February is the month with the highest percentage of rain and this area is the place in Mauritius with the highest number of storms on the island.
If you visit Mauritius in February then make sure to add the Grand Bassin in your top attractions list, even if the weather is not that great. It’s all about the experience.
The Shiva Statue at the Grand Bassin
The Shiva Statue in Grand Bassin is the first and most impressive statue you will see on site.
It’s 33 metres high, built in 2007 as an accurate copy of the Shiva Statue in Gujarat in India.
Please note that you can walk from the statue to the Grand Bassin lake. It will take around 15-20 minutes. You can see the map below for more information
The Grand Bassin temple
There is actually more than one temple in the Grand Bassin.
I personally suggest visiting Lord Shiva Temple, probably the most popular one, facing the lake. This is obviously a sacred place and you should remember to remove your shoes.
Have also walk up to the Hanuman Temple. The view is quite unique from up there. Just pay attention to the many monkeys that are always attracted by the shiny objects like the sunglasses.
How to plan the visit to the Ganga Talao
The best way to come here is by renting a car, alternatively, you can take a taxi. You may want to make a full day of it, visiting the Grand Bassin in the early morning and drive down to the impressive Gris Gris coastline.
Start your visit at the 33 metres tall statue of Lord Shiva. Walk to the lake and follow the path along the lakeshore till you arrive at the temple (see map below)
From the temple you can follow the steps to the top of the hill where you will have a beautiful view of the surrounding area, beside encountering a few monkeys.
You can visit the Grand Bassin from everywhere on the island. From the north budget a 1.5-hour drive. From the east or the west coast, it will take under 1 hour.
If you are looking for a place to stay in Mauritius I suggest to read this ultimate guide. It goes through some stunning locations and the best time of the year to stay there.
There are amazing beaches which become very windy, and with rain, during the winter. A few tips will help you to avoid bad surprises.
Ultimate guide to where to stay in Mauritius