One of Asia’s largest cattle fair and the pride of northern Bihar, Sonepur fair is held on the banks of the Ganga River at the confluence with its tributary, Gandak. Not only cattle but also different breeds of dogs, elephants, camels, and species of birds are also sold at this fair.
Every year the fair takes place on the auspicious dates of Kartik Poornima (full moon day) in November. People come from far-away locations just to take part in this huge fair.
Sonepur comes under the Saran district which is located in the northern part of Bihar. The Sonepur Mela is one of the famous fairs of Bihar which is held on the bank of River Ganga.
This place is situated at a distance of approx. 25 km from the capital city Patna. This fair is also known as ‘Harihar Kshetra Mela’ as it is celebrated in the memory of Lt. Baba Harihar Nath.
History of Sonepur Mela
The origin of this largest cattle fair can be traced back to the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, the Indian king & the first ruler of India who used to buy elephants & horses across the river Ganges. As per historical records, many traders from Central Asia would gather together to take part in the festival. The fair also carries many religious aspects & thousands of devotees visit every year to attend the fair.
However, this was changed under the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Ever since Sonepur has become the venue of the fair and the puja was performed in the Hariharnath Temple.
Cattles (animals) at Sonepur Mela
Cattle trading have been turned in to a large marketplace of different animals mainly including elephants, buffaloes, cows, goats, dogs, horses, rabbits, cats, hens, & an assortment of bird’s species. These cattle are sold & bought during the fair.
Celebrations & Attractions of Sonepur Mela
Just like the legendary state Rajasthan boasts about camels in the Pushkar Fair, Sonepur Mela in Bihar also has a wide range of decorated elephants all lined up for sale & purchase, which is meant as ‘the star attraction’. Bejeweled giant elephants are a sight to behold. Elephants are the main attraction of Sonepur Mela which increases the beauty of the fair.
On medieval occasions, traders from as far as Central Asia used to come here for the exchange of animals in the Sonepur Cattle Fair. Indeed, even today, it is the biggest cattle fair of Asia that goes on from about fifteen days to the entire month.
Another main attraction of this fair is the sighting of various enhanced elephants all arranged up for sale in Haazi Bazaar. Countless Indian breed horses are additionally exchanged or traded here.
Enjoy mind boggling performances of artists & craftsmen in Folk shows, diversions and tricks of jugglers. Other exciting things are merchandise like handicraft works, local clothing, toys, weapons, utensil, and agricultural tools, and local Indian adornments are accessible available to be purchased through the stalls here.
The Sonepur fair is a perfect choice for travellers/ voyagers who want to encounter different aspects of rural India.
Sonepur Mela 2023 dates
Tentative dates: November 20 to December 05, 2023. This festival carries a lot of importance in the lives of Hindu people.
When does it take place?
According to the Hindu calendar, Sonepur Mela of Bihar is organized every year in the month of Kartik (October-November) by the govt. Of Bihar.
Tips for visiting the Mela
1. Enjoy the festival & stay alert in the dark, beware of pick-pocketers and avoid crowded areas & places of the stampede.
2. Avoid carrying loaded materials, cameras, mobile phones & other valuables.
3. Walking around throughout the fair will be at your best to see the entire mela.
How to reach Sonepur Mela?
Easily accessible/reachable from Patna, Sonepur is located around 25 km away. Prepaid taxis run from Patna to Sonepur.
The nearest airport is Patna airport, well-connected to major Indian cities which is around 31 km away from Sonepur. From there, you can take a prepaid taxi to reach the destination.
The closest railway station is the Sonepur Junction. Or you can board a train to Patna or Hajipur station. After reaching there, you can avail of bus/taxi/auto service to reach Sonepur.
Sonepur is well connected to the major cities of India through road. It is also easily accessible by road from Patna & Hajipur.