Hindu Gods along the Ganga Talao

Deep in Mauritius' Savanne District - and almost lost in the dense and unexplored jungle that covers the island's southern-most tip - lies the mysterious and sacred lake known as Ganga Talao.

Hindu devotees from all across the island - and the world - come to worship on the shores of this holy lake, which is one of the island's most well known tourist attractions.

Water from the Sacred Ganges was mixed into Ganga Talao in 1972, which has ensured the lake's pre-eminence among the island's several sacred sites, and the lake's delightfully wild shore is home to many holy statues including the island's largest: the 108ft-high effigy of Lord Shiva that sits serenely on a pedestal a little way out into the lake.

Ganga Talao, which rests peacefully in the crescent-shaped crater of a long-extinct volcano lying about 1,800ft above sea level, is also known for its exotic wildlife, and visitors should always be on the look out for the lake's giant eels and its myriad of fish.

Nestled just below the volcano's summit, the lake's deep-blue waters reflect the azure of the Mauritian sky, and, in order to enjoy the Ganga Talao experience to the fullest, a walk along the mountain's peak to view the lake and surrounding Plaine Champagne is a must.

Sacred to Lord Shiva, the monkey-deity Hanuman and divine Lakshmi - to name but a few - Ganga Talao is the subject of an annual pilgrimage, the Maha Shivaratri, and the lake shore has been adorned with several temples, which sport dozens of the distinctively colorful statues and bas-reliefs of the Hindu gods and goddesses.

Legend has it that Ganga Talao was created when Lord Shiva accidentally spilled a few drops of the Sacred Ganges on the island, and, as the lake is thus acknowledged to be a long-lost tributary of the mighty Ganges, the Maha Shivaratri has grown into the largest annual pilgrimage outside of India.

Lord Shiva's gigantic statue beckons the faithful from miles away and can clearly be seen towering above the tangled trees that encircle Ganga Talao. All who visit Mauritius should take the opportunity to explore this haven of tranquility and to recharge their spiritual batteries in the peace and quiet of this jungle setting. Should they visit during Maha Shivaratri, however, they should keep in mind that they will share the lake with hundreds of thousands of devoted pilgrims.

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