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The emergence of Ganga Talao

The story begins with the arrival of the indentured labourers from India. They were brought to work in the cane fields in Mauritius. In view of bringing some essence and moral support in their lives, they did their best to recreate and revive on the island, some of the traditions of their motherland, named India. Though the Hindus continued to observe their traditions and customs, they could not afford to travel to the sacred water of the Ganges and they felt themselves completely uprooted from their motherland. Their fervent wish of making their annual pilgrimage to the sacred Ganges to celebrate the Maha Shivratree became unrealistic.

In those days, there lived a man by the name of Shri Jhummun Giri Gossagne Napal, who had a dream about the Ganges in India, bearing a link to a lake inhabited by fairies in Mauritius. In his subconscious vision, he located the same lake in a very dense forest adjacent to a hill in the shape of a temple. The fairies conforted him in his dream by reminding that he need not miss his Holy Ganges any longer which he had already left behind. He should instead endeavor to set out in search of the lake which he had dreamt of.

The next morning, Shri Jhummun Giri Gossagne Napal woke up and told everyone in the village about his dream and the holy lake. Nobody believed his words as the villagers thought that he had lost his mental balance. Irrespective of what the local people thought about his dream, it so happened that one morning, Shri Jhummun Giri Gossagne Napal and three of his followers set out in a bullock cart in search of the lake. They travelled from the north to the south and from the east to the west of the island, until finally they discovered the lake in a place known as Grand Bassin. At night, Shri Jhummun Giri Gossagne Napal climbed to the temple-shaped hill and in the clear moonlight, the former sighted with his naked eyes the fairies which he had seen in his dream. Those fairies, as he stated later on to his followers, were singing and dancing on the lake. Although shrines of parimaye and brambha present at Grand Bassin shows that the first trip to the place dated as far back as 1887, yet it is emphasized that a group of nine pilgrims left Triolet in 1898 to proceed to Grand Bassin for the first pilgrimage. The group that set for the long pioneering march comprised of Pandit Ramlall Maharaj, Pandit Jagat Maharaj, Ramjutton Mahaton, Chikoree Mahaton and Ghananand Maharaj.

It is also to be highlighted that Shri Jhummun Giri Gossagne Napal was the first priest to officiate at Grand Bassin. In his quest and attempt to make Grand Bassin become a sacred place of pilgrimage for the Hindus in Mauritius, he eventually got the first temple erected over there. But the same temple due to its lack of solid base, got subsequently blown off by severe cyclones.

As an ardent follower of Shivji, Shri Jhummun Giri Gossagne Napal for a long time afterwards, went from village to village to collect money to construct a temple at Bois Pignolet, Terre Rouge. As soon as the temple got completed, a large group of people set out with Shri Jhummun Giri Gossagne Napal to the fairy lake. Once the pilgrims reached the Pari Talao, they poured the sacred water of the Ganges, which they carried with them into the fairy lake. In return, they collected water of the Pari Talao and carried it all the way back from the lake to be poured onto the Shiva Lingam at the temple of Bois Pignolet. When they saw how pure the water from the lake was, they undoubtedly believed that the same natural element was blessed by the fairies on the lake. This explains the origin of the name Pari Talao. From then onwards, pilgrimage to the Pari Talao became a yearly event for the Maha Shivratree festival.

As regards to the land surrounding the lake, it was only in 1962 that the same got officially leased to the Hindu Maha Sabha. 1964 remains the memorable year as a historical decision was taken to build the first shivala at Pari Talao. The completion of the temple was achieved in 1966. From then onwards, the infrastructural development of the site started under the leadership of the eminent presidents of the Hindu Maha Sabha. 1972 was the culmination year for the Pari Talao because it was during that period that the sacred Ganga-jal from Haridwar was brought and ritually poured in the lake. Since then, it came to be named as Ganga Talao.