Sonepur fair (mela in Hindi) near Patna, Bihar has its origins during ancient times. This is when Chandragupta Maurya used to buy elephants and horses across the river Ganges. Now it takes place annually, 35 kilometres from Patna, the capital of Bihar. It is held for 21 days in the month of November at the junction of the rivers, Ganga and Gandak. It even has a legendary tale attached to it. Many believe that a struggle took place at this spot between the ruler of Gandharva, Huhu and Indraya muni; ultimately Lord Vishnu helping the weaker latter. That is why there is a vast gathering of devotees gathered at the confluence for the two holy rivers for the blessed dip at the adjacent "Harihar Nath temple" on the full moon day.
Sonepur mela is the Asia's and probably one of the worlds largest cattle fair. Nearly all animals can be bought at the Sonepur mela from all breeds of dogs to camels to buffaloes, donkeys, ponies, monkeys, chimps, Persian horses, sheep, rabbits, bears, cats, and guinea pigs. All varieties of birds, poultry and fishes are also available. This is only place in the world that sells elephants in large numbers. Handicrafts, paintings and pottery not only from famous Madhubani but all over India can be seen here. All varieties of horticulture can be admired; this is a particular feast for the people of Bihar as it's a major opportunity to enhance their gardens. Temporary shops selling household goods, local and branded clothing and commercial merchandise are also up for sale. Not to forget the food lovers, it's absolutely divine. In recent years, government and several companies have started installing their shops to promote their products and services.
The Sonepur mela even runs health camps for the well being of animals specially elephants. Animal farmers, circus entertainers, traders and individuals come for a bargain. Some come for the sheer entertainment and a family day out that it provides.
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