Gangasagar Mela is the largest fair celebrated in West Bengal and second largest in India. This fair is held where the Ganga and the Bay of Bengal form a nexus. Hence the name Gangasagar Mela. It is celebrated during 12 th to 15 th January every year. A holy dip is celebrated on Makar Sankranti , last day of the Bengali Month Poush.
Both the points Namkhana and Harwood Point can be reached by train from Sealdah Station. There are direct trains to Kakdwip from Sealdah Station with link trains to Namkhana. Train fare up to Kakdwip is Rs. 18 only. From Kakdwip, Harwood Point is only 5 Km. and Namkhana is 12 Km. by bus or jeep.
CSTC Bus Service from Esplanade/Babughat/Taratala
Sagar Island can be approached from either Harwood point or Namkhana. Both the points are linked by Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CSTC) or West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation buses. Distance of Harwood Point is around 80 Km. from Kolkata and Namkhana is 13 Kilometers more. Bus fare from Kolkata (Esplanade) to Namkhana is around Rs. 60 (during Mela 2008). During the Mela, busses will end at the ferry crossing in Harwood point (or also called 'Lot 8'), and they will start in Kolkata also from Babughat, Howrah Railway Station and Taratola in South Kolkata
It is possible to go the entire length by private car or hired car from Kolkata. At Harwood Point there is provision to transport vehicle with the help of a barge locally known as LCT. There are no fixed time for the crossings, because it is totally dependent on the water-level and thus, on the tides. The charge for a light or medium vehicle is Rs.300/-. The fare increases at the time of Ganagasagar Mela (The Fair).
To reach Sagar Island one must cross the Muriganga river/creek by ferry service. Ferry service is available in both Harwood point and Namkhana and controlled by West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation. Frequency of crossings are more in Harwood point and it is once in every half an hour. The fare for a single crossing for a person is Rs. 6/- as on December 2005. The fare increases at the time of Ganagasagar Mela (The Fair); Rs. 40.00, during 2008 Mela.
After reaching Sagar Island one have to cross the whole stretch of Sagar Island (32 Km.) by local bus or shared taxi or private taxi. The bus fare should be around Rs.10. A private jeep charges around Rs.800-900 for one way, so if shared by 9 passengers a fare of Rs.100 is a fair price. There is no accommodation available on the point of crossing (Kachuberia), so everybody has to travel the whole stretch of the Island and reach the southernmost part, where accommodations are abundant.
The Coast Guard and the Navy, with their dorniers and howercrafts and divers, join-in the local administration to keep a strict vigil to prevent any accident or untoward incident.
Volunteers of HAM brigade-posted with readily available alternate communication facility through their handsets- also aid the security agencies at all the sensitive points of the fair. Their association helped in preventing the lifting of children for trafficking. Besides, these volunteers are a boon in the wake of any unforeseen natural calamity.
Economically backward village people of Sagardwip are eagerly waiting for the festival as this is meant for their major source of income. The development of the island is due to the festival.
The greatness of the mela can be assessed from the fact that over a million pilgrims come from far-flung corners of India and beyond, speaking different languages and belonging to diverse castes and creeds, for a sacred dip at this holy confluence.