High above sea level, in the highland plains of Mauritius is the beautiful crater lake of Ganga Talao located. Ganga Talao is a sacred lake and pilgrimage site for Hindus all over Mauritius. As the most sacred Hindu destination on Mauritius, Ganga Talao attracts the faithful year round as they come to pray, chant, meditate and to make offerings. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the transformer and destroyer, but also other gods as Lord Hanuman, goddess Lakshmi and others.
The lake is believed to be connected to the Holy River Ganga. The legend goes that the god Shiva, the transformer and destroyer, and his wife Parvati were flying around the world in a ship, because Shiva wanted to show Parvati the most beautiful places on earth, therefore stopping on Mauritius. During the journey Shiva was carrying the River Ganga on his head to prevent the earth from flooding. When they landed on Mauritius, Shiva accidentally spilled water from the holy river, drops were flowing together in the crater. That is how the Ganga Talao emerged.
In local folklore, the lakes history as a pilgrimage site dates back the 1887. Here a Triolet ‘Pujari’, or priest, had a dream in where he saw the lakes water spring from the river Jahnavi, another name for the goddess Ganga. News of his vision spread throughout the community, and when the priest then visited the site, he found that it looked exactly like his dream.
Every year since, barefoot pilgrims have trekked to the lake at the time of Maha Shivaratri, helped along the way with local people offering food and moral support. Upon arrival, they leave gifts and offerings by the lakeshore and the huge stature of Shiva.
Not far from the Ganda Talao can an impressive statue of the god Shiva be admired, which is a faithful copy of the Shiva Statue of Sursagar Lake in Vadodara, Gujarat India. The stature is 33 meters high and is known to be the highest statue in Mauritius.
No one knows for sure, but the lake is believed to be around 15-20 meters deep and holds a large and healthy population of fish and eels. It is though strictly forbidden to fish in the lake, due to its sacred nature.