Actually, rather instinctively, the first time you drive this stretch you want to flag down the driver at every one. Stop! I need a photo. Yet soon enough you realise that with 70% of the Mauritian population Hindu, this intricate detail in it’s varied shade of pastel is a welcome and common sight. As are the little spirit houses with offerings outside many of the homes.
There’s a great charm to it, a spiritual enlightenment that hints of deeper meaning.
Yet the most sacred of all is the Grand Bassin or Ganga Talao, a sacred lake found at about 1800 feet above sea level and just 2km east of Le Pétrin and one of the most important hindu pilgrimage sites outside of India.
According to a legend the crater lake is connected with the holy river Ganges. The god Shiva, the transformer and destroyer, and his wife Parvati were flying around the world in a ship. Shiva wanted to show Parvati the most beautiful places on earth, so they stopped in Mauritius. During the journey, Shiva was carrying the river Ganges on his head, to prevent the earth from floodings. When they wanted to land in Mauritius, Shiva accidently spilled water of the holy river into the crater and this is how Grand Bassin emerged.
There is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and other Gods including Lord Hanuman and the Goddess Lakshmi. My favourite was the solid silver one of below, I don’t know who he is though.
All year round devotees and visitors pay homage, collect water, breaking coconuts and spilling the pure milk on the feet of their gods, leave flowers and coins, gentles kisses before entering the temple for a blessing. The mood is contemplative and sacred. I loved it here.
On a different day we stopped at this Tamil Temple near Grand Baie and had a brief chat with the pujari who welcomed us to have a walk around and take some photos. The detail is incredible and I loved his mix of tradition and modern and his peaceful way.
Not far from Grand Bassin one can admire an impressive statue of the god Shiva which stands as 33 meters tall and I was told, is the tallest statue in Mauritius.
Grand Bassin is one of the highlights of a visit to Mauritius, especially if you’re interested in foreign cultures and religion.
Note: Tourists are welcome but it’s important to note that these are sacred places, dress modestly and behave respectfully. Before entering the temple, remember to take off your shoes. Pics can be taken, but at the smaller temples I found it best to ask permission.
Read more about my time in Mauritius here.