Sonepur Mela is one of Asia’s largest cattle fair perhaps world's largest and ancient cattle fair, and is the pride of Bihar. The fair is held on the banks of the river Ganga, at the confluence with its tributary, Gandak. Not only cattle, but different breeds of dogs, elephants, birds and camelsare also sold at this fair. The one month fair takes place on the auspicious dates of Kartik Poornima full moon day in the month of October/November every year. People come from far-away places just to take part in this fair.
he Sonepur Fair is of great antiquity because it has its origins during ancient times. History reveals that Chandragupta Maurya used to buy elephants and horses across the river Ganges. Then it attracted traders from several places as distant as Central Asia. The site of the present fair was originally at Hajipur but shifted to Sonepur during the reign of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. One of the purposes of the people visiting the Sonepur Cattle Fair, apart from the fair, is to take a holy dip and offer puja at the Hariharnath MahadeoTemple. From local folklore it is believed that the Hariharnath temple have been originally built by Lord Rama, on his way to the court of King Janak to win the hand of his daughter princess Sita.
But the most important of all attractions is the one where numerous elephants, beautifully decorated are lined up for sale. The Sonepur Fair is the only one where such a large number of elephants are sold. These are mainly purchased by different forest departments and people involved with logging operations. Apart from elephants, a large number of cattle, a wide variety of animals and horses are also brought to the fair for sale. Nearly all types of animals are bought to the Sonepur mela like dogs, camels, buffaloes, donkeys, ponies, monkeys, chimps, Persian horses, sheep, rabbits, bears, cats, and guinea pigs. All varieties of birds, poultry and fishes are also available.
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