Top Things to Do in Grand Bassin, Mauritius

How to visit Grand Bassin?

Planning to visit Grand Bassin during your stay in Mauritius?

And you are right!

The sacred lake of Grand Bassin (also called Ganga Talao ) is one of the essential visits to do in Mauritius.

Located in the south of the island in a mountainous region, it is a spiritual high place for Mauritians of the Hindu faith .

There is a soothing and spiritual atmosphere that you will not find anywhere else on the island.

In Grand Bassin, you will feel transported to India and discover impressive statues and Hindu temples around a lake nestled in an ancient crater.

So how to visit Grand Bassin aka Ganga Talao in Mauritius? What are the things to do and see in this special place?

Follow the leader!

Grand Bassin: the sacred lake of Mauritius

To fully enjoy your visit to Grand Bassin, it is important to know the context of the place! I explain to you:

Grand Bassin or Ganga Talao: the history of this unique place

When you find yourself in Ganga Talao, imagine the huge volcano that once stood in the place of the lake.

Because yes, Grand Bassin is a natural lake formed in an old volcanic crater.

It obtained its quality of sacred lake at the end of the 19th century, when a Hindu priest passing through Mauritius shared his vision: the waters of Grand Bassin come from the Ganges, the great sacred river of India.

Since then, Grand Bassin has become the emblem of Mauritian Hinduism and the most sacred place in Mauritius for the Hindu population. It was then baptized “Ganga Talao” which means “Lake of the Ganges”.

According to legend, it was the god Shiva who once filled the crater with the holy water of the Ganges.

This is why Grand Bassin is the meeting place for Hindus during the festival dedicated to Shiva: the Maha Shivaratri, which takes place every year in February or March.

On this feast, thousands of devotees go on pilgrimage to Grand Bassin on foot from their homes to reach the sacred lake , sometimes walking for a week.

Tradition has it that they carry “kanwars ”, sorts of altars made by themselves and decorated with flowers, bells and representations of Hindu gods.

If your trip to Mauritius takes place at the beginning of the year, you may have the opportunity to meet pilgrims on the roads and witness all the fervor that ignites the island on the occasion of this event.

By visiting Grand Bassin at this time, you will enjoy the festive atmosphere of the place and can attend offerings and religious ceremonies  by the lake and in the temples.

Where is the sacred bag in Mauritius?

Grand Bassin is located in the southern region of Mauritius, between the Black River Gorges National Park and the Bois Chéri tea plantations .

  • From Grand Baie (North of the island), count 1h10 drive
  • If you leave from Flic-en-Flac (west coast), you will arrive at Grand Bassin in 45 minutes
  • From Bellemare (east coast), you will take a little over 1 hour
  • From Mahebourg (South-East), allow 35 minutes by car
  • From Le Morne (South-West), you will reach Ganga Talao in 40 minutes.

The sacred lake of Grand Bassin is located inland, in an isolated mountainous area, at an altitude of almost 550m.

The climate is quite humid in this region and it is not uncommon to find gray weather or even fog in this part of the island (which adds even more to the mystical atmosphere of the place!).

Tips for your Mauritius itinerary:

Grand Bassin  is only 25min drive from Chamarel! If you want to combine these 2 essential visits to Mauritius, what I recommend is to opt for the guided day trip to the south of Mauritius.

That includes:

  • visit of Grand Bassin
  • Chamarel Geopark ( Earth of the 7 colors + the highest waterfall on the island )
  • a passage by the Alexandra waterfall
  • visit of Trou aux Cerfs (another natural crater)
  • a walk in the Black River Gorges natural park

All this accompanied by your guide-driver who will teach you everything you need to know about these emblematic sites of Mauritius!

This excellent guided tour is in high demand so I advise you to take your places as soon as possible.

To book this excursion, just click here.

What to do and see in Grand Bassin in Mauritius?

Grand Bassin is THE cultural visit to do in Mauritius.

In this place you will be able to soak up the  culture and the Hindu religion of Mauritius visit temples and see impressive statues of deities.

1. Feel very small in front of the gigantic statue of Shiva

You will see it from afar when you arrive on the site: the gigantic statue of Shiva of Grand Bassin in Mauritius watches over the place and welcomes you as soon as you arrive.

From its height of 33 meters, it overlooks the road and the entrance to the lake. You will see: it is truly monumental!

It’s very impressive to see her take shape in the distance, then to reach her feet, where you really feel tiny!

This statue of Shiva is the exact replica of the one in Sursagar Lake in India.

The Mauritian version was erected in 2007.

A few years later, a second equally huge statue was built opposite, on the other side of the road: that of the goddess Durga.

things to do in Grand Bassin
Giant statue of the god Shiva, at the entrance to Grand Bassin

2. Admire the world’s largest statue of a female deity

In Grand Bassin you will be able to contemplate the largest statue of a female divinity in the world!

This is the statue of Durga, goddess of war, which was erected in 2017 and which is also located  just at the entrance to the site.

Literally impossible to miss with its 33 meters high and golden lion!

Shiva and Durga thus frame the long, slender road that leads to the lake and are among the most impressive statues you will see.

Tips for your Mauritius itinerary:

If these 2 statues measure 33m high, it is not by chance! This precise height was chosen for its sacredness to Hindus. Because 33 meters corresponds to 108 feet, “108” being a sacred number in the Hindu religion.

things to do in Grand Bassin
The statue of Durga at Grand Bassin

3. Visit Hindu Temples

It is at Ganga Talao that you will see the largest concentration of Hindu temples in the country.

The temples of Grand Bassin in Mauritius dot the entire perimeter of the lake.

They house many statues and idols. You will have plenty of time to admire the multitude of representations of  GaneshHanumanVishnu and many other deities.

You will also see statues outside the temples, erected on small promontories above the water.

It is not uncommon to witness fruit offerings by the faithful at the foot of these statues.

Tips for your Mauritius itinerary:

If you want to enter the temples, bring something to cover your shoulders before entering if you are wearing a tank top.

Visitors are also asked to remove their shoes before entering the temples, and eating around the lake is prohibited.

things to do in Grand Bassin
One of the many statues in Grand Bassin

4. Sacred Lake of Grand Bassin

Another thing to do in Grand Bassin: the walk around the lake, which will take you to the high point of view.

Take time to walk around the lake, stopping to see the temples and statues, then climb the stairs to reach the highest temple.

From there, you will have a superb unobstructed view of the entire lake and the surrounding landscape.

things to do in Grand Bassin
One of the temples around the sacred lake of Grand Bassin

5. Have a “tika” Drawn

During the visit, you may have the opportunity to observe believers perform prayers, and attend ceremonies in the temples.

Of course, always take care to be discreet so as not to disturb them.

In some temples in Grand Bassin, visitors who so wish are invited to be blessed by a priest.

It is an interesting and pleasant experience to live, even if you are not a believer.

During this quick little ceremony the priest will offer to draw a tika (or “tilak”) on your forehead, this bright red mark often worn by Hindus.

Tips for your Mauritius itinerary:

The tika is affixed to the forehead at the level of the “Third Eye” chakra. It represents the 3rd eye of the god Shiva, symbol of intuition and consciousness.

Bonus: Meet the Monkeys

If you are wondering where to see monkeys in Mauritius, Grand Bassin is where you need to go!

The population of “zakos” (that’s how they are called in Mauritian Creole) who live in the woods around the lake usually come to look for food at the level of the temples.

You won’t have trouble seeing it up close. They often walk around in small groups or as a family and it is not uncommon to see mothers with their babies clinging.

With a mischievous and not very shy temperament, the monkeys do not hesitate to prick a few fruits here and there and feast on the offerings.

Grand Bassin monkeys in Mauritius are an integral part of local folklore. They are very cute and contribute to giving all its charm to this exceptional place.

things to do in Grand Bassin
Grand Bassin monkeys in Mauritius

Visit Grand Bassin in Mauritius: practical information

To better prepare your visit to Grand Bassin, here is the practical information you need to know:

Grand Bassin in Mauritius: timetables

Grand Bassin Lake is accessible all year round,  7 days a week, from early morning until nightfall. The temples are open from early in the morning.

Grand Bassin, Mauritius: what price?

No entry fees to pay! Visiting Grand Bassin is completely free and open to everyone, tourists and believers alike.

When to visit Grand Bassin?

You can visit the sacred lake freely all year round. However, the best time to visit it is of course during the Grand Bassin festival in Mauritius: the Maha Shivartri.

On this occasion, the site is invaded by the faithful in an explosion of songs, movements and colors.

If you plan to go to Mauritius in February or March, you will have the chance to attend this event.

Note that at the time of the festival, the large parking lot at the entrance to the site is packed. The rest of the time it is often empty.

Grand Bassin in Mauritius: visit time to plan

To visit Grand Bassin, allow half a day maximum. The site is not very big and it will not take you more than 2 hours to go around the temples, stroll around the lake and soak up the local atmosphere.

What to see around Grand Bassin?

After or before your visit to Grand Bassin, I advise you to allow time to discover the other places of interest in the area. Here are the must-sees:

Alexandra Falls

Less than a 10-minute drive from Ganga Talao,  Alexandra Waterfalls are worth a stop.

From the visitor car park, follow the path that passes between the trees and then cross the bridge to arrive at the viewpoint which overlooks the waterfall on one side, and the whole of the South of Mauritius on the other.

A wooden belvedere allows you to gain height to enjoy the view even better.

From this observation post, the falls of Alexandra Falls seem quite distant and camouflaged by the vegetation. But it is possible to see them more closely by following the hiking trail indicated by signs just before the bridge.

Allow about 2 hours round trip for this walk that takes you to the waterfall. Bring good shoes and water because it climbs quite a bit on the way back!

things to do in Grand Bassin
View of the south coast of Mauritius from Alexandra Falls


Another must-see in the vicinity of Grand Bassin: Chamarel!

Allow about 25 minutes drive from the sacred lake.

There are so many marvels to discover in this area that I made a complete article about it, to read right here: What to do in Chamarel?

If you don’t have time to go read it right away, I’ll already give you a summary of the main visits to do there:

  • The Earth of 7 Colors, the most famous natural curiosity of Mauritius
  • Ebony Forest Nature Reserve
  • The Chamarel Rhumerie
  • The Museum of Optical Illusions

Tips for your Mauritius itinerary:

To have all the details and better prepare your visit to Chamarel, I invite you to read my dedicated article: Visit Chamarel – The Complete Guide

And don’t forget that if you want to optimize your time, the ideal is to opt for the guided excursion which allows you to visit Grand Bassin + Chamarel + the Alexandra Falls waterfall in one day, taking advantage of the vehicle and explanations from a passionate guide!

Bois Cheri

Before or after going to Grand Bassin, you can go for a walk to the Bois Chéri estate which is only 5km away.

This is where  Mauritian tea is grown and produced , a great local know-how.

In Bois Chéri you can admire the tea plantations as far as the eye can see, visit the tea factory,  the tea museum and enjoy a tasting of… teas!

Tips for your Mauritius itinerary:

If you are interested in the history and manufacture of Mauritian tea, I advise you to plan a day in your stay to do Tea Route!

It is a 3-step tour that takes you to discover 3 emblematic places (including Bois Chéri)  of tea production in Mauritius.

things to do in Grand Bassin
Tea plantations in Bois Chéri

Plaine Sophie Nature Walk

Very close to Grand Bassin you also have the Plaine Sophie Nature Walk just 6 minutes away by car.

This small botanical reserve, little known to tourists, will allow you to take a pleasant walk in the heart of the tropical forest and come across endemic plant and animal species.

Attention: mosquito repellent mandatory!

The Valley of Colors Nature Park

Finally, in the vicinity of the sacred lake of Grand Bassin in Mauritius, do not miss the Parc de la Vallée des Couleurs.

It is less than 10km away  and is the ideal place if you are in the mood for adventure and outdoor activities.

It’s also a great idea for a family activity to do in Mauritius!

In this leisure park in the middle of nature you will have plenty of activities to try:

  • a buggy or jeep excursion
  • 5 zip line courses
  • zipline  by bike!  (Yes yes)
  • zipline over a waterfall 
  • a toboggan descent from the mountains
  • crossing the longest suspension bridge in the Indian Ocean!

And that’s it for this guide to Grand Bassin / Ganga Talao in Mauritius! I hope it will allow you to save time on the preparation of your visit and to fully live the experience!

Feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions or comments. 🙂

And you, when are you planning to visit Grand Bassin in Mauritius?

Are you going to Mauritius? Also to read

Discover all our articles on Mauritius: all our guides are listed here.

Camille L.

Passionate about foreign languages, cooking and writing. I wish to share with you the places, the meetings and the gastronomic discoveries which gave relief to my travels.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button