Despite being a major draw for the ruralfolk for ages, not many Agraites, let alone tourists, are aware of the Bateshwar Mela that takes place in a village outside the Taj City every year.
Now, the UP tourism department has decided to promote the rural-religious fair, a month before it kicks off in November.
Likening it to the Pushkar Mela, the promotion has begun with a vivid description of the extravaganza on the tourism department’s website.
“The fair provides a colourful, vibrant and entirely authentic glimpse of rural Indian life. Bateshwar Fair is one of the largest fairs in the Northern India. It stands similar in style and magnitude to the Pushkar Fair in Rajasthan,” the website says.
The department is now in the process of publishing brochures, which would be kept at the counters of hotels and offices of tour operators in Agra, 70-km from Bateshwar.
“Foreign tourists come in plenty to view the Taj Mahal, and we intend to nudge them to visit Bateshwar too,” says Dinesh Kumar, regional tourist officer, Agra.
The most significant and interesting element of the Bateshwar Mela is the cattleanimal fair, which witnesses buying-selling of animals. “The fair gets large numbers of camels, horses, oxen, elephants, goats and other cattle. Besides, a multitude of tradesmen sell various items like traditional cooking utensils, spices, locally made furniture, handicrafts and cosmetics,” Kumar adds.
The dates for the month-long fair are fixed according to the lunar calendar.
This year, it will kick off on November 6 and end on December 3. While the first half of the fair is dedicated to animals, the second half is for the village fair.
Arun Dang, secretary of UP Hotel and Restaurant Association and past-president of Tourism Guild of Agra, says: “The area certainly is promising with its rural, religious and wildlife attractions.”
“Bateshwar i s close t o Shoripur, the birthplace of Jain saint Neminath, and Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary, known for its crocodile farm, too is just 10-kms away. Projecting it as UP’s Pushkar Mela would certainly draw tourists,” he adds.
Bateshwar village, situated in the scenic Chambal ravines, houses an ancient temple complex and is considered an important spiritual and cultural centre for Hindus.
The place is named after the presiding deity of the region— Bateshwar Mahadev (a form of Hindu deity Shiva) and consists of over 100 temples, lined along the crescent shaped curve of the Yamuna riverfront.