The mood is almost festive in this Bihar village and people, young and old, can no longer contain their excitement over Wednesday's total solar eclipse, a celestial spectacle that is drawing scientists and tourists alike from across the world in Taregana.
The phenomenon will be best glimpsed from the humble environs of Taregna, which has suddenly hit national and international headlines. The eclipse has also brought about a spurt in development - the village now has temporary toilets, repaired roads and uninterrupted electricity supply to impress visitors.
"We have been waiting for days, now we want it (the solar eclipse) to happen soon," said Dhananjay Singh, a teacher in a private school who has been asking his students not to miss the event.
Singh told IANS that most school students of the village, about 35 km from state capital Patna, have been taught about the importance of Taregna in view of the total solar eclipse and its historical connection.
Taregna has an ancient connection with astronomy, having been one of the two places used by 6th century Indian astronomer-mathematician Aryabhatta for his celestial studies. It is believed he was the first to announce that the earth revolves around the sun after his marathon research in an observatory at Taregna.
"I never dreamt that Taregna will be in the limelight one day. It is all thanks to a total solar eclipse after NASA declared it the best place to watch," said Mithlesh Kumar, a college student.
A group of people were talking excitedly at a tea shop under a tree near Taregna railway station and on approaching them it became clear that they too were discussing the eclipse and how scientists are coming from different parts of the world to study the phenomenon.
"It is not just us, everybody is talking about the solar eclipse and the coming of scientists. This has never happened before," Chandeshwar Yadav, a milkman sitting amongst the group, said when asked about their conversation.
"It will be a memorable day for residents of Taregna because scientists, researchers and even Chief Minister Nitish Kumar are expected to arrive here to watch the solar eclipse," said Manzoor Ahmad, a businessman.
"We have never seen such arrangements and preparations by the state government in our lifetime. The officials are busy day and night to make the place clean," said Bhuneswar Paswan, a resident of Taregnadih near the mound where, it is said. Aryabhatta's observatory tower once stood.
The total eclipse, starting a little after sunrise, is expected to last three minutes and 48 seconds at Taregna. According to the NASA forecast based on satellite imagery, the sky over the region is likely to be less cloudy than at other places in the 250-km wide path of the total solar eclipse. So it may offer one of the best views of the celestial phenomenon.
The Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation has decided to set up a special counter at Taregna to provide all possible facilities. The departments concerned have been assigned the tasks of setting up temporary public toilets, repairing the road, providing round-the-clock power supply as well as bringing out a pamphlet on the village.
The state government is also providing a pair of special goggles at a minimal price to view the eclipse.