Grand Bassin (Mauritius): The Definitive Guide


How to Visit Grand Bassin?

Are you planning to visit Grand Bassin during your stay in Mauritius?

You’re certainly making the right call!

The sacred lake of Grand Bassin (also known as Ganga Talao) is one of the must-see sites in Mauritius.

Located in the mountainous region of the island’s south, it’s a spiritual hub for Mauritian Hindus.

Here, an atmosphere of peace and spirituality prevails, unlike anywhere else on the island.

At Grand Bassin, you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to India, encountering impressive statues and Hindu temples surrounding a lake nestled in an ancient crater.

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

Follow the guide!

Grand Bassin: The Sacred Lake of Mauritius

To fully enjoy your visit to Grand Bassin, it’s important to know the context of the place! Let me explain:

Grand Bassin or Ganga Talao: The Story of This Unique Place

As you find yourself at Ganga Talao, picture the immense volcano that once stood in place of the lake.

Yes, Grand Bassin is a natural lake formed in an ancient volcanic crater.

It gained its status as a sacred lake in the late 19th century, when a Hindu priest visiting Mauritius had a vision: the waters of Grand Bassin originated from the Ganges, the great sacred river of India.

Since then, Grand Bassin has become a symbol of Mauritian Hinduism and the most sacred spot in Mauritius for Hindu people. It was hence named “Ganga Talao” meaning “lake of the Ganges”.

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

This is why Grand Bassin is the meeting point for Hindus during the festival dedicated to Shiva: Maha Shivaratri, held annually in February or March.

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

Tradition has them carrying “kanwars”“, homemade altars adorned with flowers, bells, and representations of Hindu gods.

If your trip to Mauritius happens in early in the year, you might get the chance to encounter the pilgrims on the roads and witness the devotion that lights up the island during this event.

By visiting Grand Bassin during this period, you’ll enjoy the festive atmosphere of the place and have the opportunity to witness offerings and religious ceremonies by the lake and in the temples.

Where is the Sacred Lake in Mauritius?

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

  • From Grand Baie (north of the island), expect a 1h10 drive
  • If you’re departing from Flic-en-Flac (west coast), it’s a 45-minute journey to Grand Bassin
  • Starting from Bellemare (east coast), it’ll take you just over an hour
  • From Mahebourg (southeast), plan for a 35-minute car journey
  • Departing from Le Morne (southwest), you’ll reach Ganga Talao in about 40 minutes.

The sacred lake of Grand Bassin is inland, situated in an isolated mountainous area, at almost 550m above sea level.

The climate is quite humid in this region, and it’s not uncommon to encounter mist or even fog in this part of the island (which only adds to the mystical ambiance of the place!).

My Advice

Grand Bassin is only a 25-minute drive from Chamarel! If you want to combine these two must-see visits in Mauritius, I suggest you opt for the guided day tour of southern Mauritius.

It includes:

  • a visit to Grand Bassin
  • and Chamarel Geopark (The land of the 7 colors + the island’s tallest waterfall)

but also:

  • a stop at the Alexandra Falls
  • a visit to Trou aux Cerfs (another natural crater)
  • a stroll in the Black River Gorges National Park

All accompanied by your guide-driver who will teach you everything there is to know about these iconic sites of Mauritius!

This excellent guided tour is in high demand so I suggest you book your seats as early as possible.

To book this tour, simply click the button below:

What to Do and See at Grand Bassin in Mauritius?

Grand Bassin is THE cultural visit to make in Mauritius.

In this place, you can immerse yourself in the culture and Hinduism of Mauritius, visit temples and see stunning statues of deities.

1. Feel Tiny in Front of the Gigantic Statue of Shiva

You’ll see it from afar as you approach the site: the gigantic statue of Shiva at Grand Bassin in Mauritius stands watch over the territory and welcomes you upon arrival.

At 33 meters tall, it looms over the road and the entrance to the lake. And believe me: it’s truly monumental!

It’s quite awe-inspiring to see it in the distance, and then to approach its feet where you feel utterly tiny!

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

The Mauritian version was erected in 2007.

A few years later, a second statue just as magnificent was constructed across the road: that of the goddess Durga.

statue shiva grand bassin
The statue of Shiva at Grand Bassin

2. Admire the World’s Largest Statue of a Female Deity

At Grand Bassin, you’ll get to behold the world’s largest statue of a female deity!

It’s the statue of Durga, the goddess of war, erected in 2017 and also situated right at the entrance of the site.

You absolutely cannot miss it with its 33 meters in height and its golden lion!

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

My Advice

If these two statues measure 33 meters high, it’s not by chance! This specific height was chosen for its sacred character in Hinduism. Because 33 meters corresponds to 108 feet, and “108” is a sacred number in the Hindu religion.

Durga statue at Grand Bassin
The Durga statue at Grand Bassin

3. Visit the Hindu Temples

At Ganga Talao, you’ll find the largest concentration of Hindu temples in the country.

The temples of Grand Bassin in Mauritius spread all around the lake’s perimeter.

They house numerous statues and idols. Take your time to admire the multitude of representations of Ganesh, Hanuman, Vishnu, and many other deities.

You’ll also see statues outside of the temples, erected on little promontories above the water.

It’s not uncommon to witness offerings of fruits by the faithful at the foot of these statues.

My Advice

If you wish to enter the temples, remember to cover your shoulders before entering if you’re wearing a tank top.

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

statue at Grand Bassin
One of the many statues at Grand Bassin

4. Walk Around the Sacred Lake of Grand Bassin

Another thing to do at Grand Bassin: take a stroll around the lake, which will take you up to the elevated viewpoint.

Make time to walk around the lake, stopping to discover the temples and statues, then climb the staircase to reach the highest temple.

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

Grand Bassin lake
One of the temples around the sacred lake of Grand Bassin

5. Have a “Tika” Drawn on You

During your visit, you might have the opportunity to observe believers performing prayers and attending ceremonies in the temples.

Of course, always be mindful to remain discreet so as not to disturb them.

In some temples at Grand Bassin, visitors who wish to do so are invited to receive a blessing from a priest.

It’s an interesting and pleasant experience to have, even if you’re not a believer.

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

My Advice

The tika is placed on the forehead at the “third eye” chakra. It represents the third eye of the god Shiva, a symbol of intuition and consciousness.

Bonus: Meet the Monkeys

If you’re wondering where to see monkeys in Mauritius, Grand Bassin is the place you need to go!

The population of “zakos” (as they are called in Mauritian Creole) living in the woods around the lake is accustomed to coming for food at the temples.

You won’t struggle to see them up close. They often roam in small groups or families, and it’s not unusual to see mothers with their babies clinging to them.

With a mischievous nature and not at all shy, the monkeys don’t hesitate to snatch some fruits here and there and to feast on the offerings.

The monkeys of Grand Bassin in Mauritius are an integral part of the local folklore. They are very cute and add a lot of charm to this exceptional place.

Grand Bassin monkeys
The monkeys of Grand Bassin in Mauritius

Visiting Grand Bassin in Mauritius: Practical Information

To prepare for your visit to Grand Bassin, here are some practical details you should know:

Grand Bassin in Mauritius: Opening Hours

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

Grand Bassin, Mauritius: What’s the Cost?

There’s no entrance fee! The visit to Grand Bassin is completely free and open to all, both tourists and believers.

When to Visit Grand Bassin?

You can freely visit the sacred lake any time of the year. However, the best time to go is definitely during the Grand Bassin festival in Mauritius: the Maha Shivaratri.

During this event, the site is overrun by the faithful in an explosion of singing, movement, and color.

If you plan to travel to Mauritius in February or March, you’ll have the chance to witness this event.

Note that during the festival, the large parking lot at the entrance of the site is jam-packed. The rest of the time it’s often empty.

Grand Bassin in Mauritius: How Long to Visit

To visit Grand Bassin, expect to spend a maximum of half a day. The site is not very large and it will take no more than 2 hours to tour the temples, walk around the lake, and soak up the local atmosphere.

What to See Around Grand Bassin?

Before or after your visit to Grand Bassin, you should allocate time to discover other points of interest in the vicinity. Here are the must-see attractions:

Alexandra Falls

Just a 10-minute drive from Ganga Talao, Alexandra Falls is definitely worth a stop.

From the visitor’s parking lot, follow the path that goes through the trees and across the bridge to get to the viewpoint overlooking the waterfall on one side, and all of South Mauritius on the other.

A wooden lookout provides an elevated position for an even better view.

From this observation point, Alexandra Falls appears quite distant and camouflaged by vegetation. However, you can get a closer look by following the hiking trail indicated by signs just before the bridge.

Allow about 2 hours round-trip for this walk that takes you up to the falls. Remember to wear good shoes and carry water as the return trip can be quite steep!

Southern coast of Mauritius from Alexandra Falls
View of the southern coast of Mauritius from Alexandra Falls


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

It’s about a 25-minute drive from the sacred lake.

There are so many wonders to discover in this area that I’ve written a complete article about it, which you can read right here: What to Do in Chamarel?

If you don’t have time to read it right now, here’s a summary of the main attractions to visit there:

  • The Seven Coloured Earth, the most famous natural wonder of Mauritius
  • The Ebony Forest nature reserve
  • The Chamarel Rhumerie
  • The Museum of Optical Illusions
My Advice

For all the details and to prepare your visit to Chamarel in the best way possible, I invite you to read my dedicated article: Visiting Chamarel – The Complete Guide

And don’t forget, if you want to make the most of your time, the ideal choice is to opt for the guided tour that lets you visit Grand Bassin + Chamarel + Alexandra Falls all in one day, with the convenience of transportation and insights from a passionate guide!

You can book this full-day excursion with a guide-driver by clicking on the button below:

Seven Colored Earth of Chamarel
The Seven Colored Earth of Chamarel

Bois Chéri

Before or after visiting Grand Bassin, you can take a trip to the Bois Chéri domain, located just 5km away.

This is where Mauritius’ famous tea is cultivated and produced, a true local expertise.

At Bois Chéri, you can admire vast tea plantations, visit the tea factory, the tea museum and enjoy a tasting… of teas!

My Advice

If you’re interested in the history and production of Mauritian tea, you should dedicate a day of your trip to take The Tea Route!

It’s a three-stage tour that takes you on a journey to discover three emblematic places (including Bois Chéri) of tea production in Mauritius.

You can already book your guided Tea Route excursion by clicking below:

Tea plantations Bois Chéri Mauritius
Tea plantations at Bois Chéri

Plaine Sophie Nature Walk

Not far from Grand Bassin, there’s also the Plaine Sophie Nature Walk, just a 6-minute drive away.

This little-known botanical reserve amongst tourists offers a pleasant stroll through the heart of the rainforest, where you may encounter endemic species, both plants and animals.

Note: mosquito repellent is a must!

La Vallée des Couleurs Nature Park

Finally, in the surroundings of the sacred lake of Grand Bassin in Mauritius, don’t miss out on La Vallée des Couleurs Nature Park.

Located less than 10km away, it’s the ideal place if you’re looking for adventure and outdoor activities.

It’s also a great family activity in Mauritius!

In this nature-based leisure park, you’ll have plenty of activities to try out:

Travel Insurance for Mauritius: My Advice

My Advice

Many travelers mistakenly believe that healthcare in Mauritius is affordable and that they do not need travel insurance. However, in reality, the public healthcare system is fragile, and even a simple private clinic consultation can be very expensive!

That’s why it’s essential to take out travel insurance before you go that offers strong medical coverage.

For a safe trip, I recommend the following two insurances (both include epidemic coverage, such as for Covid-19, which is very important!)

To sign up, it’s really simple, just click on the orange links below:

And there you have it for this guide on Grand Bassin / Ganga Talao in Mauritius! I hope it will save you time when preparing your visit and allow you to fully experience it!

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

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I've been living in Mauritius for ten years now, and I'm passionate about this jewel of the Indian Ocean. As I love exploring and writing, I have created this blog to give you all my best tips to organize your trip to Mauritius!

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