No Bateshwar animal fair in Agra this year

The 374-year-old animal fair — one of the biggest and oldest in India — will not be held in Bateshwar here this year due to the pandemic. The fair has been held every year since 1646.

Agra District Magistrate Prabhu N. Singh said, “The district council has been informed that permission for organising the Bateshwar Mela cannot not be granted in keeping with Covid-19 guidelines.

“Lakhs of people from across north India visit the fair every year. That kind of gathering cannot be allowed in the prevailing conditions. In public interest, the historic fair will not be organised this year.”

Legend has it that Raja Badan Singh had built a dam to divert the Yamuna so that it would always flow by a temple he built for the presiding deity, Bateshwar Mahadev, an avatar of Lord Shiva.

The temple complex has more than 100 temples dedicated to Shiva, lined up along the crescent-shaped curve of the riverfront.

Bateshwar is also the birthplace of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.