Held in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Thal Fair or Thal Mela is one of the most important commercials fairs after Jauljibhi Fair. Thal Mela is held every year during Baisakhi at the small town of Thal in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. The small town of Thal is situated on the banks of Ramganga about 50kms northwest to the district headquarters.
Significance of Thal Mela
Thal Mela is celebrated every year during Baisakhi at Thal. Thal marks the confluence of the paths towards the four places of Bageshwar, Pithoragarh, Askot, and Johar. The meeting point of the four paths is marked by a famous temple dedicated to Lord Shiva which finds its mention in Skanda Purana. Skanda Purana says that devotees traveling towards Kailash-Mansoravar should take a holy dip at Ramganga River and pray at Baleshwar and worship Lord Shiva. Visiting this temple of Lord Shiva while traveling towards Kailash Mansoravar. In the earlier times, Thal Mela was held during Vishwat Sankranti too.
History of Thal Fair
The fair is said to have begun in the year 1940 by the nationalists of Thal village in memory of the infamous Jalianwala Bagh massacre.
It started being celebrated every year and cultural and commercial aspects to the fair started emerging. People from the neighboring regions brought regional products at a large amount which made Thal Fair a hub for trade. The fair was initially held for 1-2 days which extended to 10-15 days for the smooth trade. Due to the huge popularity and the commercial success of the fair, traders from as far as Nepal would visit Thal Fair to sell their products. Apart from products, animals of good breeds were also traded in the fair.
Thal Fair had a great cultural significance too. Traditional songs and dances by artists from the regions of Kali Kumaon, Saur, Gangotri, and western Nepal among others were performed during the fair. The local singers would sing famous regional songs, dancers would entertain the people with their lively moves, and orators would recollect local tales and stories and liven up the atmosphere of the fair. During this time, Thal Mela was celebrated on Vishwat Sankranti too.
Present status of Thal Fair
Due to better transport facilities and infrastructural developments in the region, goods from different regions reach Thal village with ease and on a consistent basis. This has significantly reduced the commercial importance of Thal Mela. The celebration of the fair has been reduced to 3-4days. However, Thal Mela is still significant as a cultural fair where regional music and dance is promoted.