- Over 12 crore expected at Kumbh Mela this year
- Elaborate security steps are in place along bathing ghats and elsewhere
- Kumbh Mela, was recognised as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO
In an electrifying setting, thousands of pilgrims took a dip at Sangam - the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and the mystical Saraswati - at daybreak as the Kumbh Mela officially started today on Makar Sankranti. The Kumbh is the largest congregation of pilgrims in the world; over 12 crore are expected this year.
About 13 akharas are participating in the "Shahi Snan" (royal bath) today, with each being allocated about 45 minutes by the Kumbh administration. The Sanyasi akhara was the first to begin the 'holy dip' this morning.
Due to the huge number of people expected, the Uttar Pradesh administration has restricted the entry of vehicles, other than those required for essential services, near the Kumbh Nagari, sprawling over 32,000 hectare.
Elaborate security arrangements are in place and pontoon bridges have been constructed to lead the visitors to the five-kilometre bathing ghat at Sangam. Security personnel have been deployed at all entry and exit points of these bridges to maintain order.
#WATCH Hindu seers and saints head towards Sangam Ghat for a holy dip in river Ganga on the occasion of first ‘Shahi Snan' at #KumbhMela2019 in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj (Early morning visuals) pic.twitter.com/9PBx4yBODE— ANI (@ANI) January 15, 2019
Fifteen state government departments, 28 central government departments and six union ministries are managing the Kumbh Mela this year. The UP government has allocated Rs 4,200 crore for the Ardh Kumbh, more than thrice the budget of the Purna Kumbh in 2013, which occurs every 12 years.
Union minister Harsh Vardhan, yesterday, launched a special weather service for the Kumbh Mela, which includes four automatic weather stations. The weather stations will provide information of the prevailing weather and forecasts for the next three days, the minister said. A mobile app named 'Kumbh Mela Weather Service' has also been developed to disseminate the live weather information on temperature, humidity, rainfall and winds.
The streets of Prayagraj, earlier known as Allahabad, are a riot of colours and lights, with artists putting up murals in the backdrop of bhajans and shlokas playing on loudspeakers. The Kumbh Mela, which runs until March 4, was recognised as an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2017.