I am sure that growing up each one of us has heard about the stories of the very famous and talked-about Kumbh Mela, where hundreds and thousands of people come together at a great religious affair and families get separated on occasion.
Well, that doesn’t happen in the modern world, now tourists and visitors are provided with top-notch securities and arrangements. But hey, do you actually know the importance and meaning of Kumbh Mela? I am sure very few of you must be familiar with the same.
This year also, the Ardh Kumbh Mela took place in Prayagraj, popularly known as Allahabad, held at the Triveni Sangam- the meeting points of the holy rivers, Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati.
So, I have recently been to this marvelous festive fair and got to know a lot about the place thus, decided why not share this intellectual piece of knowledge, some main features, and highlights of the Kumbh will all you. If you are traveling to India there are other religious places too where you can visit and explore real India. So, come and let’s take a read through.
The History Behind this Largest M
Before we get started with the history of Kumbh Mela, let’s first understand what actually this word mean? Well, Kumbh means a vessel of Amrit or in other words, the nectar of eternal life. According to Hindu Mythology, it is believed that a Kumbh with Amrit was found by both Gods and Demons during Samudra Manthan. They both wanted to have it.
During the fight, in order to take the Amrit from the demons, Garuda (vehicle of Lord Vishnu) took the pot and flew away. During this flight, the nectar of life spilled in 4 places: Haridwar, Ujjain, Prayag (Allahabad), and Nashik that ultimately made all these places and the rivers flowing in the respective cities holy. Since then the Kumbh Mela got started and is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm.
Did you know?
Well, there are no exact dates but the first historical records of this massive event can be discovered in the accounts of the famous Chinese traveler, Hiuen Tsang, who came to our country during the ruling period of King Harshavardhan. He did not mention the Kumbh Mela but talked about a ritual fair organized by King Harshavarshan where a huge number of devotees took a dip at the Sangam of two rivers in Prayaga.
When to visit Kumbh Mela?
The event never takes place at the same time of the year but on specific dates when the water of the holy rivers is believed to turn into nectar. The correct dates of Kumbh Mela are decided by taking the positions of Sun, Moon, and Jupiter into account.
Usually, the month of Magh in Allahabad is considered for organizing the Kumbh Mela because the planets are in the right position. It is also believed that devotees who take a dip during this time help to clean their sins. This year, the best promising days were 14 and 27 January, 6, 15, 17, 21, and 25 February.
The Shahi Snaan
It is said that in the earlier days, Sadhus used to get involved in killings in order to protect their religion. Thus, they believed the only way to cleanse them of this sin would be taking a holy dip in the sacred rivers.
Triveni Sangam at Prayagraj is the place where one can go and take a bath in the river. On the day of Shahi Snaan or Rajyogi Snaan, the first holy men follow the rituals and take a dip in the river before any common man.
The Snaan is considered one of the important rituals of the Kumbh Mela that starts the early morning at 4:00 am. You’ll get stunned to see the will power of the devotees who are ready to bathe in the river during the early morning time and too that in the freezing weather. These millions of devotees happily go through the pain in the name of spiritual belief.
The Naga Sadhus
This is the best time of the year and surely the best place that allows you to see the Naga Sadhus, who have turned their backs on all materialistic things, luxuries and pleasures of life. These holy men definitely pain a lifelike picture at the Kumbh. They are the most faithful devotees of Lord Shiva who are often seen with coils of matted hair and naked bodies covered with the holy ash. Also, you’ll see them carrying a trident crowned with human skulls.
Yeah, they look ferocious but actually, they are most the non-violent group of people who barely have human contact and are never seen in the public except in the Kumbh Mela. They too participate in the rituals to make their soul free from sins. If you wish or may be interested, you can discuss their views, philosophies, and ideologies and they’ll happily talk about the same.
Things to do in Kumbh Mela
The beginning of the massive festive event is marked by Peshvai and people from all over the world are greeted. On this day, big groups of saints arrived and a yatra is carried in the glory of this auspicious mela. Check out some of the fantastic events and things you can do when in Kumbh Mela.
There’s nothing better than watching and learning about the rich culture of our country. You can visit this very famous fair that includes 5 major pandals of series with different events. There, you’ll be witnessing some really amazing musical performance and traditional folk dances regularly from the day the mela get started. Also, those who wish to have a spiritual experience, they can visit the Pravachan Pandal.
When in Kumbh, do not miss having a water boat or ferry experience because this is one such activity you can try to appease your mind and soul. Inland Waterways Authority of India does a fantastic job and allows you to take ferry ride close to the Sangam Ghat in the Yamuna River. The ferry ride starts from the Sujawan Ghat and then it moves towards the Boat Club Ghat and finally ends at the Kila Ghat. Well, indulging the serene water boat ride also allows you to watch many sites of the ghats.
The government has also installed thematic gates that not only allows you to roam around the fair comfortably but also makes the fair aesthetically appealing. If you visit the place, you’ll see that the gates are installed strategically and every gate has its own unique identity, thus making these cultural creations more amazing.
Laser Light Show
This year, the government has introduced a unique laser and sound theme at the site, in order to make the festive fair much better than the previous years and allow the visitors to experience something new. Having such kind of show at a religious event is something unexpected that ultimately makes it a must-have experience. Go ahead and try out this laser light show and if possible do your bookings in advance in order to avoid any hassle.
Make sure you participate in the tourist walks because the activity has a special significance and let you explore different parts of the including some famous temples and forts. Tourists who visit Allahabad have the opportunity to get into the Sangam Walk where they’ll be visiting the Bade Hanumanji Temple, Ram Ghat, Akshya Vat, and Patalpuri Mandir. Not just this, Prayaga Walk is another top attraction for the visitors where they’ll get a chance to visit Public Library, Swaraj Bhawan, and Allahabad Museum.
How to Reach Kumbh Mela?
Remember there’s no direct flight to your destination (Kumbh Mela). The Allahabad Domestic Airport is only workable for the domestic flights that connect to a few cities of the country. Whereas, Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport in Varanasi and Amausi International Airport in Lucknow is a much better option, connecting to main cities across the country. You need to take a cab from the airport to reach the Kumbh Mela.
For your information, there are 10 main railway stations that connect Allahabad to the major cities of the country. You can pick the best option for yourself that allows you to get into a smooth journey till Allahabad. Some of the railway options include Allahabad Junction, Prayag Junction, Allahabad Chheoki, and Naini Junction. The best part of taking the train as the mode of transportation is that some temporary railway stations are made accessible to help pilgrims reach the Mela with great convenience.
Allahabad city is the central point that connects to the major highways and national ones in order to reach Ujjain. There are a few routes you can opt for to reach your destination that includes NH2 running across the city, NH27 which leads to Mangawan in Madhya Pradesh. Whereas NH96 and NH28, connect you to two main cities of Allahabad and Ayodhya. If not this, one can even go for interstate or tourist buses.
So, this was all about the tremendous affair, Ardh Kumbh Mela. The city of Allahabad never sleeps during this massive festive fair and I am sure you’re going to have the best time here, thanks to those calm rivers, glittering ghats, and pleasant weather.