The biggest gathering of humanity on Earth
Millions of Hindu pilgrims have arrived in the Indian city of Allahabad as the Kumbh Mela festival gets underway.
On Monday thousands began bathing at the point where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers converge, with up to ten million more set to do so over the coming days.
The event, which takes place once every 12 years, is billed as the biggest gathering of humanity on Earth.
During the 55-day festival more than 100 million people are expected to visit the city.
In 2001, more than 40 million people gathered on the main bathing day of the festival, breaking a record for the biggest human gathering.
Hindus believe that taking a dip during the festival will rid them of their sins and help them achieve salvation.
Fourteen temporary hospitals have been set up with 243 doctors deployed round-the-clock, and more than 40,000 toilets have been built for the pilgrims.
Police checkpoints have been set up on all roads leading to Allahabad and about 30,000 policemen and security officials have been deployed to provide security during the festival.
By Sunday night, tens of thousands of men, women and children had set up camp on the white sands of the river front.
Smoke could be seen rising from hundreds of small fires which people had built to cook dinner or keep warm.
The main attraction at the festival is the Sadhus – Hindu holy men – who have been leading processions accompanied by elephants, camels, horses, chariots and music bands in recent days.
awesome display of human organisation..bigger than mecca..the hindus and their holy men..bong on people..to each their own..