Hindu devotees walk across a pontoon bridge for a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna and the Saraswati rivers, during the Maha Kumbh festival in Allahabad. The death toll from a stampede in a train station rose to 36 today. AP Photo
The Kumbh Mela is often hailed as the largest gathering of human beings at a single venue. And the Maha Kumbh Mela, which will go on till March 10 this year, is even bigger. This coming together of masses of people at a single venue is a photographer’s delight and there are many who now organise group and customised trips to the banks of the Ganges for those looking to capture moments there.
“I was there last year for a photo walk organised by a local organisation. It included a boat ride down the banks to click pictures of people taking the holy dip, and a chance to learn the meaning behind the various rituals performed there. I will never forget it,” says Tejal Deshpande, an amateur photographer, who advises fellow photography enthusiasts to go with a group as there are restrictions on where one can click pictures. In some areas, photography is even banned.
For those interested in making the trip this year, travel agency Thomas Cook offers an opportunity. Their itinerary includes a boat ride to witness the famous aarti ceremony on the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi and visits to camps in Allahabad (known as akhadas) of various sects of sadhus. You can also practice yoga while perfecting shooting techniques at the Ghats and other fair events.
“India’s Maha Kumbh, held once every 12 years, at the confluence of the holy rivers, is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Our unique itinerary revolves around the Maha Kumbh experience, camp sites near the Kumbh, cultural tours of Varanasi and surrounding areas. We have received a number of bookings from residents in UK, Italy, South Africa and South America,” says Surinder Singh Sodhi, senior VP, Thomas Cook India Ltd.
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Call 098113 19428
Thomas Cook: 6609 1685 / 6609 1686 / 6609 1688
Indian Photo Tours: Call 99109 03636 /98101 44788
Vedic Odyssey: Call 99467 50249
Major bathing days remaining
February 21: Bhisma Ekadashi Snan
February 25: Maghi Purnima Snan
March 10: Mahashivratri