The solar eclipse cast its shadow over the bustling Kumbh Mela bringing it to a standstill, with even the temples closed till the afternoon on Friday.
There was no rush at the various ghats for bathing as the rare celestial event played out.
At 3.11 pm, when the eclipse ended, it was as if someone had opened the floodgates to salvation. Thousands of people broke into song and dance as they headed for holy dip on the auspicious Mauni Amavasya. Devout Hindus believe that taking a dip in the Ganga on this day ensures moksha (freedom from birth-death-birth cycle).
“This is amazing,” said Alex, 32, an architect from Australia as he clicked pictures.
Since midnight, the main temple Brahm Kund in Har-Ki-Pauri, the main bathing site, was locked and barricaded.
“What is this?” shouted Vikas Kaushik, a businessman from Gurgaon in Haryana, as he argued with security guards to be let through the barricades to enter the temple.
The familiar sound of the conch shell was missing and the priests were absent. The daily Ganga arti (prayer to river Ganga) too was not performed.
Stray announcements on the public address system apart, the only sound that could be heard was that of the swirling waters of the gushing Ganga.