It is a happy confluence of science and faith.
The sangam in Allahabad — the site of the ongoing Ardh Kumbh Mela where the Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati rivers meet — has shifted westwards by about 900 metres.
Dr Ramesh Singh, a professor of civil engineering at IIT-Kanpur, and PhD student Anup Prasad analysed Landsat satellite data for 1975, 1990 and 2000 to prove that the confluence has moved.
Sadhus say the shifting of the site is auspicious and a good omen for mankind. Quoting the Padma Puran, an ancient Hindu text, Dr Girija Shastri of the Allahabad-based Jyotish Karmakand Evam Adhyatam Shodh Sansthan, an astrology research centre, said that a dip at the sangam when it flows westwards washes off the sins of a billion years.
"The shift is clearly visible. We have never seen it before," he added.
Singh said satellite data showed the distinct change in the Ganga's course as well as the confluence point. He said the Ganga that flowed east-west at the north of Allahabad suddenly changed course towards the north-south direction. There is no change in the course of the Yamuna.
He said the shifting of the confluence could be due to either of two reasons — active tectonics in the Allahabad region and the river 'load', that is, obstructions to the flow of the river.