Ramkund 'Shahi Snan' begins amidst tight security
Amidst unprecedented security, sadhus began the first Shahi Snan (Royal Bath) in Ramkund, as part of the Kumbh Mela, which came to this holy city after 12 years.
According to legends, Lord Ram stayed at Ramkund during his 14-year exile.
The banks of Godavari river were filled with millions of curious onlookers as the sadhus of three akhadas belonging to Vaishnav sect came in a colourful procession to take the holy dip.
Wielding swords and riding horses and elephants, the sadhus belonging to Nirvani akhada led by Shivanandan Das and Gyan Das entered the river at 9:15 am, 45 minutes behind schedule.
Their long procession from tapovan began from Lakshmi Narayan temple with a huge police force accompanying it.
They were followed by Digambar Akhada led by Mahant Keshav Das, Narayan Das and Nritya Gopal Das, who took over as the president of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas after the death of Mahant Ramchandra Das Paramhans.
The staunch followers of the akhadas frolicked in the water as loudspeakers blared the chants "Siyavar Ramchandra Ki Ki Jai" and "Hare Ram, Hare Krishna".
The weather was pleasant as the rain gods kept the date with the holy dip with sporadic drizzle.
The Digambar Akhada entered the Ramkund at 10:25 am, followed by Nirmohi Akhada, whose procession covered the ancient Ganga-Godavari temple, built in 1818 AD, which opens once in 12 years for the Kumbh Mela.
Once the Nirmohi Akhada finishes its holy bath, the banks of the majestic Godavari river will be thrown open around noon for the millions of pilgrims who have converged here from all over the country.