The city of Uttar Pradesh’s Allahabad is all set to host its first Kumbh after its recent rechristening as Prayagraj. Kumbh Mela 2019 promises to be a grand spiritual event and millions will throng from around the world at the holy confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. Kumbh 2019 is being organised from January 15, 2019 to March 31 2019.
In order to begin the Kumbh Mela on an awe-inspiring note, a grand procession called Peshwai (Praveshai) is carried out in the city beckoning pilgrims from around the world to join in the festivities.
Sadhus and monks from all over India and the world reach the Mela grounds riding elephants, horses, with carriages and bands in tow. Monks from different akharas mark their arrival with great enthusiasm and fervour.
More than 12 crore pilgrims are expected to visit Prayagraj during Kumbh Mela 2019. For the convenience of the devotees, 1500 traffic signages have been set up for place identification, caution, road names and markings.
The Government of Uttar Pradesh has undertaken efforts to beautify the city to welcome the pilgrims and tourists, with a special focus on street art covering more than 20 lakh square feet area all over Prayagraj.
The Prayag Kumbh is held in the month of Magh, as per Hindu calendar, when Jupiter is in Aries, and Sun and Moon are in Capricorn — or Jupiter is in Taurus, and Sun in Capricorn. Known to attract the largest gathering of people anywhere in the world, the mela area is spread over thousands of hectares around the Triveni Sangam.
Shahi Snan is the main highlight and most important part of the celebration. Millions of pilgrims take a dip in the holy waters at the Triveni Sangam on the Shahi Snan days. There are six Shahi Snan days this year — 15 January (Makar Sankranti), 21 January (Paush Purnima), 4 February (Mauni Amavasya), 10 February (Basant Panchami), 19 February (Maghi Purnima), and 4 March (Mahashivratri).
Kumbh Mela is organised four times over a 12-year cycle, based on specific set of astrological positions of the Sun, the Moon, and the Jupiter. Other than Prayag, it’s Hardwar, Ujjain and Nashik-Trimbakeshwar that host the celebration in rotation. Prayag Kumbh is however different to the others. The tradition of long-term Kalpvas — a one-month period starting from Ekadashi of the full moon in the Paush month up to Maghi Ekadashi the next month — is practised only in Prayag.
The Inland Waterways Authority of India is organising ferry services on the Yamuna near Sangam Ghat. The route followed is Sujawan Ghat to Rail Bridge (Naini Side) to Boat Club Ghat to Saraswati Ghat, ending at Kila Ghat.
A tent city is being set up to facilitate the stay of tourists. As many as 4,200 premium tents are being pitched on a PPP model. This tent city will also serve as the hub of cultural events during the Kumbh Mela and pandals are being set up for the purpose, besides the convention halls being built across the mela area.
To facilitate movement of tourists, a comprehensive traffic management plan is in place. Pilgrims coming by road can enter Prayagraj from seven main routes — Jaunpur Marg; Varanasi Marg; Mirzapur Marg; Rewa-Chitrakoot Marg; Kanpur Marg; Lucknow Marg; and Pratapgarh-Ayodhya Marg.
Those rake the rail route can get down at Allahabad Junction, Naini Junction, Cheoki Junction, Allahabad City railway station, Jhunsi railway station, Prayag Junction and Phaphamau Junction to reach Prayagraj. E-rickshaws, autos are shuttle bus service are available at all these stations for the pilgrims to make the onward journey.