Kumbh Mela: The Largest Gathering on Earth

Tens of millions of Hindu pilgrims are now descending on Allahabad, India, joining an estimated 8 million already there for the Maha Kumbh Mela. Held every 12 years at one of four places in India, the Kumbh Mela lasts nearly two months and is considered to be an especially auspicious time to bathe in the holy river for purification from sin. In 2001, the last time the festival took place, more than 40 million people gathered in an area smaller than 20 sq km (7.7 sq mi). This year, the predicted number of visitors tops 100 million. Collected here are images from the preparation and first days of the Maha Kumbh Mela, with possibly more to come in the next few weeks.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Yves Herman / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 11/21-11/27

    Winter weather in China, Europe, and the United States,  a Martian panorama, a neighborhood in flames in Manila, demonstrations in Chicago, the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City, and much more.

  • © Julian Ghahreman-Rad / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    Images From the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

    The 2016 Sony World Photography Awards are now taking entries, and the organizers have been kind enough to share some of their early entries with us.

  • Ricardo Moraes / Reuters

    Red Sludge From Brazilian Dam Collapse Reaches the Atlantic

    Earlier this month, on November 5, two dams retaining tons of iron-mining waste in Brazil burst, releasing a massive flood of toxic sludge that has flowed downstream into Rio Doce, spending two weeks making its way several hundred miles downstream, finally reaching the Atlantic Ocean.

  • AP

    Today in History: November 23

    A look at various events that took place on this day, November 23, photographed over the past century. Today’s collection includes a sword-fighting Mussolini, a motorcycle-jumping Evel Knievel, William Shatner dressed as a gun-toting Santa Claus, and much more.

Join the Discussion