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

  • Aris Messinis / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week 7/16 - 7/22

    Unrest in Turkey, a Santa Claus competition in Denmark, virtual reality in Israel, kite running in Rio, and much more.

  • Bernadett Szabo / Reuters

    Bathing in Budapest

    Hot springs at this Hungarian location have been in use since the 12th century

  • John Moore / Getty

    Scenes From the Republican National Convention

    Photographs of the delegates, the demonstrations, and the Donald

  • China Daily / Reuters

    Demolition Day

    Photographs of controlled explosions, blasts, kabooms, and crashes.

Join the Discussion