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 ←/→.
Jump to Comments

Most Recent

  • Altaf Qadri/AP

    Photos of the Week: 1/17-1/23

    This week we have scenes of India's preparation for Republic Day, a new image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from ESA's Rosetta spacecraft, a Chinese home-made mechanical horse, K-Pop hopefuls in Seoul, a volcano that has been creating a new island near Tonga, and much more.

  • Kin Cheung/AP

    A Bioluminescent Bloom in Hong Kong

    A bloom of Noctiluca scintillans, a large, green marine dinoflagellate that exhibits bioluminescence when disturbed, shows an eerie glow along the seashore in Hong Kong.

  • NASA

    A Look Back at Apollo 16

    In early April of 1972, NASA was preparing to launch the Apollo program's 10th manned mission, Apollo 16—the fifth to actually land on the Moon.

  • Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters

    The Bahraini Uprising, 4 Years Later

    Bahrain's anti-government protests, violently put down in 2011, continue in different forms to this day. Opposition leaders face jail time for speaking out, while protests continue on the streets.

Join the Discussion