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

  • Ezra Acayan / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Giant Boar, Ice Music, Patagonian Glacier

    A bull-taming festival in India, icy purification in Tokyo, locusts in Ethiopia, illuminated hats in Switzerland, a coming-of-age ceremony in Tokyo, bushfires in Australia, and much more.

  • Franck Fife / AFP / Getty

    Photos From the 2020 Dakar Rally

    Images of some of the 560 competitors taking part in a 12-day, 4,660-mile (7,500-kilometer) off-roading adventure held entirely in Saudi Arabia this year.

  • © Greg Lecoeur / Ocean Art

    Winners of the 2019 Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest

    Some of the top images from the 16 categories of underwater photography in this year’s competition.

  • Ezra Acayan / Getty

    Photos of the Eruption of Taal Volcano

    Hundreds of thousands of residents within a 10-mile radius of the volcano are now being evacuated.