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

  • Leah Millis / Reuters

    Top 25 News Photos of 2021

    Powerful images from the past 12 eventful months

  • Jack Taylor / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Santa School, Snowy Soccer, Dinosaur Lantern

    A stranded whale in Chile, a graffiti competition in Spain, an empty Christmas market in Prague, a lighthouse above Lake Superior, a presidential campaign in Gambia, and much more

  • © Marco Gaiotti / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    People’s Choice: Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021

    The Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest is inviting the public to vote for their favorite image, selected from a group of shortlisted entries.

  • NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team

    2021 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar

    Every day until Saturday, December 25, we’ll present one new image of our universe from NASA’s orbiting telescope.