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The Maha Kumbh Mela Festival

The Maha Kumbh Mela is an age old hindu festival where monks, babas, sadhus and gurus gather together in special places where the holy rivers flow. In a 12 year cycle ,they change the festival location every 3 years. The most important of these is held on the nearly dry riverbed of the Ganges river, near Allahabad, India, where they will build an enormous tent city for the 6 week event.

According to both ancient mythology and modern astronomy, as the planets align every 12 years, the Hindu Monks, Sadhus and Babas of northern India will come together to dip in the Sangam, the meeting of three great rivers, the holy Ganges river, the Jamuna river and the mythical Saraswati river.

Many people will travel to Allahabad, India to take a dip in the rivers and to meet with so many Sages, Saints, Sadhus and Gurus… to receive their blessings, to cleanse their karma and to heal their souls.

The Experience of a Lifetime!

Since my first mela in 1983, I have been to so many and have always felt amazed. I just wanted to share my experiences…
I’m not a tour guide or travel agent, I just know the Mela…

The melas are held in four places, always near a river, in a three year rotation. The largest of gathering is in Allahabad every 12 years and it’s always in January. The Maha Kumbh happens when the planets are in a maximum alignment. There is also a smaller mela in the 6 years between, called the Ardh Kumbh and there is even a smaller fair held every year, called the Magh mela. You should go there and see for yourself…

In addition, I would like to share with you my experiences, and the experiences of those who joined together for the 2001 mela and helped me to create our own camp site, the Jaga Shanti Camp.

I trust I will see you all in next Mela in 2025…

Kumbh Mela Facts

Astrological significance is behind the 12 year timing of the festival and also aligns with the Chinese Lunar calendar.

Festival Details

Location Allahabad, India
Date held every 12 years
Celebrating planets aligning
Scale 36 million in 2013
Origin before the 5th century

In 1989 Maha Kumbh Mela

I camped in the festival for about a month. Exploring in every direction… The energy was extreme and miracles were happening all the time. Like meeting someone you know in a crowd of millions with no street signs or any plans. Normal here…

Is Going to the Kumbh Mela Very Expensive?

The festival is totally free in every sense. By simply showing up you may find a place to stay, make many good friends, however always use caution, as you explore the Mela, be aware, be happy and be careful. I have seen cheap airfare from US for about $500 rt. You can easily travel here and become part of this spectacular event!

One man shows us how cheap a day at the mela can be in his video. He manages only Rs.280 ($4) and explores from the train station and around the festival grounds. Quick tour, but cheap. click here

Another fellow, on a tour with Lonely Planet Magazine shares his journey through this year’s festival. click here

Satellite Photo of the Mela

Taken on January 23rd, 1989. You can see the concentration of people on the upper bank, near the confluence and the row of boats that are lined up along the visible merger of the Jamuna (left) and the Ganges (top). The actual Sangam is where the three rivers meet.
Special Thanks to SPACEPIX (www.spacepix.com) for this image.

For more Mela Facts, click here.

Facts About the Mela

∆ The mela is held in the almost dry riverbed of the Ganges River and in the surrounding area.

∆ The festival has been getting larger each time it happens. In 1989 the were 16 million people on the main day to watch the procession of monks and in 2001 there were 24 million people on the main day, and in 2013 there were 36 million people gathered.


∆ The mela has it’s own police station, fire station, post office, hospital, etc. and they rebuild them every 12 years.

∆ Many scholars, including R. B. Bhattacharya, D. P. Dubey and Kama Maclean believe that the samudra manthana legend has been applied to the Kumbha Mela relatively recently, in order to show scriptural authority for the mela.[6]

There were over 10.000 security staff at the 2001 mela.

First mention of the mela

The first recorded history of large groups of people holding a religious gathering here came from the dairy of a Chinese traveler dating back to 500 AD.

Significance of the Location

Known as “Trivani”, the conflunce of three great rivers. Written of in the ancient scriptures. Near the modern day city of Prayag or Allahabad.

Amazing Features of the World’s Largest Spiritual Gathering

It is a religious bathing festival of enormous size where monks, pilgrims, and religious devotees will come from around India and the world to gather for a historical moment. They come to experience the essence of their culture and to participate in the largest spiritual gathering of humanity, the Maha Kumba Mela.

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A View into an Ancient World

These stories are told in song and acted out in dance dramas where children play the many parts.

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Dipping in the Ganges River

These places acquired a certain mystical power, people believe, after bathing there one attains moksha.

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Connecting with the monks

Some say that simply by associating with the monks and spiritual people, it helps your energy get more clear.

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Practicing a daily Sadhana

Daily prayer, meditation, chanting, association with Saints and bathing in the Ganges river help us connect.

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Many religious discussions

There are many talks between sects of Hinduism, including the branches of Shaivism and Vaishnavism.

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Free for all attendees

The cost of a visiting the mela is for food and shelter. Many Ashrams welcome visitors for a small fee.

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Gallery of Allahabad

Gallery (Click Here)

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Gallery of Gods & Goddesses

Gallery (Click Here)

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Gallery of Ganesha

Gallery (Click Here)

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GALLERY OF 2001 MELA

Gallery (Click Here)

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Gallery of Video files

Gallery (Click Here)

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Gallery of 2013 Mela

Gallery (Click Here)

Creating a Tent City

During the month long festival, the monks build a temporary tent city of over a million people. Then during the special days, when the planets align, they have several massive parades to the river to take a dip.

By doing this at the special time, in this special place, they clear their karma away… Many millions of devotees come to see the parades and during this time the crowd can swell to be tens of millions of people. The estimate for 2013 was 36 million on the main day.

Only With their Cooperation

It began when the Devas (Angels) and the Asuras (Demons) decided to cooperate and churn the primal ocean. 

Created Nectar as a Result

They were seeking the various secrets that lay hidden within it’s depths, including the nectar of immortality.

The Churning of the Ocean

The samudra manthana (Sanskrit: समुद्रमन्थन, lit. churning of the ocean) is one of the best-known episodes in the Hindu philosophy narrated in the Bhagavata Purana, in the Mahabharata and in the Vishnu Purana. The samudra manthana explains the origin of amrita, the nectar of immortality.

The Myth of the Kumbh

The story behind the myth of the Maha Kumbh Mela comes from the Vedic scripture called Srimad BhagavataIt began when the Devas (Angels) and the Asuras (Demons) decided to cooperate. They formed this alliance to jointly churn the primal ocean for the various secrets that lay hidden within it’s depths, including the nectar of immortality.

They planned to share all the gifts, with each group receiving a gift in turn. However, Vishnu told the Devas that he would arrange for them alone to obtain the nectar. 

The medieval Hindu theology extends this legend to state that while the Devas were carrying the amṛta (nectar of Immortality) away from the Asuras, some drops of the nectar fell at four different places on the Earth: Haridwar, Prayaga (Prayagraj),[3]. Trimbak (Nashik) and Ujjain.[4]

ln another version: According to astrologers, the ‘Kumbh Fair’ takes place when the planet Jupiter enters Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries. According to mythology , ‘Devas’ (angels) and ‘Asuras’ (demons) churned the ocean to obtain Nectar and when the coveted ‘Kumbha’ of Nectar (Amrita) which gave immortality was obtained, one of the ‘Devas’ (Garuda) whisked away the ‘Kumbha’ away from the ‘Asuras’ and evading the ‘Asuras’ only, stopped at these four holy places. Hardwar, Prayag, Nasik and Ujjain before he finally arrived into the safety of heaven.

Only With their Cooperation

It began when the Devas (Angels) and the Asuras (Demons) decided to cooperate and churn the primal ocean. 

Created Nectar as a Result

They were seeking the various secrets that lay hidden within it’s depths, including the nectar of immortality.

The Churning of the Ocean

The samudra manthana (Sanskrit: समुद्रमन्थन, lit. churning of the ocean) is one of the best-known episodes in the Hindu philosophy narrated in the Bhagavata Purana, in the Mahabharata and in the Vishnu Purana.

The samudra manthana explains the origin of amrita, the nectar of immortality.

 A few drops of Nectar are supposed to have spilled over on the water at these four places and sages, saints and piligrims started periodically to flock to each of these ‘Tirthas’ to celebrate the divine event.

If you want to see the movie version, think Bollywood now. (4:50) Shiv Mahapuran Episode 7, The Churning of the Sea. click here

Just to Get a Blessing from a Monk

The monks are purifying their minds and bodies by performing many different rituals that will help them to achieve their spiritual goals. During the month long festival they bathe in the Ganges River, meditate and exchange spiritual doctrines, comparing different points of view. This has remained unchanged for over a thousand years…

Understanding Hindu Gods

Hinduism tells us a story of a time when the gods and the demons agreed to a truce in their war, so together they could perform a ritual of churning the ocean of milk. They would share the rewards that were magical gifts, but the last reward was a golden kumbh (pitcher) filled with the nectar of immortality and the gods didn’t want to share…

The gods tricked the demons and stole the nectar passing by the earth on their way to heaven. A few drops of the nectar fell into the 4 holy rivers in India, including the Ganges River. The festival of Kumbh Mela is a celebration of these drops and the people come to take a dip in the river wishing for a touch of immortality.

What Hinduism Means today

The monks are purifying their minds and bodies by performing many different rituals that will help them to achieve their spiritual goals. During the month long festival they bathe in the Ganges River, meditate and exchange spiritual doctrines, comparing different points of view. This has remained unchanged for over a thousand years…

Bathing in the Ganges River

It is said, the act of bathing in the Holy Ganges River will cleanse ones karma of sins and clear their way to the higher realms of heaven.

Significance of the Location

Known as “Trivani”, the conflunce of three great rivers. Written of in the ancient scriptures. Near the modern day city of Prayag or Allahabad.

About me

Since my first mela in 1983, I have been to so many Maha Kumbh, Ardh Kumbh and Magh Melas and have always felt amazed and blessed. I’m not a tour guide or travel agent, I just know the Kumbh Mela…

Frequent flyer

I have been to India 11 times so far including 3 Maha Kumbh Melas. I have also been to Amarnath, Manali, Gangotri and Uttar Kashi.

My Teacher Taught Me Well

I have been studying meditation and spirituality since a very young age. I met my Guru in ’74, when he taught me Gayatri mantra.

In 1989 at Age 22

(left) As a videographer, filming 1989 Maha Kumbh Mela was the most amazing spectacle in the world. I was filming the festival from a boat on the Jamuna river. So much energy and so much love here!

(center) Canteen, camera and tripod… I was at the festival over a month. I met some of the most amazing Gurus, including the 240 year old baba.

(above) I stayed at the Gita Prachar camp with my Dome tent. Living with the monks, families and children that were part of the Ashram.

In 2001 Maha Kumbh Mela

I had about 100 guests staying with me in the Jaga Shanti Camp during the 2001 Maha Kumbh. There were writers, photo journalists and film makers. Everyone was having fun

Is the mela for me?

The festival is totally free in every sense. By simply showing up you may find a place to stay, make many good friends, however always use caution, as you explore the Mela, be aware, be happy and be careful. You can easily travel here and become part of this spectacular event!

Jaga Shanti Camp

After my first Maha Kumbh mela in 1989, I was naturally overwhelmed. I could see how amazing it was, but it was also hard for a western mind to wrap around what was happening here! OK, not hard, impossible!

So I created my vision to have a camp for westerners that would be safe, comfortable and would also help people avoid the confusion I had felt. I could see it was an impossible dream, especially for an american to be able to make it happen. And it happened, 12 years later in 2001…

Kumbh Mela Facts

The science behind the Maha Kumbh timing is fascinating. The astrological significance is visable when you look…

Kumbh Mela Stories

This unbeleivable story begins with the Gods and the Demons fighting high in the heavens. A great visionary told…

Ready for the 2025 Mela?

The next mela is coming…

What to Bring along

The first recorded history of large groups of people holding a religious gathering here came from the dairy of a Chinese traveler dating back to 500 AD.

Where to Stay

Known as “Trivani”, the conflunce of three great rivers. Written of in the ancient scriptures. Near the modern day city of Prayag or Allahabad.

Check the Video Archives

Here is a video I shot on my 2013 trip.

Here is my India and Nepal documentary that I shot on my 1982 trip… Look for the Kumbh Mela segment and join my Guru, on the Jamuna, telling the kumbh story.

Here are 2 short videos I shot on my 1989 trip…

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