Facts: The Kumbh Mela

Being inside the Kumbh Mela festival is unlike any other experience in the world. Feeling the crowd, but not feeling crowded. Feeling excited and peaceful at the same time…

The temporary city is built on the large open sandy river bed, after the waters of the Ganges have gone down to almost a trickle.

Satellite Photo of the Mela

In this Satalite View of the 1989 festival you can see the rows of tents in the different camps and the streets and bridges crossing the Ganges. The Ganges River is very low in January and is only about 1000 feet across. Normally, it is about 2 miles (3 km) across at this point.

Taken on January 23rd, 1989. You can see the concentration of people on the upper bank, near the confluence and a 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.
To see a larger view of it, click here.

Some Mela Facts

∆ This gathering has been going on in one form or another since the 5th century A.D.

∆ 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, in 2001 there were 24 million people, in 2013, 36 million people were gathered on the main day.

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

∆ Over 10,000 security people in the 2001 Maha Kumbh Mela.

∆ 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]

Page Contents

Satellite Photo
Location Allahabad
Mela History
Indian History

Population Growth
Past Dates
Tent City
Mela Organization

Festival Details

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

Kumbh Mela Facts

Astrological significance is behind the 12 year timing of the festival, firstly the planets are aligned and secondly, it also aligns with the 12 year Chinese Lunar calendar.

Location of the Maha Kumbh Mela Festival

 During the Maha Kumbh Mela, a giant tent city is erected there, below the great red fort at Allahabad, India.
On this vast open plain, the multitudes will come together to live, pray, and celebrate.

Near Prayag, a Holy City

The Kumbh Mela festival is located by the banks of the Ganges river also known as “Trivani”, the conflunce of three great rivers. It is written of in the ancient scriptures. Near the modern day city of Prayag or Allahabad, India.

You can get there on a night train from New Delhi or you can fly to Benares and take a two hour taxi. If you look on an India map, you can see where the Ganges and the Yamuna rivers meet, this is where the festival is held.

Allahabad Photo Gallery

Click here to see old photos of Allahabad

History of the Maha Kumbh Mela Festival

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.

In the Beginning…

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. In the diary, he described thousands of people coming to the opening day of the month-long festival hoping to be blessed with some of the wisdom of the Gurus. This year is the largest Mela ever to be held. It is said to have taken place here every twelve years going back for countless centuries.

Many Flow into it…

Some come to bathe in the holy rivers, while others come to make offerings for the peaceful afterlife of their dead ancestors. Often, they arrive with a small bundle of some of their most needed personal effects or a small statue of their most sacred deity. Whatever their purpose is, individuals often simply want a chance to share in the experience. Soon, families and whole villages join together creating new relationships and strengthening old ones.

Clean Your Karma…

Hindus believe that one of the ways to gain merit or “good karma” is to go on pilgrimage to some holy place at least once in a lifetime. According to the ancient myth, the huge river bank beside the city of Allahabad, also known as “Prayag”, is one such place. During Kumba Mela, a giant tent city is erected below the great, red fort at Allahabad. On this vast open plain, the multitudes will come together to live, pray, and celebrate.

History of India’s Road to Independence

Thanks to National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C.

The Roots of Indian Culture

The Roots of Indian Culture

2500 B.C. to 232 B.C.

The Indus Valley, or Harappan, civilization emerged about 2500 B.C. as a sophisticated urban society with a system of writing and measurements. A thousand years later, Aryans brought from the north a culture and rituals that later became a basis of Hinduism. About 320 B.C. the Maurya family took power influenced by the statecraft of Alexander the Great. Their empire peaked between 273 and 232 B.C. under Ashoka, who made Buddhism the state religion. Pillars and boulders inscribed with his royal edicts still stand.

Gupta Empire

Gupta Empire

320 A.D. to 647 A.D.

The classical period of Hindu art, literature, and Science (A.D. 320 to 647) took root during the Gupta dynasty, reaching its peak during the reign of Chandragupta II (A.D. 375 to 415). Building on the campaigns of his father, Samudragupta, he extended his influence farther southward. The Gupta rulers promoted Brahmanism, an early form of Hinduism, throughout their realm. Though the last strong Gupta king, Skandagupta, held off the invading Huns in the fifth century, the empire soon collapsed.

Sultanate of Delhi

Sultanate of Delhi

500 A.D. to 1500 A.D.

One invading force after another plagued and plundered India from the 5th to the 13th centuries, an era of political turmoil and shifting boundries. As Islam spread, a Muslim sultanate was established in Delhi in 1206. lt soon expanded south, absorbing many Hindu kingdoms, including the domain of the powerful Yadavas dynasty. In 1526 Babur, a Muslim chieiftain from Central Asia, defeated the last Delhi sultan and established the Mogul Empire that would shape the subcontinent for the next 200 years.

Mogul Empire

Mogul Empire

1500 A.D. to 1700 A.D.

In the 1500s Europeans began vying Arab merchants for India’s sea routes. Europeans established ports like Goa and Pondicherry and made trade agreements with powerful Mogul emperors such as Akbar, Ruling from 1556 to 1605, he set a tone of religious tolerance; his son and grandson presided over an era glorious in art and architecture. Great-grandson Aurangzeb expanded the empire, which held as many as 150 million subjects at its height before ebbing after his death in 1707.

British Expansion

British Expansion

1700 A.D. to 1947 A.D.

Taking advantage of the lack of central power in the 1700s, the British East India Company began taking over much of the subcontinent, manipulating conflicts between local rulers and imposing taxes. It’s strategy is illustrated by the 1799 partition of the state of Mysore. The company gave some territory to princely states, gaining political influence in exchange for protection, and it claimed the rest of the state for itself. In 1857 sepoys, or Indian soldiers, rebelled against social and religious indignities. Civil discontent spread the Indian Revolt, suppressed in 1859.

Road to Independence

Road to Independence

1947 A.D. to Today

Britain seized control of the East India Company’s holdings in 1858. Indians became increasingly critical of British rule and it’s inequality. After World War I, political activist Mohandas Gandhi sent out a cry for independence through nonviolent disobedience, and millions answered. In 1940 the Muslim League, afraid of a Hindu run government, called for an independent Muslim state. After massive riots between Muslims and Hindus in 1946 and 1947, Indian and British leaders agreed to partition the country; in August 19th 1947 India and Pakistan gained independence. In 1971 Muslims in East Pakistan broke away to form of Bangladesh.

Peoples of South Asia

Thanks to National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C.

India Population Density

View of India from Space

Astrological Significance of the Maha Kumbh Mela

When the planets have reached their maximum alignment, the gathering begins at the banks of the holy Ganges, Yumana, and Saraswati rivers. Check out the Lunar Eclipse on Jan. 9th and the alignment of the planets on Jan. 24th. Thanks to Stargazer software.

Astrological Timing of the Total Lunar Eclipse

Check out the Lunar Eclipse in 2001 on Jan. 9th and the alignment of the planets on Jan. 24th.

This Eclipse that was near the Beginning of the 2001 Maha Kumbh Mela.

Here is another Elipse that was was near the end of the 1989 Maha Kumbh Mela.

Significant Dates of the Various Maha Kumbh Melas

The dates are determined by the astrological alignment of the planets. There are 4 locations as shown in the chart below.


Mela Dates
Prayag near Allahabad Trimbakeshwar near Narsik Ujjaini Hardwar near Rishikesh
1983 Ardh Kumbh* (my first mela!) Kumbh Mela
1984 Magh Mela
1985 Magh Mela
1986 Magh Mela Kumbh Mela
1987 Magh Mela
1988 Magh Mela
1989 Maha Kumbh*
1990 Magh Mela
1991 Magh Mela
1992 Magh Mela Kumbh Mela Ardh Kumbh
1993 Magh Mela
1994 Magh Mela
1995 Ardh Kumbh Kumbh Mela
1996 Magh Mela
1997 Magh Mela
1998 Magh Mela Kumbh Mela
1999 Magh Mela
2000 Magh Mela*
2001 Maha Kumbh*
2002 Magh Mela
2003 Magh Mela Kumbh Mela
2004 Magh Mela Ardh Kumbh
2005 Magh Mela
2006 Magh Mela
2007 Ardh Kumbh* Kumbh Mela
2008 Magh Mela
2009 Magh Mela
2010 Magh Mela Kumbh Mela
2011 Magh Mela
2012 Magh Mela
2013 Maha Kumbh*
2014 Magh Mela
2015 Magh Mela
2016 Magh Mela Kumbh Mela
2017 Magh Mela
2018 Magh Mela
2019 Ardh Kumbh Kumbh Mela
2020 Magh Mela
2021 Magh Mela
2022 Magh Mela Kumbh Mela
2023 Magh Mela
2024 Magh Mela
2025 Maha Kumbh



The Kumbh Mela is held in each city in 3 year rotation, repeating every 12 years. As you can see there is a “small” Magh Mela every year in Allahabad during the month of Magh (mid January – mid February). The Ardh (half) Kumbh Mela is held at both Allahabad and Hardwar. The Maha Kumbh Mela is only in Allahabad, once in 12 years (next in 2025).

Kumbh Mela 1998 Hardwar Main Bathing Days

Holy Days
Makar Sankranti 14th January 1998
Mauni Amavasya  
Basant Panchami 1st February 1998
Magh Purnima 11th February 1998
Mahashivratri 25th February 1998
other dates

05.Chaitra Amavasya28th March ’98 (2nd Shahi Snan)

06.Nav Samvatsar28 / 29th March ’98

07.Ramnavmi05th April ’98

08.Vaishakhi13th April ’98

09.Mesh Sankranti14th April ’98 (Main Bathing Day)

10.Vaishakh Amavasya26th April ’98

11.Akshaya Tritiya29th April ’98

Kumbh Mela 2001 Allahabad Main Bathing Days

Holy Days
Paush Purnima  9th January 2001 Tuesday
Makar Sankranti 14th January 2001 Sunday
Mauni Amavasya 24th January 2001  Wednesday
Basant Panchami 29th January 2001 Monday
Magh Purnima 8th February 2001 Thursday
Mahashivratri 21st February 2001 Wednesday

Kumbh Mela 2003 Trimbakeshwar Main Bathing Days


Holy Days
DwajaRohan July 30th, 2003
Pratham (first) Snan : Shravan Pornima (full moon) Aug. 12th, 2003
Dwitiy (second) Snan : MAHA PARVA – Shravan Amavasya (new moon) Aug. 27th, 2003
Tritiy (third) Snan : Bhadrapad Amavasya (new moon) Sept. 10th, 2003
If you are looking for a Renting a Hall/Rooms in Trimbakeshwar for a KumbhMela Please send you full address and the requirement to 

Creating a Temporary Tent City on the Sandy Riverbed

When the planets have reached their maximum alignment, the gathering begins at the banks of the holy Ganges, Yumana, and Saraswati rivers. Check out the Lunar Eclipse on Jan. 9th and the alignment of the planets on Jan. 24th. Thanks to Stargazer software.

The Maha Size of the Event

The festival grounds fill the 2 miles wide of Ganges river bed and goes about 5 or 10 miles upriver. Almost 10 to 20 square miles. Naturally, the Kumbh Mela also spills into the nearby area a mile each way…

As the Tent City Begins…

As work on the tent city begins, streets and boulevards are created, each of the groups are given an area of land to build upon and the construction begins. Most of the structures are built of bamboo and rope covered with canvas . There are many small tents everywhere with almost a million people living together. Very large tents used for meetings of hundreds or thousands. Some are the size of a large Convention Center. Power lines are put then on polls and water lines are laid down in ditches and buried over.

As the Tent City Evolves…

On both sides of the river bank there begins to arise a great city. There are shops and markets near each of the major intersections. Some groups are building elaborate entry ways with neon flashing lights. If you come to the Mela early you can see it change from an open river bank to a complete thriving city, it is amazing.


The Time of Your Life

In order to hold an event of this scale, can you imagine the preparations that are made, and the precautions that must be taken to ensure the public safety? Earlier in this century, when the monks were responsable for organizing the mela, there was a terrible disaster. Hundreds of people died in a flood, that washed away parts of the river bank. Then, in 1954, the government stepped in and took control of organizing the mela. Since then they have created many systems for accomodating the masses that are still a part of the mela today.

The Requirements of a City

Imagine the size of New York, temporarily erected for one month. Basic needs like water, toilets, and electricity must be provided for up to 20 million people, simple people, many of whom have no money and little education. A hospital is staffed with volunteer doctors and provisioned by medical supplies. Post office and telegraph stations offer the fastest possible communication in and out of the Mela. A central police station serves as organizational center for a force of up to 10,000 police officers. An elaborate system of monitoring traffic and crowds has been established, using observation towers, radio and even closed circuit television.

Who is in Charge Here?

One of the most contested issues of government sponsorship of the festival has been the assignment of specific locations to each ashram or spiritual group. Ashrams with strong government connections often will receive preferred positions, both in the procession and on the grounds. Preferred positions are those closest to the sangam, or main bathing area. This point, at which the three rivers Jumna, Saraswati, and Ganges meet, is considered the most auspicious location for taking a dip. This poses problems for those whose tradition might require daily bathings, and who might travel up to ten miles per day to bathe, just because their assigned camping area is far upriver.

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