Allahabad: Maha Kumbh Mela, often described as the "greatest show on earth", is all set to begin today in Allahabad, with millions of people from across the country as well as abroad expected to attend the religious gathering.
The Mela, held every 12 years, will go on for next two months and will conclude on Maha Shivaratri on 10 March.
Expecting a turn out of about 1.1 crore people to take holy dip today on Makar Sankranti, the administration has put in place elaborate security arrangements to thwart any kind of terrorist activity, prevent stampedes or any other type of law and order challenge.
The administration are expecting a nearly 10 percent rise in pilgrims attending the mass Hindu pilgrimage this year compared to the previous Maha Kumbh held here in 2001.
Exceptionally large crowds are also expected on Mauni Amavasya (10 February, 3 crore) and Basant Panchmi (15 February, 1.9 crore).
Besides, spiritual leaders like the Dalai Lama, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Baba Ramdev and Asaram Bapu, also have planned their visits.
The huge turnout of people, visits of high-profile gurus in addition to the presence of naga sanyasis have increased the pressure on police and administration for smooth functioning of the Kumbh Mela.
"More than 7,000 personnel of central paramilitary forces, including companies of the Rapid Action Force and the National Disaster Response Force, have been pressed into service," IGP (Allahabad) Alok Sharma, designated as the nodal officer for security arrangements during the Maha Kumbh, said.
Updated Date: Jan 14, 2013 08:56:34 IST