Thousands of pilgrims took the holy dip on Makar Sankranti at the confluence of the Ganga and the Bay of Bengal, and offered prayers at the Kapil Muni temple here on Thursday.
The pilgrimage is taking place amid strict COVID-19 health safety protocols and a large number of volunteers and police personnel have been deployed to ensure people follow the guidelines, officials said.
Braving cold and fog, pilgrims from different parts of the country came out of their camps early in the morning to take the holy dip at the confluence. However, officials said that this time, a lesser number of pilgrims have come to Gangasagar due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The timings of the holy dip this year is from 6.02 am on Thursday to 6.02 am on Friday, according to the Hindu calender.
The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday had allowed the Gangasagar Mela to be held this year while asking the West Bengal government to pursue pilgrims to opt for 'e-snan' (e-bathing) to avoid crowding for the holy dip in view of the pandemic.
The Director of Health Services of the state government has in a report to the high court said that the risk of COVID-19 transmission through bathing in flowing water like in a river or saline water in sea is extremely low. It was also stated in the report that as a measure of precaution, pilgrims are allowed to go for a dip in a staggered manner maintaining safe distance between one another.