Allahabad: Braving the winter chill, thousands of Hindu devotees Monday took the holy dip at the Sangam (the confluence of the three rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati) on the first day of the 44-day long Magh Mela.
The crowd count is expected to reach more than 25 lakh pilgrims over the course of the day.
District officials said elaborate arrangements have been made for the event and 12 ghats (a flight of steps leading down to a river) have been erected to ensure that the pilgrims do not encounter any problems while they take their holy dip.
Hundreds of Kalpavasi's (loners) would be residing at special camps and tents constructed for them on the sprawling 1,550 bighas of land on the banks of the Sangam.
Over 70,000 camps have been constructed, an official told IANS while adding that 12 power sub-stations would ensure 24x7 power supply to the mela area.
85 km of chequered plates have been laid to level the uneven portions at the banks and the temporary pontoon bridges for the convenience of the devotees.
The Shahi Snan's (royal baths) will take place Monday (Jan 5), Makar Sankranti (Jan14), Mauni Amavasya (Jan 20), Basant Panchami (Jan 24), Magh Poornima (Feb 3) and the final bathing (Feb 17) on the occassion of Maha Shivratri.
More than 3,000 policemen including traffic personnel, mounted police and other security agencies are keeping a vigil in the mela area.