The month-long Simhastha (Kumbh) mela, one of the largest congregations of Hindus, began in Ujjain on Friday with the arrival of Juna Akhara for a royal bath on the banks of Shipra river.
People from different corners of the country have converged in the holy city for the Simhastha mela, which is being held here after a gap of 12 years. Ujjain is also the abode of Lord Mahakaleshwar, one of the 12 ‘jyotirlings’ in the country.
All the 13 Akharas of seers will take bath one after another for which elaborate arrangements were made along the banks of Shipra river.
Ujjain is fully geared up to host the mela, during which over five crore people, including seers, are expected to visit the city, with Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan saying it will be a “Green Simhastha”.
“Over five crore pilgrims are expected to visit Ujjain and other holy places during the fair, for which elaborate security and logistical arrangements have been made, including shifting of police forces from various districts to Ujjain, one of the 12 jyotirlingas and the abode of Lord Mahakaleshwar,” Chouhan had said last evening on the eve of the mela.
Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh also took a bath at Gaughat on the opening day of the Simhastha.
This time, eunuchs have also set up their ‘akhara’ in the mela area and have taken out a procession in the city which was accorded a grand welcome by the people.
At present, 22,000 central and state security personnel have been deployed.
“At the time of Shahi Snan (royal dip) in Shipra river, 25,000 security personnel will keep a watch at the Mela venue,” Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ujjain Range, Madhu Kumar said.