The month-long Simhastha (Kumbh) mela, largest congregation of Hindus began in Ujjain early today with the arrival of Juna Akhara for the royal bath on the banks of Kshipra river for the holy dip.
Large number of 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 every 12 years at Ujjain, which is also the abode of Lord Mahakaleshwar, one of the 12 Jyotirlings in the country. All the 13 Akharas of saints and seers will take dip one after another for which elaborate arrangements were made along the banks of Kshipra river.
Ujjain is fully geared up to host the month long Kumbh Mela, during which over five crore people including seers are expected to visit the holy 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 huge 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 said last evening on the eve of the mela.
Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh also took 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 successfully taken out their procession in the city which was accorded grand welcome by the people.
"Around five crore devotees are expected to take part in the Kumbh mela on the banks of pious Shipra river for which security has been ramped up in every nook and cranny of the district," said Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ujjain Range, Madhu Kumar. At present, 22,000 security personnel, including the state policemen, personnel from central forces and other departments have been deployed, he said. "At the time of Shahi Snan (royal dip) in Shipra river, 25,000 security personnel will keep a watch at the Mela venue," Kumar added.