Hindus traditionally regard river confluences as auspicious places. Like the Sangam and the Triveni in Allahabad, where the Yamuna, the Ganges and the River of Enlightenment, the mythical Saraswati converge.
The Sangam is known as Tirtharaja, the “King of Tirthas“, and the Kumbh Mela, once every twelve years, is the greatest and holiest of all.
The Maha Kumbh Mela - the “Great“ Kumbh Mela - is the largest religious fair in India, attended by millions of people. According to legends, Vishnu was carrying a Kumbh (pot) of amrit (nectar), when a scuffle broke out and four drops were spilled. They fell to earth at the four Tirthas of Prayag, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain. The event is commemorated every three years by the Kumbh Mela, held at each tirtha in turn; the Sangam is known as Tirtharaj, the ‘King of Tirthas’ and here the Kumbh is held once in every twelve years, which is the greatest and holiest of all. The mela (fair) is especially renowned for the presence of an extraordinary array of religious ascetics – sadhus (ascetic holy men) and mahants - enticed from remote hideaways in forests, mountains and caves. The sadhus, who see themselves as guardians of the faith, approach the confluence at the appointed time with all the pomp and bravado of a charging army.