BJP President Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath performed ‘aarti’ at Triveni Sangam in Prayagraj on Wednesday, 13 February.Crores flocked to the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj for the second shahi snan on Monday, 4 February. The day marked the ‘mauni amavasya’.The 49-day Kumbh Mela commenced on 15 January and will end on 4 March. This year, the ‘Ardh Kumbh Mela’ is being held after six years.UP Finance Minister Rajesh Aggarwal said, roughly Rs 2,800 crore has been earmarked for the Kumbh MelaMore than 140 million pilgrims and tourists are expected to attend the mela this yearRepresentatives from 192 countries are slated to attend the mega event(The Quint is now available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)This year’s mela – the Ardh Kumbh Mela – being celebrated after six years, has over 1.22 lakh toilets, 250 km of new roads, 22 pontoon bridges and over 40,000 LED lights. The Ganga Pandal set up at the venue has a capacity of 10,000 people.A tent city consisting of more than 2,000 tents has been set up. The grand event is held in Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik, apart from Prayagraj.Ardh Kumbh is organised on a rotational basis in the four riverside cities of Haridwar, Prayagraj, Nasik and Ujjain. Under the Kumbh-related works, 671 people’s welfare projects have been completed during the last one and a half years under the Prayagraj Mela Authority.What You Need to Know About UP Govt’s Kumbh Mela PreparationsA fire broke out on Monday at the Digambar Akhada premises of the Kumbh Mela, due to a cylinder blast.A police official said that the fire was doused and no loss of life or injury was reported.Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered the fire department and officials in charge of the event to inspect all the camps.A government spokesman told IANS that Adityanath directed the fire department to take all steps to ensure there was no repeat of Monday's episode.Thousands of devotees thronged the Kumbh Mela site, in the wee hours of Tuesday, and took holy dip at Sangam to mark the onset of the Kumbh Mela on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.Elaborate security arrangements are in place and pontoon bridges have been constructed to lead the visitors to the five-kilometre bathing ghat at Sangam. Personnel have been deployed at all entry and exit points of these bridges to maintain order.Union minister Smriti Irani takes holy dip at Sangam.Telecom major Bharti Airtel has announced that it would roll out digital features for Kumbh Mela visitors such as virtual reality, online streaming of events and better internet connectivity.Airtel smartphone customers would also be able to stream the proceedings of the event on the Airtel TV app.“A special channel, dedicated to Kumbh Mela 2019, has been created to on the Airtel TV app to bring all the action excitement from the event to the smartphone screen.” Bharati Airtel in a statementAirtel has tied up with VR Devotee, a devotional content provider, to bring this exclusive content to Airtel TV app, it said.President Ram Nath Kovind greeted devotees and pilgrims as the 49-day long Kumbh Mela commenced on Tuesday, 15 January.“As the Kumbh Mela begins, greetings to fellow citizens and to pilgrims from across the world. The Kumbh is an important part of India’s spiritual and cultural heritage,”president Kovind said via Twitter.“Appreciate efforts of the Union and Uttar Pradesh govts in this logistically massive exercise,” he added.Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted a video on Twitter after the “Shahi Snan” ceremony began, marking the official beginning of the fair.The "Shahi Snan" is considered among the most significant components of the Kumbh Mela, and is supposed to begin at a certain hour.Kinner Akhara or transgender akhara chief Laxmi Narayan Tripathi arrived at Kumbh Mela on Tuesday. Kinner Akhara took 'Shahi Snan' or dip in holy water as a part of the Makar Sankranti celebrations.Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan and state Congress President Sachin Pilot greeted devotees and organisers of Kumbh Mela in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj.Sadhus of 13 akharas (seven Shaiva, three Vaishnava, two Udasina, and one Sikh) who have traditionally participated in the Kumbh Mela, were the first to take the holy bath known as ''Shahi Snan''.Kinner akharas or transgender akhada chief Laxmi Narayan Tripathi also took part in the Shahi Snan' or dip in holy water earlier on Tuesday.The Kumbh Mela, which kicked off early on 15 January with thousands taking a holy dip at the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna rivers and the mythical Saraswati, is seeing numerous sadhus and mystics, whose varied looks and practices are evoking curiosity among those who have descended on this historic city.The by-lanes of Prayagraj as well as the five-kilometre stretch of the bathing ghats is flooded with evoking sights as holy men and seers display their unusual practices in full glory.Seated at one of the tents near the pontoon bridges that lead the visitors to Sangam is a holy man making show of his nearly three-metre long moustache, which he claims to have grown without interruption over the past decade.In Photos: A Glimpse of Prayagraj A Day Before Kumbh MelaA slew of hoardings welcoming devotees to the Kumbh Mela in this historic city of Uttar Pradesh call for the construction of a grand Ram temple at the disputed Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya.Thousands of saints who have descended here from across the country are also making a strong pitch for a grand Ram temple.In their conversations with devotees, as well as in their open addresses, they were heard calling for the intervention of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre.A UP Cabinet minister claimed that the religious congregation being held in Prayagraj is taking place after 350 years as the holy city was renamed Allahabad in the past.Religious Affairs Minister Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary told PTI that it's perhaps for the first time since Independence that proper arrangements (of milk, ghee, food, blankets and firewood) have been made for the seers, ashrams and akharas."Nearly 350 years ago, the name of Prayagraj – considered a prominent centre of Hindu culture and Sanatan Dharma was changed to Allahabad. However, last year, under the leadership of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, it was decided that Allahabad should be renamed as Prayagraj, as mentioned in ancient Indian texts including the Vedas.On 16 October, the Uttar Pradesh cabinet had approved a proposal to rename the historic city of Allahabad as Prayagraj.More than 16 lakh devotees took a holy dip at the Sangam on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti marking the onset of the Kumbh Mela."We were expecting about 10 lakh to come for the dip in the first half of the day, but the numbers have already crossed 16 lakh by 2 pm," an official told IANS.The Akharas that went for the Shahi Snan so far are Maha Nirvani, Atal, Niranjani, Anand, Juna, Avahan, Panchagni, Nirvani Ani, Digambar Ani, Nirmohi Ani and Naya Udaseen. The Akhras that are still awaiting are Bada Udaseen and Nirmala.Soon after midnight, throngs of devotees who have gathered here for the fair from within the country and abroad began proceeding towards the bathing ghats.The Kumbh-2019 is being organised at a time when the volume of water of Ganga is at its highest in the last decade, The Times of India reported.The level of Ganga at Phaphamau, which is the entry point of the Mela ground, was recorded as 77 metre on 14 January, the daily reported citing data provided by the Central Water Commission (middle Ganga-Yamuna sub-division). This level of water stood at 76 metres during the mahakumbh in 2013.Similarly, the level at the venue’s exit point at Chatnag was recorded as 71.95 metre compared to 71.6 metre in 2013.Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Tuesday, 15 January, said 2.25 crore devotees attended the first 'shahi snan' of Kumbh in Prayagraj on Makar Sankranti."About 2.25 crore persons attended the first 'shahi snan' in Prayagraj which is a record. I thank all the visitors, religious leaders, common man and officials for the smooth conduct of the mega event," the CM said in a statement issued here on Tuesday.He said the state government was committed to providing best facilities in the ongoing 'Kumbh' festivities.The railways has started public announcements for Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj in six languages to benefit the non-Hindi speaking passengers which is likely to continue beyond 4 March when the mela ends, a senior railway official told on 16 January.The system, which runs on software specially designed for this purpose, auto-records an announcement, which is then translated by the specially developed software in six languages: English, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannad, Tamil, Malayalam."We realized very early in our preparations for the Kumbh Mela that we would be needing such a multilingual announcement system at the actual time when the Mela would be in progress" said North Central Railway (NCR) spokesperson Gaurav Krishna Bansal.President Ram Nath Kovind offered prayers at the Kumbh Mela on Thursday, 17 January, on the third day of the event. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and Governor Ram Naik were also present at the venue.Akhada Parishad President Narendra Giri told ANI, “After the end of the Kumbh Mela, we have decided that all saints will meet in Ayodhya and the construction of the Ram temple will start.""The BJP is not interested in constructing the Ram temple as they want to keep this issue alive for election." Giri added.Braving intense chill, scores of devotees took a dip in River Ganga in Prayagraj on Monday, 21 January on the occasion of Paush Purnima – the second auspicious bathing day of the Kumbh Mela.From Sunday, 20 January night itself, the Sangam area was buzzing with activities, as devotees started arriving, while security forces maintained a close watch on the movement of pilgrims and visitors in the mela venue.The Purnima or full moon day will also mark the beginning of Kalpwas (the period of austerity) at Kumbh Mela.Elaborating on the significance of Paush Purnima, Swami Adhokshanand said, “Paush Purnima is a significant day for Hindus which falls on the full moon day of Paush in the Hindu calendar. On this day, devotees from different parts of the country assemble at Sangam to take a holy dip. Even Lord Krishna had said that in the Hindu calendar, he represents the month of Paush,” he said.The Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government will hold a Cabinet meeting on the banks of Sangam in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj (erstwhile Allahabad), The Times of India reported.According to the report, the meeting will take place on either on 29 January or 4 February. The ministers are also stated to be taking a holy dip into Ganga.Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on 24 January, said that the government is predicting over 15 crore devotees to flock to Kumbh Mela by the end of the six snan, (holy-dip).“Only two snan (holy-dip) have been performed so far and more than 3 crore devotees already participated in them. I am confident that by the end of all six snan, the Prayagraj Kumbh Mela would have the record of bringing together over 15 crore devotees, Yogi told ANI.Early morning rains brought trouble for thousands of pilgrims at the Kumbh Mela on Friday even as the winter chill intensified in the city and neighbouring areas in Uttar Pradesh.A western disturbance has been bringing scattered rains to the region for the past two days, and Friday's downpour added to the woes as most part of the 'Kumbh Nagar' turned slippery with mud and water logging at many places.Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath and almost all his senior ministers took a dip at the Sangam in Prayagraj following a unique Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, 29 January, at the venue of the Kumbh Mela itself.At the meeting, the BJP-led government approved the construction of the 600-km Ganga Expressway to connect Prayagraj to western Uttar Pradesh in a better way.The state government said the expressway, which will cost Rs 36,000 crore, will be the longest in the world.Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said apart from “all Cabinet ministers” and some junior ministers, sadhus also took the holy dip on the “historic day”.The ministers had travelled from the state capital Lucknow, where the Cabinet usually meets at regular intervals. The meeting was held at the "integrated control and command centre" set up at the sprawling Kumbh Mela venue.Apart from a nod for the Ganga Expressway project, the Cabinet also gave necessary approvals for the Bundelkhand Expressway and the Purvanchal Expressway which have already been announced.(PTI)On the eve of the second shahi snan on Monday, 4 February, crores have reached Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj as the day marks the ‘mauni amavasya’. The third shahi snan will be held on Basant Panchami. Here are some early morning pictures from the ground.Hear from the devotees who travel all the way to Allahabad to take a dip in river Ganga on Mauni Amavasya to understand why this day is important for them.The day began as early as 3 am for scores of devotees who were seen making a beeline for the Sangam – the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati – on foot as entry of vehicles was restricted in the vicinity of Kumbh Nagari, the sprawling 32,000-hectare township that has come up on the banks of the river.“Yeh Kumbh nahi asan bas itna samajh lijiye thanda pani hai aur dupki lagana hai (Mind you, this Kumbh is no easy task, the water is cold and you have to take the plunge),” said Ravish Vajpayee, an aspiring poet, who was just out after taking the holy dip in one of the many ghats.And though ‘mauni' means ‘silent', the chants of ‘Har Har Ganga' and 'Ganga Maiya ki Jai' grew only louder at the break of dawn when Naga Sadhus, a martial order of ascetics who roam naked with ash smeared on their bodies, dancing and singing moved in a procession with religious leaders sitting atop decorated chariots for the holy dip at the Sangam.Many devotees take a vow of silence on this day.Sadhus of 13 akharas (seven Shaiva, three Vaishnava, two Udasina, and one Sikh) who have traditionally participated in the Kumbh Mela will be the first to take the holy bath.A fire broke out broke out in two tents during the Kumbh Mela 2019 on Tuesday, 5 February. The fire is under control and no injuries have been reported.BJP President Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath performed ‘aarti’ at Triveni Sangam in Prayagraj on Wednesday, 13 February, ANI reported.