India is a land of diverse culture, heritage, religion, caste and creed. This has resulted in a vibgyor of fairs and festivals being celebrated throughout the year. The Kumbha Mela or the Kumbha Fair is one of the most important Hindu religious occasion. It a feast to one’s eyes and soul to be part of this historical fair which is held in the early quarters of the English calendar.
According to Hindu astrology this fair takes place when the planet Jupiter enters Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries once in every 12 years. Deriving its origin from Hindu mythology this fair is held at Prayag better known as Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, Haridwar in Uttarkhand, Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh and Nasik in Maharashtra.
The occasion is marked with prayers, meditation and by observing other Hindu rituals on the banks of the sacred River Ganga. The festival is visited by a variety of saints from all over India. Prominent among them are the bare bodied, ash smeared Naga Sadhus (saints in Hindi) with long matted hairs.
It is believed that these saints or Sadhus remain unaffected by the extremities of the weather. The other section of Saints of Sadhus include the Urdhavahurs famous for their austere life style, Parivajahas who have vowed themselves into silence and Shirshasins known for standing 24 hours at a stretch and meditating for hours together all the while standing on their heads.
It is believed that a dip in the holy River Ganga during the fair washes away sins and evils thus granting salvation to the devotees. It is also believed that at the time of the Kumbha Yog the water of the holy River Ganga is charged with positive healing effects and electromagnetic radiations of the Sun, Moon and the Jupiter besides the positive and negative signs of the Sun Spots. This varies according to the position and phases of the Moon.
All the four pilgrimage spots are well connected by air, rail and road with good arrangements for accommodation, transportation and are well equipped with medical facilities.
Prayag or Allahabad is situated at the conjunction of River Ganga and Yamuna and is one of the ancient Indian pilgrimage centers. It is also known as Tirtha Raj or the King of pilgrimage centers.
The places of interest in and around Allahabad are Sangam, the place where River Ganga merges with River Yamuna, Allahabad Fort, Patalpuri Temple, Ashoka Pillar and Akshaya Vat. First Class, Economy and Budget hotels are available in Prayag.
Haridwar lies at the foot of the Shivalik range of the Himalayas in the state of Uttarkhand. It is one of the seven holiest places according to the Hindu mythology. The nearest airport is Dehradun and the nearest railway station is New Delhi. There are hotels, lodges, ashrams or hermits and Dharamsalas where tourists stay.
There are a number of bathing ghats or places where pilgrims take the holy dip in River Ganga. The places of interest in and around Haridwar are the Triveni Ghat, Lakshman Jhula, Ram Jhula, Neelkanth Mahadev, Geeta Bhawan, Parmarth Niketan, Rishi Khand and Vasistha Goofa.
Ujjain is situated at a distance of 50 kms from Indore in Madhya Pradesh on the banks of the sacred River Shipra. Ujjain can be reached by air, rail and road. The nearest airport is Indore and the nearest railway station is Ujjain. The city is well connected by road to Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Mumbai, Delhi, Gwalior, Indore, Khajuraho and Mandu.
The places of interest in and around Ujjain are various historical temples, Bhartrihari Caves, Kaliadeh Palace, Durgadas Ki Chhatri, Observatory, Vikram Kirti Mandir, Kalidasa Academy and Sandipani Ashram. A good number of Government and private owned hotels and lodges are available.
Nasik is located on the north western part of Maharashtra at a distance of 185 kms from Mumbai on the banks of River Godavari. Nasik can be reached by air, rail and road from Mumbai. The main tourist attractions of Nasik are Sirdi, Kapaleshwar Mandir, Someshwar and Wani. There are a number of three star and five star category hotels in Nasik.
All these and more Indian culture and tradition can be enjoyed at the next Kumbha Mela scheduled to be held in March/Arpil 2010 at Haridwar. The main bathing dates for 2010 are 14th January, 12th and 13th February, 15th March and 14th April respectively.