Nashik, July 13 (IANS) Nashik is all set to host the Simhastha Kumbh Mela 2015 — after a gap of 12 years — from Tuesday.
The traditional flag hoisting by priests will be held close to the Godavari river, Nashik Municipal Corporation deputy mayor Gurmeet Bagga told IANS.
Tens of thousands have already started coming to Nashik. According to officials, free community kitchens will start operating soon.
By the time the mega event ends on September 25, millions would have poured into Nashik and the nearby temple town of Trimbakeshwar, one of the sites of the 12 Jyotirlingas where too the Kumbh takes place.
“We have created fully equipped 250 acres of parking lots for around 100,000 vehicles, around 10 km on the outskirts of Nashik,” Bagga said, giving details of the preparations.
From there, pilgrims will commute in public buses and then walk the final two kilometres towards the bathing ghats.
On the days of ‘Shahi Snan’ (Royal Bath), only public buses will be permitted in the city, Bagga told IANS.
In order to manage crowds better, separate routes have been earmarked for mendicants, pilgrims and official staff. Exceptions would be made in the case of the elderly, the sick and VVIPs.
The ghats have been segregated so as to cater to pilgrims coming from southern, northern, western and eastern routes to avoid overcrowding, said Bagga.
For instance, people arriving from Mumbai or Ahmedabad will proceed to the ghats earmarked for them.
“Each group of pilgrims will have three-four ghats to take the holy dip, spread over 15 km of the river bank,” Bagga said.
An official spokesperson for the Nashik Kumbh Mela said this year more than 10 million pilgrims were expected from India — and around the world.
Around 500,000-800,000 pilgrims are expected on each day of Shahi Snan – August 29 and September 13 and September 18.
“On other days, we expect 75,000-100,000 pilgrims daily,” Bagga said.
The daily pilgrim inflow into Nashik and surrounding areas during non-Kumbh days is around 20,000.
The municipal corporation, in coordination with temple trusts, has made arrangements for free feeding of around half a million people daily during the Kumbh period, Bagga said.
The preparations for the event started in 2011 with the Maharashtra government, civic bodies and others spending over Rs.2,300 crore to set up infrastructure such as roads, flyovers, sewage treatment, CCTV cameras monitoring of venues and bathing ghats and cleaning up the Godavari.
Nashik hosts the Kumbh Mela along with Allahabad (Prayag), Haridwar and Ujjain every 12 years.
The Nashik Kumbh is expected to be a money-spinner with an estimated revenue of more than Rs.10,000 crore — and jobs for nearly half a million people, said a recent Assocham report.
According to Hindu legend, the mythological importance of Kumbh revolves around the churning of the oceans (Samudra Manthan) by the gods and demons to obtain the invaluable jewels (ratna) and nectar (amrit).
Nashik, a bustling modern industrial centre where several MNCs have their plants, has been associated with important ancient dynasties like Mauryan, Satavahanas, Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas and Yadavas.