The Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, apart from playing host to millions of pilgrims braving the winter cold as they take a holy dip and wash away their sins, is also a witness to a lifestyle of luxury for those who can afford it.
An entrepreneur from Varanasi, Avijit Tripathi, has designed a camp that ensures that while pilgrims from abroad concentrate on spiritual pursuits at the time of the holy dip and other rituals, they live in the best comfort when they return to rest.
The camp features luxurious tents perched on stilts that can accommodate up to four people, with a comfortable bathroom and a view of the Sangam (the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers), as well as the Allahabad Fort on the opposite bank.
Guests at the camp can also avail a fine dining experience with international cuisines on order.
"In order to provide a very comfortable and pleasant experience, we have brought the world famous Brownie restaurant with its selection of international cuisines. For the people of Allahabad, we have made an open-air restaurant on a machan (platform), from where you can view the Sangam and the Allahabad Fort. We want that the people who come here take happy memories back with them, and that they take their ritual baths in peace and benefit from it," said Tripathi.
Tripathi plans to add more tents to the camp, some of which will be more rustic yet equally comfortable, and will provide guests protection against the elements.
"We are also setting up a new type of executive tent, which is resistant to all kinds of weather. It can be used in snow and in deserts. We will provide sleeping bags along with the tent, which has never happened before at the Kumbh Mela," he said.
Once every 12 years, tens of millions of pilgrims from India and abroad stream to Allahabad for the Maha Kumbh Mela at the point where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers meet with a third, mythical river.
The festival has its roots in a Hindu tradition that says God Vishnu wrested from demons a golden pot containing the nectar of immortality.
In a 12-day fight for possession, four drops fell on earth, in the cities of Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. Every three years a Kumbh Mela is held at one of these spots, with the festival at Allahabad the holiest of them all.
More than 2,000 years old, the festival is a meeting point for the Hindu sadhus or hermits, some who live in forests or Himalayan caves, and who belong to dozens of inter-related congregations. (ANI)