taking a walk: photos | stories | essays

22 January 2019

Kumbh Mela 2019 Special: To the other side of the river where it is quiet

The Kumbh Mela has its silent moments. A walk across the pontoon that connects with the other side of the river from where millions are bathing, takes to a quiet, small road that goes back toward the city, back to the maddening crowd of mela-returnees and those who have just arrived.

This road will take you to the colonial-era infrastructure achievement, the Old Naini Bridge, among India’s longest and oldest bridges. The entire walk from the Kumbh Mela venue pontoon to the old bridge is about 7 kilometres. Anybody wanting to see Prayagraj, formerly Allahabad, from a new angle will not be disappointed in attempting this walk during the winter months.

The so-called chaos (there’s also an album by Alanis Morissette with the same name) of the Kumbh Mela is an imaginary thing that dwells in the heads of people who have never been there. That joke about getting lost in the Kumbh Mela is past its shelf life.

Millions of people and hundreds of vehicles mill about the Kumbh Mela grounds and somehow get along. Isn’t it a very Indian thing? Order in disorder, like the traffic in Chandni Chowk, or going to work in heavy rain in Mumbai, or even politics.

One of the many ways to enjoy the Kumbh Mela, hence, is to walk from one end of the ground to the other side of the river (plug in your earphones and play some music if you must) and go home without looking back.

End note: This is the last of a four-part series on the Kumbh Mela, being held in Prayagraj, formerly Allahabad, from January 15 to March 4, 2019. First part is here, second here, third here. If you want specific information like how to enter the Kumbh Mela grounds, less-crowded places at the site, or general stuff on Prayagraj, I’ll try my best to answer them. Mail to journeybasket [at] gmail

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Journalist. Taking a walk in India. | Email to journeybasket[at]gmail | Special thanks to M.S. Gopal | All rights reserved. No commercial use.

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