Bharadwaj Ashram - Temples and Religious Sites at Prayagraj

Temples and Religious Sites at Prayagraj Kumbh Mela with Photographic Value

Updated on: May 3, 2024
Authored by: Ankur Saxena
Explore the best temples and religious sites for photography at Prayagraj Kumbh Mela. This post covers essential visitor information, photography tips, and the cultural activities that define this magnificent gathering.
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Introduction – Temples and Religious Sites at Prayagraj

Welcome to Prayagraj, a city where spirituality and tradition flow as vibrant as the rivers that converge here. Every twelve years, the Kumbh Mela transforms this peaceful setting into a bustling hub of religious activity, drawing millions of devotees and visitors from around the globe.

This festival, one of the largest congregations of human beings on the planet, offers not only a deep spiritual experience but also a feast for the eyes of both amateur and professional photographers.

The Kumbh Mela’s significance is deeply rooted in Hindu mythology, where it is said that drops of amrita (the elixir of immortality) fell from the Kumbha (pot) carried by the gods and demons during the Samudra Manthan, the cosmic churning of the ocean. Prayagraj, formerly known as Allahabad, holds a special place in this legend, as it is one of the four sacred spots where these drops are believed to have fallen.

Here, at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati rivers, known as Triveni Sangam, the air is filled with righteousness and picturesque scenes, offering endless opportunities for capturing moments that are both evocative and eternal.

Image showing devotees taking boat ride in river ganga in varanasi

As the city gears up for the Mela, its temples and religious sites don the most decorative and divine attire, ready for their close-ups. From the ancient temples that whisper tales of millennia to the vibrant rituals that paint a canvas of devotion, every corner of Prayagraj during the Kumbh Mela is a photographer’s paradise.

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In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the most visually stunning and spiritually uplifting sites in Prayagraj during the Kumbh Mela, ensuring you know the perfect spots and times to capture the essence of this extraordinary festival.

Join us as we delve into the heart of Prayagraj, exploring its temples and religious sites through the lens of a camera and the soul of a pilgrim.

Historical Background – Temples and Religious Sites at Prayagraj

The Kumbh Mela’s origins are as mystical and majestic as the festival itself, deeply intertwined with the myths and legends of Hinduism. According to ancient scriptures, the Kumbh Mela commemorates the celestial battle between the gods and demons over the sacred pitcher (Kumbha) containing the nectar of immortality, produced during the Samudra Manthan, or the churning of the cosmic ocean.

It is believed that during their skirmish, four drops of the nectar fell on earth at four locations: Prayagraj, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik, which are now the hosts of the rotating Kumbh Melas.

Prayagraj, historically known as Allahabad, holds a particularly auspicious position among these sites. This city is not only a confluence of three sacred rivers—the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the invisible Saraswati—but also a confluence of history, mythology, and spirituality.

The Triveni Sangam, the point at which these rivers merge, is considered the most sacred spot in Hindu theology. It is said that a bath here purifies one’s soul and opens the door to liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

A picture showing devotees bathing in kumbh mela

The historical records of Kumbh Mela date back many centuries. The Chinese traveller Xuanzang (Hiuen Tsang) in the 7th century described a ritual organized by the king where hundreds of thousands of people gathered to witness the event and take a holy dip in the Ganges.

Over the centuries, the Kumbh Mela has evolved, reflecting the dynamic nature of Hindu traditions and rituals. Each gathering serves as a reminder of Hinduism’s deep-rooted traditions, its theological teachings, and the importance of pilgrimage in Indian culture.

The city of Prayagraj itself has undergone many transformations, witnessing the rise and fall of empires, from the Mauryas and Guptas to the Mughals and the British.

Each era has left its mark on the city, contributing to its rich architectural and cultural tapestry. This historical layering adds to the city’s spiritual depth, enhancing the experience for visitors and pilgrims who come to seek both divine blessings and a connection to their heritage.

Major Temples and Religious Sites at Prayagraj Kumbh Mela

1. Triveni Sangam

The Triveni Sangam is the spiritual heart of the Kumbh Mela. This sacred confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati rivers is considered one of the holiest places in Hinduism. Pilgrims from all over the world flock here to bathe in the purifying waters, believed to wash away sins and free them from the cycle of rebirth. Photographically, the Sangam offers breathtaking views during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset, when the soft light casts a divine glow on the waters and the faces of the devout.

2. Hanuman Temple

Located near the Sangam, this temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman, the monkey god known for his strength and loyalty. The temple is famous for its unique reclining statue of Hanuman, which is submerged when the river waters rise. Capturing this statue, especially during the rise and fall of the waters, presents a compelling narrative of devotion amidst nature’s rhythms. The vibrant festivities and colourful decorations during the Kumbh Mela add layers of depth to photographs taken here.

3. Akshayavat

The immortal tree, Akshayavat, located within the Patalpuri Temple at the Allahabad Fort, holds a venerable position in Hindu mythology. It is said that the tree represents eternal life. Access to the fort is restricted, but during the Kumbh Mela, devotees are allowed to visit, providing a rare opportunity to photograph this ancient and revered tree. Its sprawling branches and mystical aura make it an excellent subject for both close-up shots and wider compositions that capture its surroundings.

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4. Allahabad Fort

Built by Emperor Akbar at the Sangam, the Allahabad Fort is a magnificent structure that combines Mughal and Hindu architectural elements. The fort’s strategic location offers panoramic views of the Kumbh Mela, perfect for wide-angle shots.

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The fort’s massive walls and intricate artworks also make for fascinating subjects, reflecting the grandeur of a bygone era.

5. Patalpuri Temple

Within the underground confines of the Allahabad Fort lies the Patalpuri Temple, one of the most mystical sites in Prayagraj. The temple, often less illuminated, provides a challenge for photographers, necessitating the use of specific techniques suited for low-light conditions. Capturing the ethereal peace of devotees praying in the dimly lit corridors can be profoundly impactful, highlighting the serene spirituality of the place.

Photography Tips at Kumbh Mela – Temples and Religious Sites at Prayagraj

1. Best Times for Photography

The golden hours—shortly after sunrise and just before sunset—are universally recognized as the best times for photography, and this holds especially true at the Kumbh Mela. During these times, the soft, diffused light enhances the natural beauty of the surroundings and casts a magical glow on the faces of pilgrims, creating captivating images.

Additionally, the blue hour, which occurs just before sunrise and just after sunset, offers a serene backdrop with a cooler colour temperature, ideal for capturing the peaceful yet energetic atmosphere of the festival.

2. Recommended Equipment

  • Camera and Lenses: A DSLR or mirrorless camera equipped with a versatile zoom lens (such as a 24-70mm) is ideal for most situations at the Kumbh Mela. Additionally, carrying a telephoto lens (such as a 70-200mm) can help capture distant rituals and ceremonies without intruding on private moments.
  • Tripod: A lightweight tripod is crucial for early morning and late evening shoots, especially when capturing long exposures of the Sangam or the bustling crowd movements.
  • Filters: Using polarizing filters can help manage reflections and enhance the vibrancy of the sky and water, while neutral density filters allow for longer exposures in bright daylight.

3. Techniques for Capturing Dynamic Moments

  • Anticipation and Patience: Understanding the schedule of events and positioning yourself in advance can pay dividends. Look for moments of interaction, such as the ritual baths or offerings, and be ready to capture them.
  • Shutter Speed Variations: Experiment with different shutter speeds to either freeze a moment of intense activity (fast shutter speed) or blur the motion of the crowds or flowing water (slow shutter speed), depending on the effect you desire.
  • Composition: Pay attention to the rule of thirds, leading lines, and framing. The chaotic environment of the Kumbh Mela provides numerous opportunities to frame subjects creatively through crowds, between tents, or using the natural lines of the rivers.

4. Etiquette and Permissions

Respect the participants and the sanctity of the rituals. Always ask for permission before taking close-up photos of individuals, especially during more intimate or solemn moments.

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Be aware of and sensitive to areas where photography might be restricted, particularly in and around temples or during specific rituals.

5. Back-up and Storage

Due to the large volume of photos that you are likely to take, carry sufficient memory cards and backup your data regularly. Consider a portable hard drive or cloud storage options to ensure that none of your images are lost.

Cultural Activities at Kumbh Mela – Temples and Religious Sites at Prayagraj

The Kumbh Mela is not just a confluence of rivers but also a vibrant amalgamation of cultural and spiritual activities that reflect the diverse traditions of India. Here, every ritual and ceremony carries deep symbolic meaning, attracting devotees and tourists alike.

1. Ritual Baths

The most significant and visually captivating activity at the Kumbh Mela is the ritual bathing. Pilgrims believe that bathing in the holy waters of the Sangam during the Kumbh Mela purifies the soul and washes away sins.

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The main bathing dates, known as ‘Shahi Snan’ (royal bath), see millions of devotees plunging into the sacred waters at dawn, led by processions of sadhus (holy men) from different sects, some adorned with elaborate paint and carrying flags. Capturing these moments offers a glimpse into the profound devotion and the festive atmosphere that pervades the event.

2. Processions

The arrival of the Akharas (sectarian groups of sadhus) in grand processions is a spectacle of colour and fervour. These processions feature elaborately decorated elephants, horses, and chariots, and are accompanied by music and chanting. Photographers can capture the dramatic visuals of these processions as they make their way through the multitude towards the Sangam.

3. Prayers and Aarti

Every evening, the ghats (riverfront steps) of Prayagraj light up with the glow of aarti, a Hindu worship ritual where lamps are offered to the deity. The synchronized waving of lamps accompanied by songs and bells creates a mesmerizing scene, ideal for photography that captures the essence of devotion and community.

4. Discourses and Teachings

Numerous tents and stages are set up where spiritual leaders and scholars hold discourses and impart teachings. These gatherings are not only intellectually stimulating but also offer a chance to photograph the interaction between the leaders and the masses, providing a more intimate look at the spiritual and educational aspects of the festival.

5. Cultural Performances

Folk dances, singing performances, and theatrical enactments based on Hindu myths and legends take place throughout the Mela. These performances, often in traditional costumes, offer vibrant subject matter for photographers, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of India.

6. Crafts and Cuisine

Stalls and bazaars at the Kumbh Mela offer an array of traditional handicrafts and local cuisines. Capturing the bustling market scenes and the detailed craftsmanship provides insight into the local economic and cultural life. Photographing the variety of dishes prepared during the festival can also be particularly appealing, highlighting the gastronomic diversity and the communal aspect of dining.

Visitor Information for the Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj

Attending the Kumbh Mela is a profound experience, but it requires careful planning given the scale and the density of the crowd. Here are some essential tips to help ensure a safe and enjoyable visit:

1. Accommodation

  • Advance Booking: Due to the massive influx of pilgrims and tourists, it’s crucial to book your accommodation well in advance. Options range from luxury hotels and guest houses to budget hostels and government-provided tent cities, which offer various amenities at different price points.

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  • Ashrams and Dharamshalas: For a more spiritual experience, consider staying in an ashram or Dharamshala. These are often simpler and may require adherence to specific rules or participation in daily activities.

Kumbh Mela 31

  • Camping: Some visitors choose to camp near the festival area. While camping can offer flexibility, it’s important to ensure safety and check local regulations regarding tent setups.

2. Transportation

  • Getting There: Prayagraj is well-connected by road, rail, and air. The city has its airport, and the railway station is one of the busiest in the country. During the Kumbh Mela, additional trains and buses are usually scheduled to accommodate the extra visitors.
  • Local Transport: Auto-rickshaws, taxis, and cycle rickshaws are readily available for local transportation. For travel within the Mela grounds, walking is often the best option due to the heavy traffic and closed roads.
  • Travel Passes: It’s advisable to look into any travel passes or permits required during the festival, especially for vehicle access in restricted areas.

3. Local Guidelines

  • Cultural Sensitivity: The Kumbh Mela is a religious festival, so dressing modestly and respecting local customs and religious sentiments is important.
  • Photography Permissions: Always ask for permission before taking photographs, especially of people and inside temples. Some areas may prohibit photography entirely.
  • Environmental Care: The Kumbh Mela has made strides towards becoming a cleaner event. Visitors are encouraged to avoid using plastic and to dispose of waste properly to help maintain the sanctity and cleanliness of the site.

4. Safety and Health

  • Crowd Management: Be aware of your surroundings, especially in large crowds. Keep your belongings secure and maintain regular contact with your group.
  • Medical Facilities: Medical camps are set up throughout the Mela grounds to handle any emergencies. It’s also a good idea to carry a basic first aid kit and any personal medications.
  • Hydration and Food: Stay hydrated and eat regularly. While local food is a big part of the experience, ensure it’s safe and clean to prevent any health issues.

5. Communications

  • Keeping Connected: Mobile networks can be congested during the festival, so plan accordingly. Using apps that work well on low bandwidth or arranging specific meeting points with your group can help if communication becomes challenging.

Conclusion – Temples and Religious Sites at Prayagraj

As the sun sets over the horizon of Prayagraj, casting golden hues over the waters of the Sangam, the Kumbh Mela stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of human faith and devotion.

This festival, steeped in centuries of tradition and mythology, offers more than just a spiritual journey—it presents a vivid tableau of India’s rich cultural mosaic, inviting photographers and pilgrims alike to immerse themselves in its vibrant atmosphere.

The temples and religious sites of Prayagraj, from the serene banks of the Triveni Sangam to the historical depth of the Allahabad Fort, provide countless opportunities to capture moments of beauty and devotion.

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These sacred spaces, alive with the chants of prayers and the rhythmic bells of rituals, are not just places of worship but also canvases displaying the artistry of India’s spiritual heart.

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For those armed with cameras, each corner of Prayagraj during the Kumbh Mela offers a story waiting to be told. The interplay of light and water, the expressions of devout faces, and the grandeur of ceremonial processions create a photographer’s paradise.

It’s an opportunity to not only hone your photography skills but also to witness and document a monumental gathering that transcends the boundaries of the ordinary.

We invite you to step into this whirlwind of colour, faith, and culture. Whether you are seeking spiritual solace, artistic inspiration, or a deeper understanding of one of humanity’s largest acts of faith, the Kumbh Mela is a spectacle that promises to move and overwhelm all who partake in its ancient rhythms.

Prepare to dive deep into this spiritual extravaganza. For more information on travel arrangements, detailed schedules of events, and guides on how to make the most of your visit to the Kumbh Mela, head over to This resource is your essential companion for navigating the sacred festival, ensuring that your journey is as enlightening as it is exciting.

So pack your bags, ready your lenses, and prepare your heart for an experience that promises to be as enriching as it is enlightening. The Kumbh Mela is not just an event; it is a phenomenon that beautifully captures the essence of human spirituality and the timeless beauty of India’s religious heritage.

Visit today and start planning your pilgrimage to this unparalleled celebration of faith.

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