The Mega kumbh mela, which began on January 15th, will continue till March 4th is expected to generate 1.2 lakh crore for Uttar Pradesh, says apex industry body, Confederation of Indian Industry(CII). As per their report, “Although the kumbh Mela is spiritual and religious in nature, the economic activities associated with it generate employment for over six lakh workers across various sectors.

As per CII study, “The hospitality sector aims at employing 2,50,000 people, for airlines and airports alone around 1,50,000 and tour operators around 45000. The employment numbers in eco-tourism and medical tourism at 85000”. Apart from this there will be around 55,000 new jobs in the unorganized sector comprising of tour guides, taxi drivers, interpreters, volunteers etc.

This will lead to increase in income levels for Government agencies and individual traders. Attracting a massive number of foreign tourists from various countries like Australia, UK, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, New Zealand, Mauritius, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, the Kumbh is a festival of the world.

“The Mela” is expected to generate a revenue of Rs.1200 billion for Uttar Pradesh, the State where it is being held, while neighbouring states like Rajasthan, Uttarkhand, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh will also benefit from the enhanced revenue generation with a large number of national and foreign tourists expected to explore other destinations.

The Uttar Pradesh Government has allocated Rs. 4,200 crore for the 50-day Kumbh Mela this time, which is over thrice the budget of the Maha kumbh in 2013, as the previous State Government had spent around Rs. 1300 crore, making this mega pilgrimage perhaps the costliest ever. The area of kumbh Mela has also been doubled to 3200 hectares as compared to 1600 hectares in the previous melas.

The Kumbh is a unique and massive gathering of both rural and urban population and also has a huge dispersal factor as people travel long distances across the country. In order to house this multitude, authorities have erected a mini-city of more than 4000 tents. The city is being lit by installing over 40,000 LED lights. Over hauling of key infrastructure is being done, including upgrading nine railway stations and construction of new airport terminal in Allahabad.

The setting up of this new city in the huge Mela area involves 250km roads and 22 pontoon bridges, which will make it the largest temporary city in the world.  A pontoon bridge is a bridge that floats on water. It is a floating bridge with barges or boats ('pontoons') to support the bridge deck. Pontoon bridges are usually temporary structures, but some are used for long periods. Permanent floating bridges are useful for sheltered (quiet) water-crossings.

“The Kumbh, a sacred Hindu Pilgrimage, is thus expected to generate direct and indirect business activities, the fruits of which would hopefully benefit the economy not only of Uttar Pradesh, but that of India as a whole”, CII document said.

The Kumbh at Sangam City, Prayagraj, as Allahabad now known, dates back to a hoary past, whose first mention of, was made some 2000 years ago by the Chinese Traveller Hsuan Tsang, who visited India during the reign on King Harshavardhana. Based on a complex astrological calculation, the alignment of the stars, determines the time and place of the “Kumbh” in one of the following four river sites, Haridwar, Prayagraj, Nasik and Ujjain.

 It is a celebration of an ancient tradition – a dip in the holy waters where the mythical Sarasvati, Ganga and Yamuna met. The riverside festivals and the city that springs up around them are attended by millions, making the “Kumbh Mela” the largest religious gathering, perhaps the oldest, the largest temporary city in the world. Learned seers believe that a dip in the waters would endow an individual with religious merit.

Masses of devotees gather on the river bank to attain spiritual enlightenment, some in the belief that doing so will them to worldly success, others simply to purify their souls. The Kumbh Mela gets its worldwide reputation as a MEGA-EVENT, not only because of the sheer number of people who attend the fair, but, also for a wide-spread display of cultural traits of a nation, which is bound by ties of faith and traditions. Around 12 crore people are expected to visit the Kumbh between now and Maha Shivratri on March 4, when the Mela will come to a close on Maha Shivratri day.

It is notable, the first “Shahi Snan” (royal bath) of Kumbh on January 15, drew a record crowd of 2.25 lakh devotees, said Uttar Pradesh chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, who has been meticulously supervising minute details personally to make the event,