The Kumbh Mela is the most fascinating event I’ve ever been to in my life. For someone who’s been around the world twice and visited over 110 countries that should indicate how impressive it really was.
Every 3 years millions of Hindu’s gather along the Ganges River to wash away their sins and be blessed by holy men from dozens of religious sects, all in the hopes that they will reach Nirvana and not be reincarnated again. Every six years the number of pilgrims more than doubles because the sun, moon and Jupiter align in an auspicious way. I was at the six year Kumbh Mela. The next big, big “Kum” will be in 2022 and again in 2025, so mark your calendar.
But before you commit to an almost life changing experience make sure you are working with the very best tour operator:
Cox & Kings. You want to stay in the best places. Cox & Kings knows the best places. You want to visit the tents of the holy men. Cox & Kings knows these people personally. Their incredible guides smoothes your way so you never feel uncomfortable, even when your taking hundreds of photos because each sight is more incredible than the one you took 2 seconds ago.
How does the government accommodate millions of people who come for anywhere between one day to the entire two months of the festival? You build a tent city on 2200 acres of the sandy banks where the Ganges meets the Yamuna River. Then you electrify the entire area, put in cell towers and port-a-potties with dirt “roads” leading to 21 pontoon bridges across the rivers. Thank goodness my Cox & Kings guides knew the best places to visit in the tent city, what to see and who to talk to. I would have been lost without them. At no time did I feel overwhelmed or unsafe.
Western style accommodations are limited at the Kumbh Mela but Cox and Kings came through with their version of a “tent” which we call glamping (glamorous camping). This Ultimate Traveling Tent include a bedroom in my tent that was twice the size of my bedroom at home with a huge king sized bed, mini bar, wardrobe, desk, end tables and chandelier. And there was the separate bathroom with a stall shower, western toilet and a gorgeous copper sink I wanted to “steal”. Delicious meals are served in the luxurious dining tent while other tents are for the full spa services, yoga, videos and other entertainment.
If you can’t make the Kumbh Mela don’t despair. A much smaller version takes place daily in the holy city of Varanasi. But to get the most of your experience be sure to use an exceptional tour operator.