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Millions join India's Hindu pilgrimage to the Ganges

By Alex Zolbert, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pilgrimage held four times every 12 years
  • Thousands of holy men attend, bathing in sacred rivers
  • Millions of pilgrims attend the auspicious gathering
  • Haridwar, along the Ganges, is playing host to the historic event

Haridwar, India (CNN) -- The Kumbh Mela is a mass Hindu pilgrimage that is often referred to as the largest religious gathering on the planet. It is celebrated four times every 12 years, with the observance rotating between four different cities in India.

Thousands of spiritual Sadhus and Babas -- the holy men of India -- are the focal point, along with the millions of pilgrims who travel across India to attend the auspicious gathering and bathe in sacred rivers.

According to astrologers, the 'Kumbh' is to take place when the planet Jupiter enters Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries.

This year the city of Haridwar, along the Ganges, is playing host to the historic event over the course of several months.

Watch a video and photo slideshow of the Khumbh Mela Video

Video: A leap of faith

CNN Producer and avid photographer Alex Zolbert traveled about 5 hours by train north of Delhi to witness and photograph the Dvitya Shahi Snan, or Second Royal Bath, on March 15.

Journalist Mark Phillips traveled to India to chronicle the perspective of people at the Kumbh Mela. He captured the event in video and pictures at the left.