Smallest of all Kumbh centres spans only 200 acres. Holy dip is taken at two places on the Godavari: legacy of a bloody battle between two sects of sadhus 225 years ago at which 12,000 are said to have been killed, leading to an order by the Peshwa marking out separate ghats at Nashik and Trimbakeshwar. Mela is held in the heart of the town — where river banks are narrower than at either Allahabad or Ujjain — and always during the monsoon.
CM Devendra Fadnavis’s government has turned Kumbh into an initiative to showcase PM Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. 10,000-15,000 volunteers have been working with Nashik administration to clean the Godavari’s banks. Bill Gates Foundation is providing disposable bins, other logistics to tackle disposal of an estimated 4 crore paper plates and tea cups every day. This will be a no-plastic Kumbh — cloth bags to be distributed free.
Budget is Rs 2,378 crore — the bulk for 7 new ghats in Nashik and 4 in Trimbakeshwar — needed for the spill from the 1,450 sq m Ramkund ghat in Nashik and Trimbakeshwar’s Kushavarat Kund, which is about the size of a volleyball court. Substantial spending on roads between the towns, and to build Sadhugram on 338 acres for 3 lakh sadhus. 22 departments working to provide water, power, board, lodging, security, transport.
Sea of pilgrims
Between 80 lakh and a crore are expected in Nashik, and 25-30 lakh at Trimbakeshwar, on the three big bathing days — nearly double the numbers seen the last time. An additional platform has come up in Nashik; trains will leave every 20 minutes. Buses will be stopped well outside the town; space to park 1 lakh vehicles has been created. 20,000 police personnel will be helped by 20,000 volunteers, including 40 NGOs in crowd control.