Horses, elephants and crowds of more than 100 million people have descended on the world's largest religious festival in India, marking the beginning of Kumbh Mela.
The huge 49-day holy festival takes place in the northern city of Prayagraj at the joining of the two rivers considered sacred to Hindus: the Ganges and the Yamuna, in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Pilgrims bathe in the river believing it can absolve them of their sins and ends their process of reincarnation.
Tens of millions throng to the sites for a holy dip, many with little money, few provisions and nowhere to sleep.
The first of a series of royal baths took place before dawn on Tuesday, led by a procession of sadhus on tractor chariots and on foot, singing, drumming and blowing horns.
The first to bathe were the naked, naga sadhus in crowns of marigolds and covered with ash.
Huge crowds followed them into the river, including Mili Mishra, a teacher from Prayagraj who was with her husband and two sons.
"We are not earning a livelihood. We think that if we bathe here, God can change our life," she said.
The Indian government has said it expects millions of people from across the country and abroad to visit the area, easily making it the largest gathering of people for a religious event anywhere in the world.
The Kumbh rotates among four pilgrimage sites every three years on a date defined by astrology.
This year’s festival is of the type which occurs every six years.
The BJP-led governments are spending around £507 million on the religious festival.
Across the city, roads have been widened and new flyovers have been built.
In the mela ground, 300 km of roads have been laid and huge car parks with free tents have been set up all around the city to accommodate more than half a million vehicles.
Narendra Giri, the head sadhu at the Kumbh, said the government’s arrangements and facilities for the religious festival would "obviously affect the election."
He added that while previous governments had also adhered to the "guest is a god policy," the BJP’s performance this year had outdone them all.