The Kumbh Mela is one of the world's most magnetic sights. A massive gathering of devotees, pilgrims, holy men (a sadhu) and tourists, the Mela is one of the Hindu faith's largest and most deeply spiritual event and the 2013 edition comes to an end on the night of 10 March, on the occasion of Mahashivaratri.

Literally translated, this means "the night of Shiva" and marks the moment when Shiva (one of the three primary gods in the faith) performs the primordial dance of creation, preservation and destruction.

The festival began nearly two months ago, on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti (14 January) and over these 55 days, over 100 million people have thronged the banks of the Ganges River, many of whom have camped in the area all this time. In effect, a temporary city is created on the river banks, complete with sanitation, transport and postal services, food and water supply and much more.

"Over 60 million people attended the festival in 2001 and this time we believe 120 million people have participated," festival chief Mani Prasad Mishra told AFP on Saturday evening.

"People from all walks of life participate in the festival but there is one thing common among all of them -- they have a desire to lead a pure life," Chandra Bala, a temple priest explained, adding, "The power of the Kumbh Mela is the power of humanity."

What is the Kumbh Mela?

According to Hindu mythology, Vishnu (the second of the primary trinity of gods; the third being Brahma) once fought the demons for a golden pot containing the elixir of life. During combat, the pot was jolted and four drops of the nectar fell on Earth, in the four cities where the Kumbh festival has been held for centuries.

The Kumbh itself is held once every 12 years and the festival rotates across the four cities - Allahabad, Nasik, Ujjain and Haridwar. This, though, is the Maha Kumbh and it is particularly special; this event is held only once every 144 years and only in the city of Allahabad.

Check out these photos from the final day of the Maha Kumbh Mela 2013

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