The largest religious gathering of humanity is currently clustered along the banks of the Ganges in Allahabad, where it’s believed a dip in the holy currents rinses away lifetimes of karma. With more than 110 million devotees in attendance, a visit can be overwhelming for the uninitiated. Step in, Sangam Nivas Camp, whose key location on the cusp of the action grants guests a rare opportunity to experience the magic without the crush. Open until 6th March 2019, to align with the Kumbh’s dates, the camp’s chief operating officer, Rajnish Sabharwal, shares what we can expect from a visit.
Can you tell us about the Kumbh Mela?
“The scale of this cultural extravaganza, with its throngs of devotees, is an unmatched sight to behold. Here, we are talking about the biggest human congregation on Earth, attended not just by Hindus but by different faiths and nationalities. The chanting of a million voices creates a powerful atmosphere that truly awakens the senses.”
How does Sangam Nivas Camp provide access to the Kumbh Mela?
“The essence of Sangam Nivas Camp is to help our guests understand the Kumbh Mela and Indian religion. We weave in exclusive activities especially curated to enhance the Kumbh experience. Guests staying at Sangam Nivas Camp can witness the sea of fervent devotees performing their rituals and offering prayers. They can visit the various Akhara for a comprehensive view of the ideologies and philosophies of different sects of Hinduism.
Partake in morning yoga and meditation classes or enjoy the Kumbh Mela’s sights on an early morning boat cruise and witness devotees at the river banks offering prayers to their deities. Interact with sadhus [holy men] and seers to understand the true essence of tapasya—self-sacrifice to attain self-realisation—or capture the mystical milieu on camera in our photography excursions.”
Can you describe the camp itself?
“Our beautifully appointed, spacious tents are equipped with modern, luxury amenities and ornate bespoke furnishings, with hot and cold running water in the en-suite bathrooms. Camp highlights include yoga and meditation, evening aarti [prayer] ceremonies in the Ashram, an in-house astrologer, wellness centre, spiritual discourses, a spectacular culinary experience and a tea lounge.”
Apart from the beautiful guest tents themselves, what is your favourite area of the camp?
“Our wellness centre, Swadhya offers a range of therapies that nurture body, mind and soul. Another highlight is our unique vantage point at the camp, where one gets a breathtaking view of the Kumbh Mela.”
What do you recommend from Sangam Nivas Camp’s menu?
“Guests are treated to a simple yet unique culinary experience during their stay. The dining tent features a live kitchen where sattvic [pure] vegetarian food is freshly prepared with a variety of options to choose from. The menus offer a distinctive taste of fine Indian cuisine, with freshly baked breads, pies and cookies prepared daily in our bakery. We also take care of special dietary requirements and allergies.”
How close is the camp to the Kumbh Mela?
“Positioned at the highest point of the Kumbh Mela, Sangam Nivas is on a hillock overlooking the sangam [confluence] and offers the perfect vantage point for guests to soak up the atmosphere and the essence of the Kumbh. The camp is directly in line with the sangam’s main bathing area and overlooks the Akharas of the sadhus, religious communities and seers. An exclusive viewing terrace adds to the experience, by offering guests an opportunity to marvel at the ocean of devotees, without leaving the comforts of the camp. Telescopes and binoculars are available for a panoramic view. The camp is a one-hour drive from Allahabad Airport, five hours from Lucknow and three hours from Varanasi. The closest train station is Allahabad Junction, which is well-connected to Delhi, Howrah and Mumbai.”
What do you recommend guests experience at the Kumbh Mela?
“An early morning boat ride in the sangam is the best way to start your day at the Kumbh Mela. According to Hindu Mythology, the sangam is an opening into the dimension of the Gods and hence taking a bath in these holy waters cleanses the soul, bringing it closer to the divine. This spectacle is mesmerising, with hymns and mantras being chanted in unison.”
Sangam Nivas Camp is offering discounted rates during the Kumbh Mela. Call us on +44 (0)20 7487 9111 for more details.
All feature images © The Ultimate Travelling Camp