Amid heavy security, Naga sadhus early on Tuesday morning thronged the sacred Kushavart Tirtha in Trimbakeshwar, where the Godavari river reemerges, for the first 'Shahi snan' (royal bath) of the 'Sinhastha' Kumbh Mela 2003-04.
Coming after a gap of 12 years and considered the first Shahi snan of the new millennium, the holy dip was accompanied by frenzied chants by Naga sadhus belonging to ten akharas (centres of congregation).
Thousands of dread-locked sadhus smeared with ash ran towards the tirtha shouting Har har Mahadev and Bam bam bhole (both praising Lord Shiva).
Then they stood near the tirtha and offered prayers before jumping into the water.
A tight security cordon was deployed around the entire area. But the police force, home guards, NCC scouts, lifeguards and other volunteers had a tough time managing the stampede-like situation amid incessant rains.