Lakhs of sadhus, mahants and pilgrims from different parts of the country on Sunday took the shahi snan (royal bath) in Trimbakeshwar on the occasion of the Simhastha Kumbh Mela and offered prayers to Lord Shiva at the Trimbakeshwar temple.
Processions were taken out without much fanfare as a mark of respect to those killed in a stampede during the previous shahi snan.
The procession was led by mahants of the Panchdashnam Avahan akhada, mostly ash smeared and flower bedecked Naga sadhus, who took shahi snan at 4.05am chanting Har Har Mahadev, Bam Bam Bhole.
Later sadhus and mahants of the Agni, Niranjan, Anand, Mahanirwani, Atal, Bada Udasin, Naya Udasin and Nirmal akhadas took the shahi snan as per their scheduled time, before common devotees were allowed to participate at 12pm.
However, sadhus and mahants of the Shri Shambhu Panchdashnam Juna Akhada stayed away alleging that there was a political conspiracy against their akhada.
Devotees had to park their vehicles outside Trimbakeshwar and trek the distance to the site of the bath.
State Planning Department Additional Chief Secretary Jagadish Joshi, Director General of Police Omprakash Bali, Divisional Commissioner Vijay Mathankar, Special Inspector General Khanderao Shinde, District Collector Mahesh Zagde, DSP Ravindra Kumar Singhal had made special plans to control the mob and fixed entry and exit routes for the sadhus and the people.
According to collector Zagde, the Kumbh Mela will continue till August 2004 but the six main days were over.
District Guardian Minister Govindrao Adik and Minister of State for Home Kripa Shankar Singh thanked the administration and police for their planning.
The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation had arranged for 50 extra buses to handle the rush of pilgrims.