Lakhs of devotees on Thursday thronged the Ganga banks in Haridwar, including Har Ki Pauri, to take a dip in the sacred river on the occasion of Makar Sankranti which also marks the first major bath of the ongoing Ardhakumbh mela in Uttarakhand.
Devotees began descending on the Ganga ghats at dawn for the ritual bath, with the auspicious hours for the bath to continue till Friday, mela officials said.
Lakhs of devotees took bath in the river singing paeans to mother Ganga. People are still pouring in for a dip in the river on the auspicious occasion, they said.
After 'Arghya' (offerings) to the Sun God, the devotees visited the devalayas to pay obeisance.
Community feasts serving 'Khichdi' were held at different akharas and ashrams to mark the occasion.
More than 5,000 police and paramilitary personnel were deployed in the mela area to enable devotees to have a smooth Ardhakumbh experience with mela DIG G S Martolia and mela official S A Murugesan keeping an eye on security arrangements at Har Ki Pauri since morning.
Additional DGP Anil Raturi also visited Har Ki Pauri to review security arrangements.
Martolia said there has been no report of any untoward incident from anywhere in the mela area.
Nearly eight lakh devotees have already taken bath in the river and are returning to their destinations, he said, adding the auspicious hours of Makar Sankranti will continue till Friday and the same security arrangements will remain in place.