The Pontoon Bridges That Carry Millions at Kumbh Mela

By Alan Taylor

Preparing for one of the world’s largest religious gatherings takes months of planning and hard work. Starting on January 15, 2019, and lasting until March 4, 2019, the Hindu festival of Kumbh Mela will take place in Allahabad, India. Authorities are expecting approximately 100 million visitors to come for a holy dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna, and mythical Saraswati Rivers. Preparations include the construction of 22 temporary pontoon bridges for the millions of pedestrians, vehicles, and animals about to arrive on the riverbanks. More than 1,700 floating steel pontoons are now being repaired, built, placed, and capped with decking, as thousands of workers prepare for the event.

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  • Hindu devotees walk across pontoon bridges as they leave after a holy dip at Sangam—the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna, and mythical Saraswati Rivers—during the Maha Kumbh festival, in Allahabad, India, on February 10, 2013.

    Manish Swarup / AP

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  • An Indian laborer welds part of a pontoon for a bridge across the Ganges river in Allahabad on June 27, 2018. The floating bridge is being made as part of preparations for the upcoming Kumbh Mela festival, scheduled to begin in January 2019.

    Rajesh Kumar Singh / AP

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  • Indian children play among parts of a pontoon bridge to be built across the Ganges on June 19, 2012.

    Rajesh Kumar Singh / AP

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  • A worker adds finishing touches to the interior of a pontoon on December 23, 2005.

    Jitendra Prakash / Reuters

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  • Laborers push a pontoon to construct a temporary bridge on the Ganges in Allahabad on November 29, 2010.

    Jitendra Prakash / Reuters

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  • Indian laborers pull a pontoon buoy with a rope in the Ganges as they build a floating bridge over the river on October 24, 2018.

    Sanjay Kanojia / AFP / Getty

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  • Laborers construct a temporary pontoon bridge over the Ganges at Sangam in Allahabad on November 4, 2012.

    AFP / Getty

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  • Workers carry wooden sleepers for decking on a pontoon bridge on December 7, 2015.

    Sanjay Kanojia / AFP / Getty

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  • Laborers work on a newly constructed temporary pontoon bridge in Allahabad on November 2, 2018.

    Sanjay Kanojia / AFP / Getty

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  • Workers complete a temporary pontoon bridge in Allahabad on November 27, 2012.

    Sanjay Kanojia / AFP / Getty

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  • Hindu devotees cross a bridge as they prepare to bathe at Sangam—the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna, and mythical Saraswati Rivers—to mark the auspicious Basant Panchami festival during the annual Magh Mela in Allahabad on January 24, 2015.

    Sanjay Kanojia / AFP / Getty

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  • Thousands of Indian Hindu devotees walk across bridges at Sangam in Allahabad on February 25, 2013.

    Rajesh Kumar Singh / AP

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  • An elephant makes its way across a bridge in Allahabad on February 14, 2013.

    Saurabh Das / AP

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  • Thousands of Hindu devotees cross over the Ganges in Allahabad.

    R. M. Nunes / Shutterstock

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  • Hindu devotees bathe at Sangam after sundown on February 9, 2013.

    Sanjay Kanojia / AFP / Getty

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  • Hindu devotees cross newly constructed bridges in Allahabad on January 22, 2012.

    Rajesh Kumar Singh / AP

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  • Hindu holy men sit on the roofs of cars while crossing a bridge over the Ganges on January 14, 2001.

    Pawel Kopczynski / Reuters

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  • Hindu devotees cross the Ganges after bathing in the waters at Sangam on February 10, 2013.

    Jitendra Prakash / Reuters

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  • Tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims walk across pontoon bridges on January 23, 2001, in Allahabad.

    Robert Nickelsberg / Liaison / Getty

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  • A pilgrim reaches for the water while bathing as others cross a bridge at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna, and mythical Saraswati Rivers during the Ardh Kumbh Mela festival on January 18, 2007, in Allahabad, India.

    Mario Tama / Getty

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