The Ardh Kumbh Mela, Allahabad 2007

The largest human gathering ever has been photographed from space by a high resolution imaging satellite.

Over 70 million people are expected to attend a Hindu spiritual event in northern India called the Maha Kumbh Mela. The pilgrims gather at a sacred location on the Ganges River, 15 kilometres from Allahabad, for more than a month of bathing rituals. The activities are intended to wash away their sins and hasten the Hindu people’s progress toward nirvana.

The one-metre resolution image was collected by Space Imaging’s IKONOS satellite, travelling at over 6 kilometres per second, 677 kilometres above the Earth. It shows red-robed bathers at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati rivers.

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