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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 August, 2003, 17:57 GMT 18:57 UK
In pictures: Kumbh Mela
Soldiers patrol festival
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Security was tight for the Kumbh Mela festival in the city of Nashik in western India.
Hindu holy men in the water
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An estimated 20,000 sadhus (Hindu holy men) took part in the climatic ritual, bathing at the spot where the River Godavari emerges after its source in the Brahmagri hills.
Hindu holy men at the festival
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So great was the crowd that many of the holy men had to wait their turn.
Holy men run towards the water in early hours of morning
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Many of the holy men were naked save for ash smeared over their bodies.
Holy men in the water
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The men chanted Har Har Mahadev - "Victory to Lord Shiva" - and held holy idols aloft.
Hindu holy men
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Thousands hiked to the remote city for the festival, some with sacred cattle accompanying them.
Devotees fan priest on car roof
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Some travelled to the site using rather unorthodox methods such as a car roof...
Holy man heads to the Kumbh
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... and this holy man chose an elephant for his travels.

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