KOLKATA, INDIA, January 16, 2020 (Indian Express): More than 4 million pilgrims from all across the country and abroad took the holy dip in Gangasagar on the occasion of Makar Sankranti on Wednesday. Makar Sankranti marks the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days. A district official of South 24 Parganas said, "This year, we were expecting 4 million pilgrims during Makar Sankranti. However, the number crossed the 4 million mark. Everything took place in a very peaceful manner." Since the Kumbh Mela is not scheduled this year, the district administration had a presumption that there would be a large inflow of pilgrims at Gangasagar mela this year. That is why there was unprecedented security arrangements that included more than 5,000 police personnel, 250 drones, over 1,000 CCTV cameras, 100,000 QR code-based wrist bands and a mega control room in the centre of the island coordinating the entire network.
Located about 93 miles from Kolkata in the South 24 Parganas district, Sagar Island hosts Gangasagar mela every year during Makar Sankranti. This year, the mela started from January 7 and will continue till January 17. The most auspicious period for the holy dip or shahi snan started at 12.24 am on Wednesday. Thousands of people also took holy dips at Babughat, Doi ghat, Baje Kadamtala Ghat, Saradamani Ghat, Ratanbabur Ghat, Bagbazar Ghat and Kumartuli Ghat, all on the banks of the Hooghly river in Kolkata, officials said. The picture was similar on the other bank of the river in Howrah where many took dips at Telkal Ghat, Shibpur Ghat and Ramkrishnapur Ghat, they said.