The world's largest gathering of people, the 55-day Kumbh congregation, began in this north India town on Monday with tens of thousands of devotees, led by ash-smeared Naga ascetics, taking a dip at the Sangam - the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers.

Held in Allahabad after every 12 years, the first day of the Maha Kumbh is likely to see more than 50 lakh people taking a holy dip on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, senior official BP Singh said.