Ranchi, Dec 27 (PTI) Uttar Pradesh Minister Surya Pratap Sahi Thursday invited the people of Jharkhand to participate in large numbers in the Kumbh Mela which is beginning on January 15 next year at Prayagraj.

He claimed it will be for the first time in about 450 years that devotees can have darshan of “Akhsaya Vat” (sacred fig tree) during the Kumbh mela.

A sacred fig tree located within the Patalpuri Temple at the Allahabad Fort is worshipped as the ‘Akshaya vat’ described in ancient texts.

The devotees can also have darshan of ‘Saraswati Kup’, the UP Agriculture minister told a press conference here.

He said “we are expecting a congregation of over 12 crore from all over the world between January 15 and March 6.” The UP minister said Ambassadors of 71 countries have made visits to see the preparations ahead of the Kumbh Mela.

The area of Kumbh Mela has been increased from 1400 hectare to 3100 hectare, Sahi said, adding that foolproof security arrangements have been made with integrated control and command centre and CCTV as part of elaborate security arrangement.

Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi efforts and the subsequent declaration of Kumbh Mela as cultural heritage by the UNESCO, Shahi said the UP government has extended invitations to President Ram Nath Kovind, Modi and other dignitaries of the country.

The minister also met Jharkhand Governor Droupadi Murmu and Chief Minister Raghubar Das Thursday and extended invitations to them to visit the mela.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.