Devotees in lakhs from India and abroad descended on the holy city which is all decked up to host the first Kumbh Mela of the century beginning tomorrow.

Over 25 lakh people are expected to take a dip in the river Ganga on Thursday, on the first day of the ‘snan (bathing)’ on the auspicious occasion of ‘Makar Sankranti’, known as Uttarayan in other parts of India - the day when the sun starts to travel northwards marking the decline of winter.

Eight lakh people have already reached the city, officials said.

Members of different religious orders or ‘Akharas’ have also started arriving, Deputy Fair Officer Harvir Singh said.

“All arrangements have been made. Security forces have been deployed at 130 sq km area to ensure that no untoward incident occurs,” Kumbh Mela incharge Anand Vardhan said.

Dehradun, Pauri, Tehri and Haridwar regions of Uttarakhand have been notified as Mahakumbh Nagar.

The State government has asked the Centre and neighbouring States for additional forces to manage administrative and security arrangements in the city.

Tight security arrangements have been made at all entry points and 39 CCTV cameras have been installed to keep a close vigil, Mr. Vardhan said.

Senior police officer Alok Sharma said on the first day of the mela, 800 personnel of CRPF, 200 personnel of RAF and 400 CISF men will be deployed. There are plans to deploy BSF and ITBP also, he said.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said all steps have been taken to ensure incident-free fair.

“Successful conduct of the Mahakumbh fair has been the utmost priority of my government for which heavy security has been put in place,” Mr. Nishank told PTI.

Meanwhile, security has been stepped up along the Delhi-Haridwar national highway and 17 new police outposts have been set up, according to Muzaffarnagar Superintendent of Police Rajiv Malhotra.