Hundreds of thousands of faithful today took holy dip in rivers and ponds and offered prayers in temples on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti which was celebrated across the country with mirth and fervour.
Braving early morning winter chill, devotees in North India bathed in sacred rivers and ponds and made a beeline to temples to offer prayers.
The faithful also offered goods made of "til" (sesame) to the poor, an act of charity believed to bring spiritual benefit on Makar Sankranti when the Sun enters the tropic of Capricorn.
Security forces kept a hawk-eye vigil to maintain law and order and ward off any attack on religious congregations.
In Allahabad, a sea of humanity converged at the Sangam, the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical river Saraswati, to take holy dip on Makar Sankranti which marks the decline of winter.
Led by ash-smeared holy men, worshippers took a ritual bath in the holy waters at the Sangam signalling the start of Maha Khumbh, billed as the world's biggest religious festival.
Long-winding queues of devotees were seen outside temples in the vicinity of the Sangam and near the banks of Ganga and Yamuna.
At the Sagar Island in West Bengal, over five lakh devotess bathed at the confluence of the Ganga and the Bay of Bengal to celebrate the festival.
Colourful kites dotted the skyline of many cities and towns on the occasion with children, young and old camping themselves on roof-tops to enjoy the festival.
In Tamil Nadu, harvest festival Pongal was celebrated with fervour as farmers worshipped the Sun God with their agricultural produce.
Skillfully laid out colourful 'kolams' (rangoli) on the streets and houses decorated with palm leaves and flowers marked the day as people welcomed the auspicious Tamil month of 'Thai.'