This is Kumbh Mela, Not Saudi, Claims Viral Post. But Saudi It is!

An image of tents pitched in Mina Valley of Saudi Arabia is being shared on social media as the Uttar Pradesh government’s preparation for Kumbh Mela.

The image has been shared by several Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.

This post shared on Facebook Group नमो भक्त। हर नमो समर्थक जुड़ते ही अपने 50 मित्रो को अवश्य जोड़े। in fact goes ahead and claims the image is not from Saudi Arabia but Kumbh Mela. It says, “जी नही ! ये सऊदी अरब का दृश्य नही….बल्कि योगी सरकार द्वारा कुम्भ मेले की अभूतपूर्व तैयारी का एक दृश्य है । जय हो राष्ट्रवादी योगी सरकार ।।”

This loosely translates to, “No. This is not an image of Saudi Arabia, but an image of the astonishing preparation for Kumbh Mela by Yogi government. Jai Ho Rashtravadhi Yogi government”. The post has got over 1,000 shares.

Click here for the archived link of the post.

Another Facebook page Pulse of India‘s post claims, ‘All set for kumbh Mel”

Click here for the archived version of the post.

Facebook pages Namo Bharath – Narendra Modi for PM and Postcard Kanada also shared the image. Postcard later deleted the post. Below is a screenshot.

Click here for the archived link of the post.

How Did We Find the Image is from Saudi Arabia And Not Kumbh Mela?

A Google reverse image search showed websites showing the image is from Saudi Arabia.

However, none of them were authoritative sources. So, we used other tools to find the exact location.

Evidence I: Close observation and magnification of the image shows women in burqa walking on the road.

This indicates that it cannot be a site of Hindu pilgrimage.

Evidence II : A basic Google search for ‘white tents in Saudi Arabia’ showed results for Mina Valley. The tents seen in the image below of Mina Valley are similar to those in the disputed picture. The tents have a peculiar pattern with a conical structure placed on top of the tent. Moreover, the manner in which the air conditioners are placed are similar.

These tents are clearly different from the tents pitched for Kumbh Mela in Uttar Pradesh as seen below.

Evidence III: The location in the image is next to King Khalid Bridge in Mina Valley

We decided to find the exact location of the image in Mina Valley using Google Maps.

A landmark that stands out in the image is the arched flyover.

BOOM located the flyover on Google Maps and found it merging into the King Khalid Bridge, Mina Valley.

Click here for the link to the map.

Upon navigating the map, BOOM found that the infrastructure seen along the road towards the bridge is similar to that seen in the image. Here are a few features that we found matching.

Evidence IV: Upon searching for ‘Mina’ and ‘Haj’ on Twitter, we found a video clip by @MadinahDate which gives an aerial view of the location. From 0.20 seconds of the clip you can see the the start of the arched flyover merging into King Khaled Bridge, corroborating what we found using Google Maps.

Evidence V: BOOM also found an Arabic news article by  Al-manara.net filed on August 2018 which says that the image is from Mina Valley during Hajj.

Mina valley known as the tent city is located around 7 kms away from Mecca. It accommodates more than 3 million Hajj pilgrims.

(This article has been published in arrangement with BOOM.)

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