More than 2 million Muslim pilgrims from around the world braved heavy rain and thunderstorms to participate in the annual Hajj rites in Mina Saudi Arabia.
Dressed in all white to symbolize purity, hundreds of thousands of worshippers began the five-day religious ritual that is considered an obligation for every able-bodied Muslim.
The pilgrimage focuses on the holy city of Mecca, the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad. It is the largest pilgrimage in the world and is to be performed at least once by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.
Here are some of the most fascinating and beautiful photos from the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Muslim worshippers circumambulate around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage
Muslim Hajj pilgrims touch the Kaaba stone as they circumambulate around the Kaaba located in the center of the Masjid al-Haram.
A little girl offers prayers at the Grand Mosque.
Two kids fall asleep in stroller as pilgrims arrive at the plains of Arafat on the eve of the annual Hajj pilgrimage outside the holy city of Mecca.
Muslim pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat.
A Muslim pilgrim prays as he gathers with others on Mount Mercy.
Saudi men are pictured inside sleep pods in Mecca. The free nap pods are part of new measures Saudi Arabia is rolling out this year in a bid to modernize the centuries-old practice of hajj.
Muslim pilgrims visit the Jabal al-Nour (al-Noor mountain) and Hira Cave during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
A Muslim pilgrim takes a video with his mobile phone while others circle the Kaaba and pray at the Grand mosque.
Muslim pilgrims gather on Mount Mercy.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Mustafa Ciftci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images