Allahabad is among the largest cities in Uttar Pradesh. Hindu mythology has it that for the Prakrishta Yaina, Lord Brahma, the creator God of the Trinity, chose a land on earth, on which the three rivers would flow in to a quiet confluence. Brahma also referred to it as `Tirth Raj’ or the `king of all pilgrimage centres’. Recorded evidence also exists in the revered scriptures – the Vedas and the grand epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, as also in the Puranas – of this holy place formerly called Prayag. Allahabad stands at the confluence of two of India’s holiest rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna. Sangam, as the confluence is called, is the venue of many sacred fairs and rituals, and attracts thousands of pilgrims throughout the year. This number swells to millions during the world-famous Kumbh Mela. A third mythical Saraswati river, believed to flow underground towards the Sangam, gives the confluence its other name ‘Triveni’.
Emperor Akbar founded this city in 1575 and called it by name of `Illahabas’, which has now become modern Allahabad. The monarch realized its strategic importance as a waterway landmark in North India and also built a magnificent fort on the banks of the holy Sangam.
Over the centuries that followed, Allahabad remained on the forefront of national importance – more so, during the days of the Indian independence struggle. The chequered history of Allahabad with its religious, cultural and historical ethos also gave rise to several renowned scholars, poets, writers, thinkers, statesmen and leaders.
The city being an important cantonment during the British Raj has some beautiful remnants of colonial architecture. In the early 20th century, Allahabad University was the foremost center of learning in the country.
Allahabad, today is an important city where history, culture and religion create a confluence … much like the sacred rivers that caress this God-graced land.
General Information :
Area : 63.07 Sq. km.
Population : 1022365 (1991 census)
Altitude : 98 meters above sea level.
Season : November – February
Clothing : Summer – Light Cottons; Winter : Woollen
Language : Hindi, English, Urdu.
Festivals : Magh Mela, Kumbh Mela, Ardh Kumb Mela, Dussehra.
STD Code : 0532
Air : There is no air link to Allahabad. Nearest Airports are Varanasi (147 km) and Lucknow (210 km).
Rail : Allahabad is well connected by trains with all major cities, viz. Calcutta, Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow and Mumbai.
Road : Allahabad, on National Highways 2 and 27, is connected to all parts of the country by good roads. Some important road distances are: Agra (433 km), Ahmedabad (1207 km), Ayodhya (167 km), Bhopal (680 km), Calcutta (799 km), Chennai (1790 km), Chitrakoot (137 km), Delhi (643 km), Hyderabad (1086 km), Jaipur (673 km), Jhansi (375 km), Khajuraho (294 km), Mumbai (1444 km), Lucknow (204 km), Nagpur (618 km), Patna (368 km), Trivandrum (2413 km), Udaipur (956 km), Varanasi (125 km).
SIGHT SEEING & EXCURSION :
Sangam – Around 7 km from Civil Lines, overlooked by the eastern ramparts of the fort, wide flood plains and muddy banks protrude towards the sacred Sangam. At the point at which the brown Ganges meets the Greenish Yamuna, pandas (priests) perch on small platforms to perform puja and assist the devout in their ritual ablutions in the shallow waters. Beaches and ghats are littered with the shorn hair of pilgrims who come to offer pind for their deceased parents.
Boats to the Sangam, used by pilgrims and tourists alike, can be rented at the ghat immediately east of the fort, for the recommended government rate of Rs 12 per head. However, most pilgrims pay around Rs 36 and you can be charged as much as Rs 150. Official prices for a whole boat are between Rs 100 and Rs 120 but can soar to more than Rs 250 during peak seasons. On the way to the Sangam, high-pressure aquatic salesmen loom up on the placid waters selling offerings such as coconuts for pilgrims to discard at the confluence. Once abandoned, the offerings are fished up and sold on to other pilgrims – a blatant if efficient form of recycling.
The sacred Sangam is the confluence of three of the holiest rivers in Hindu mythology – Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. At the Sangam, the waters of the Ganges and the Yamuna can be distinctly seen to merge into one. It is during the Kumbh/Ardh Kumbh that the Sangam truly comes alive … attracting the devout from all across the country.
The holy Sangam is the site for Annual Magha Mela/Ardh Kumbh/Kumbh Mela. Boats are available for visitors.
Allahabad Fort – The massive fort built by emperor Akbar in 1583 A.D., the fort stands on the banks of the Yamuna near the confluence site. In its prime, the fort was unrivalled for its design, construction and craftsmanship. This huge, majestic fort has three magnificent galleries flanked by high towers. At present is used by the army and only a limited area is open to visitors.The magnificent outer wall is intact and rises above the water”edge. Visitors are allowed to see the Ashokan Pillar and Saraswati Kup, a well, said to be the source of the Saraswati river and Jodhabai Palace. The Patalpur temple is also here. So is the much revered Akshaya Vat or immortal Banyan tree.
Patalpuri Temple – Within this underground temple, inside the fort, lies the Akshaya Vat – or the immortal tree. Believed to have been visited by Lord Rama, the temple was also seen by the famous Chinese traveller and writer Hiuen Tsang during his visit to this place.
Ashoka Pillar – This gigantic Ashoka pillar, of polished sandstone stands 10.6 meters high, dating back to 232 B.C. The pillar has several edicts and a Persian inscription of Emperor Jahangir inscripted on it, commemorating his accession to the throne.
Akshaya Vat – The immortal tree within the Patalauri temple, has found mention in the description of several ancient scriptures, writers and historians. The tree stands in a deep niche above an underground shaft, which is said to lead to Triveni.
Visitors need permission to visit the Fort, Patalpuri Temple, Ashoka Pillar and AkshayaVat from Commandant, Ordinance Depot, Fort, Allahabad. Phone: 6064738, Extn. 213.
Hanuman Mandir – Near the Sangam, this temple is unique in North India, for its supine image of Hanumana. Here the big idol of Lord Hanumana is seen in a reclining posture. When the Ganga is in spate, this temple gets submerged.
Shankar Viman Mandapam – 130 feet high with four floors, it has the idols of Kumaril Bhatt, Jagatguru Shankaracharya, Kamakshi Devi (with 51 Shaktipeethas around), Yogsahastra Sahastrayoga Linga (2ith 108 Shivas around).
Mankameshwar Temple – Situated near Saraswati Ghat, on the banks of Yamuna, this is one of the famous Shiva Temples of Allahabad.
Swaraj Bhawan – The old Anand Bhawan, which in the year 1930 was donated to the Nation by Moti Lal Nehru, to be used as the headquarters of the Congress Committee. Moti Lal Nehru renamed it as Swaraj Bhawan. Late Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi was born here.
Anand Bhawan – The erstwhile ancestral home of the Nehru family. Today it has been turned into a fine museum. Here, many momentous decisions, events, related to the freedom struggle took place. The main building houses a museum which displays the memorabilia of the Nehru family.
Kaushambi – Situated at around 62 km from Allahabad. It is a place traditionally associated with the Mahabharata, the city was also once a great Buddhist centre. Lord Buddha is believed to have visited Kaushambi twice to deliver discourses. The ruins of an ancient fort bear witness to the antiquity of the place. There are also remains of an monastery.