Situated on the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati, Allahabad is among the holiest cities associated with Hinduism. Situated in eastern Uttar Pradesh, the city was earlier known as Prayag. It is one of the four sites where the Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years. The confluence of Ganga, Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati, is also called Triveni or Sangam. It is a revered site and Hindus believe a dip in the holy water washes off sins.
The Mughal fort and tombs, British-era buildings and the monuments associated with the Nehru family are bound to interest travelers as much as the legends associated with the city.
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma chose Prayag as the place to perform Prakrista Yagna at the beginning of the creation of universe.
Legend says when Devas and Rakhasas fought for the bowl of nectar of immortality which came out after the churning of the ocean, four drops of nectar fell on earth. Kumbh Mela is held at the four places – Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik – where drops of nectar fell.
The place is also mentioned in Chinese traveler Huan Tsang’s travelogues. According to him, Allahabad was part of Harshavardhan’s empire. Several dynasties are known to have ruled this city.
In 1575, the Moghul emperor Akbar visited Prayag and renamed the city Illahabad, which was later anglicized to Allahabad. Allahabad became the provincial capital city of the Moghuls. The city was also invaded by the Marathas. Queen Victoria’s Proclamation of 1858 by which power was transferred from East India Company to British Crown was read out by Lord Canning in Allahabad. The place is now known as Minto Park. Allahabad became the hot spot of India’s freedom movement against the British rule. Allahabad played an active role during the mutiny of 1857. The city has given India most number of Prime Ministers post independence.
Allahabad is renowned worldwide for Kumbh Mela, held every 12 years. One of the sacred Hindu festivals, thousands of pilgrims gather to take a dip at the Sangam. The festival lasts for six weeks and is held during January–February. Last Maha Kumbh was held in 2001 and the next Kumbh Mela is scheduled in 2013. Ardh (half) Kumbh Mela is held once in six years between two Purna Kumbh Melas.
Allahabd has been a seat of learning for a long time. Various dignitaries like Subhadra Kumari Chauhan and Harivansh Rai Bachchan were born here. In the 19th century, Allahabad was referred to as the ‘Oxford of the East’. The city has been home to several Prime Ministers of India. Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Gulzarilal Nanda,Vishwanath Pratap Singh and Chandra Shekhar were either born in Allahabad or were alumni of Allahabad University or got elected from a constituency in Allahabad. In the early 20th century, University of Allahabad was the foremost center of learning.
The city being an important cantonment during the British Raj has some beautiful remnants of colonial architecture. In the early 20th century, University of Allahabad was the foremost center of learning in the country.
Fruits like guavas and mangoes of this city are very famous. Small brass pots containing water from river Ganga sealed with wax are found near the Sangam. These make a very good souvenir.
Allahabad Boat Club offers a range of water sports on the Yamuna river. There are pedal boats, kayaks, speed boats available for hire. Various water sports like waterskiing, parasailing, kayaking, canoeing, wind surfing can be enjoyed here.
WHERE TO STAY
There are several options for stay in Allahabad at convenient distance from the railway station and bus depots. An economy room will cost you a minimum of Rs 1000. Air-conditioning will be required as it is generally warm throughout the peak summer months. One can also get deluxe rooms which offer transport services, and also extra facilities like swimming pools and health clubs are also available. Hotels in the city also organize trips around the city.
WHERE TO EAT
Allahabad is a modern city and finding good restaurants shouldn’t be a problem. The Moghlai cuisine of Allahabad is very famous and one shouldn’t miss the Mogul themed restaurants here. There are various dishes and options to satisfy your taste-buds. Loknath area of the city is a favorite spot for foodies, offering street-food and typical Ilahabadi culture. There are budget as well as mid-range restaurants available throughout the city. Most restaurants do not offer liquor on their menu. Besides, drinking alcohol in public is frowned upon, while drinking in family restaurants is not allowed at all.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Best season to visit Allahabad is from October to March. This period is good for sight-seeing and participating in public celebrations. July to September are cooler compared to summers and good for leisurely vacations. Avoid April to June as it is too hot.
WHAT TO SEE
Allahabad Fort: The majestic fort built by Moghul emperor Akbar in 1583, has three magnificent galleries flanked by high towers. Currently, the Indian Army uses the fort and not all parts of the fort are open for visitors. Saraswathi Koop, a well believed to be the origin of the river Saraswati, is also inside the fort. Visitors need permission from Commandant, Ordinance Depot, Fort to enter the fort.
Ashoka Pillar: The 10.6 m high pillar of polished sandstone dates back to 232 BC. Located inside the Allahabad Fort, the pillar has several edicts of Emperor Ashoka.
Khusro Baug: Historic walled garden created by Moghul Emperor Jahangir, in memory of his beloved son Khusro. Khusro was murdered by his brother Shah Jahan. The garden has the tomb of the murdered prince. The garden is also famous for Guavas and mangoes.
Triveni Sangam: Also called Sangam, it is the meeting of three rivers – Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswathi. Watching the sunrise and sunset at the Triveni is an amazing experience. Kumbh Mela (held once in 12 years), Ardhkumbh Mela (held once in 6 years), and Maha Mela (held every year) are held on the banks of the Sangam.
Allahabad Planetarium: Also called Jawahar Planetarium, it was built in 1979 to promote scientific thinking and research. Five shows are held every day. Each show features interesting and intriguing aspects related to space and astronomy. Children below 5 years are not allowed. It is closed on Mondays and central government holidays.
Allahabad Museum: Inaugurated in 1947, the museum has separate galleries showcasing archaeological findings, natural history exhibits, art gallery and terracotta artifacts. The museum also displays documents and personal belongings of Jawaharlal Nehru and exhibits related to the Indian freedom struggle. Open between 10:30 am and 5 pm, it is closed on Mondays and central government holidays.
Anand Bhavan: Mansion built by Motilal Nehru in the nineteenth century, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi were born here. The main building has been converted into a museum displaying the memorabilia of the Nehru–Gandhi family. Anand Bhavan is open between 9:30 am and 5 pm. Entry to other places of Anand Bhavan is free. Closed on Mondays and central government holidays.
Minto Park: Situated on the banks of river Yamuna, west of Allahabad Fort. It was from here that Lord Canning read out Queen Victoria’s Proclamation of 1858 by which power was transferred from East India Company to British Crown. In 1910 Lord Minto laid the foundation for the park. The main attraction of the park is the four lion statues atop a white stone memorial.
Bharadwaj Ashram. According to Ramayana, it is the hermitage of sage Bharadwaj. Also has a temple dedicated to Prayagraj, Lord of Prayag.
Dashaswamedh Temple: According to mythology, it was the place where Bramha performed Parikshit Yajna.
All Saint’s Cathedral: Situated on MG road, All Saint’s Cathedral was built in the 19th century in Gothic style. It was designed by Sir William Emerson, who also designed Victoria Memorial, Kolkata. Stained-glass murals are worth a visit.
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Allahabad is as given below. The best time to visit Allahabad is also specified.