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|Allahabad is one place where the remains of the dead take rest and leave for the ethereal abode, and get rid of their eternal cycle of birth and rebirth. Allahabad is also the land where some of India’s most charismatic people have either taken birth or made it their permanent abode.
Situated in Uttar Pradesh, at a distance of 238 km from the state capital Lucknow, Allahabad is one of the holiest cities of India and a prominent centre for culture, administration, and education. The city finds mention in
|the sacred scriptures, including the Vedas, Puranas, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata, as Prayag. The city is especially sacred for the Hindus, as it is here that the Ganga, Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati meet. Because of the confluence of three rivers, it is also called the Sangam. The Kumbh Mela is held here after every twelve years.
Being a city with a rich history, Allahabad offers many sightseeing options to the tourists. History buffs would have a great time visiting the Allahabad Fort and Khusrau Bagh while the spiritually inclined would find peace of mind at the ghats of the Sangam, Patalipuri Temple and Hanuman Mandir. Besides, there are various places that are associated with India’s freedom struggle like Anand Bhawan and Swaraj Bhawan.
The vicinity of Allahabad is dotted with many places of tourist attractions, both historical and religious. Jhusi (also Pratisthanpuri) is a serene place dotted by ashrams and temples. Barely 9 km from Allahabad, it is a hot favourite among the tourists. Another notable place is Kaushambi (62 km), which finds mention even in the Mahabharata. Kara (70 km), Sringverpur (40 km), and Bhita (20 km) are some other places that are worth visiting.
||The Kumbh Mela, held after every 12 years, is the greatest of north Indian festival-fairs. It attracts millions of devotees from all over the world who congregate at Allahabad on the banks of the holy river to wash their sins and gain redemption. If the Kumbh falls on a Monday, it is called the Somvati Amavasya and is considered to be the most auspicious moment. A dip in the Sangam at that moment is supposed to increase the spiritual benefits manifold.
The last Kumbh Mela was held at the Sangam in January 2001.
The Sangam is one of the most sacred places of the Hindus. Situated around 7 km from Civil Lines, it is the meeting point of three holy rivers—Ganga, Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati. Pandas (priests) can be seen here perched on small platforms performing puja and assisting the devout in their ritual ablutions in the shallow waters. The Sangam becomes a hub of activity after every 12 years when it hosts the Kumbh Mela.
The strategic location of Prayag proved decisive in motivating Akbar to build the Allahabad Fort near the Sangam in AD 1583. One is awed by the art, architecture, design, and craftsmanship of the fort. The Indian army now uses the fort and only a part of it is open to the visitors. This huge, majestic fort has three magnificent galleries flanked by high towers. Visitors are allowed to see the Ashoka Pillar, Saraswati Kup (a well, said to be the source of the river Saraswati), and Jodhabai Palace.
PATALPURI TEMPLE AND AKSHAYA VAT
This is an underground temple located inside the Allahabad Fort. The temple is famous as the place where Lord Rama worshipped once. It also finds mention in the travelogue of the Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang, who visited India in AD 644. The famous Akshaya Vat (literally, Immortal Tree), one of the most revered tree of the Hindus, is also located within the temple. A permit from the Ordnance Depot or the Tourist Office is required for visiting the Patalpuri Temple and the Akshaya Vat.
|Anand Bhawan is the ancestral home of the Nehrus. Here one is offered a glimpse of the lifestyle of the family that retained for a long time the status of the most important political dynasty in India. Anand Bhawan now houses one of the finest museums of India and a memorabilia of the Nehru–Gandhi family.
Swaraj Bhawan, lying close to Anand Bhawan, is the house where the former Prime Minister of India Mrs. Indira Gandhi was born. Built by Pt. Moti Lal Nehru, the building was donated to the nation in 1930 to be used as the headquarters of the Congress Committee. Today, the Swaraj Bhawan houses the Jawaharlal Nehru Trust.
This is a large garden where the tombs of Khusrau, his sister, and his Rajput mother are located. Khusrau was the son of emperor Jahangir who had made many unsuccessful attempts to assassinate his father and take the reigns in his hands. However, he was murdered by his own brother Shahjahan in the end.
||The Hanuman Mandir is a unique temple in the vicinity of the Allahabad Fort. It is renowned for the supine image of the monkey-god Hanuman. This is the only temple to have Hanuman in a reclining posture. Though a very small temple, it is thronged by hundreds of devotees everyday.
Excursions for Allahabad
Bhita (20 km) is an archaeological site on the banks of the Yamuna River. Recent excavations at this site have brought to light the remains of an ancient city dating back to 300 BC. A museum housing stone and metal seals and various terracotta statues is also located here.
With its many ashrams and temples, Jhusi (Pratisthanpuri) is a tranquil spot that offers peace of mind to the visitor. It is barely 9 km from Allahabad, and can be reached by taxis, buses, boats, etc.
Situated on the banks of the Ganges at a distance of around 70 km from Allahabad, Kara’s claim to fame is the Temple of Shitala Devi. Once the provincial capital of the Mughals, the landscape of Kara is dotted with ruins that extend up to 3.5 km along the Ganges. Apart from the temple dedicated to Shitala Devi, the Jama Masjid, the Samadhi of Sant Maluk Das, Hanuman Temple, Kshetrapal Bhairav Temple, Kaleshwar Mahadev Temple, Dargah of Khwaja Karak and Shivala Maharishi Ashram are the main attractions of Kara.
Kaushambi (62 km) is a place traditionally associated with the Mahabharata. The city was once a great Buddhist centre. Lord Buddha is believed to have visited Kaushambi twice to deliver discourses. The ruins of an ancient fort and a monastery bear witness to the antiquity of the place.
Shringverpur is a historical site located at a distance of around 40 km from Allahabad. It was once the capital city of the kingdom of Nishadraj (King of Boatmen). Legend has it that Lord Rama stayed here overnight while going to the forest. Before steering Rama across the Ganga in his boat, his feet were washed by Nishadraj.
Allahabad Fact File
• Area 63.07 sq. km
• Population 806,486
• Altitude 98 m above sea level
• Languages Hindi, English, and Urdu
• Best time to visit November-February
• STD code 0532