Allahabad: The Land Of Sangam

Allahabad is one of the oldest cities in India. It is crowned in ancient scriptures as ‘Prayag’, ‘Prayagraj’ or ‘Teertharaj’ and is considered the holiest of pilgrimage centres of India. It is situated at the confluence of three rivers- Ganga, Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati. The meeting point is known as Triveni or sangam and is very sacred to Hindus.

The Kumbh held in every six years and Mahakumbh in every 12 years at Allahabad are one of the largest gatherings of pilgrims in a single place of worship. The annual magh mela alone attracts many more pilgrims each year making it the land of magh.

Image Source: Vinothyadav (Flickr) 

About Allahabad

Allahabad is the oldest living city in India after Varanasi. The city is the Judicial capital of Uttar Pradesh with Allahabad High Court being the highest judicial body in the state.

The city’s original name Prayag or “place of offerings” – comes from its position at the Sangam (confluence) of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers. It plays a central role in Hindu scriptures, it is believed to be the spot where Brahma offered his first sacrifice after creating the world.
Although Prayag was renamed Ilahabad in 1575, the name later became Allahabad.

 

Location & How To Reach?

Allahabad is situated at the southern part of the state of Uttar Pradesh between the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna which makes it one of the holiest places in India. Spread over 82 sq. km this little town has a good network of roads and public transport making transportation easy.

Nearest railway station: Prayag Railway Station (centrally located)
Nearest airport: Allahabad airport, Bamrauli. (11km from main city)

 

Distance from nearby cities

Allahabad to Banaras: 130 kms (4 hours)
Allahabad to Lucknow: 201 kms (5 hours)
Allahabad to Delhi: 665 kms (10 hours)
Allahabad to Kanpur: 212 kms (4 hours)
Allahabad to Vrindavan: 546 kms (9 hours)
Allahabad to Agra: 429 kms (7 hours)

 

Getting in and around the City

For best experience, local hand-driven cycle-rickshaw is what one must go for. The slow steady ride with friendly, Allahabadi accented rickshaw-walas, will give you a very descriptive and imaginative tour with some free guidance.

From App based cab services like Ola to public transport, such as shared Autos and buses, are also available.

 

Things to Do & See In Allahabad

Triveni Sangam

Triveni Sangam is the auspicious spot which marks the confluence of three rivers: the Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythical Sarawasti. The three rivers maintain their visible identity and can be identified by their different colors and qualities: the water from the Ganges is clear, while the Yamuna is greenish in color, and the Saraswati is said to make its presence felt underwater. This is the holiest point in the deeply spiritual city of Allahabad, and a dip in the Triveni is believed to free one of all sins.

Timings: Best time to visit Sangam is to hire a boat and just row away at the break of dawn or dusk.

Image Source: Amresh Kumar (flickr)

Anand Bhawan

In the heart of the city you’ll find Anand Bhawan, the ancestral home of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. The bhawan also eventually became the home of Indira Gandhi, who was known as the ‘Iron Lady of India’ and was the first female Prime Minister of India.

At present, it has been turned into a splendid museum where you can learn about the Nehru family, which was not only instrumental in helping India gain freedom, but also gave India three Prime Ministers. Along with examining memorabilia belonging to the Nehru Family, guests can also glance through several bookshelves in the museum’s study. Another special feature is a separate room dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, where he used to stay during his visits to Allahabad.

Entry Fee: 10rs (Indian), 50rs (foreign)
Timings: 9.30 am-5 pm

Image Source: hawkeye (flickr)

Allahabad Fort

This ancient fort was said to have been originally built by the great emperor Ashoka, but was repaired by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1583, from which point it became one of the most prized citadels of the Mughal Empire. Today, the fort is under the control of the Indian Army, but one section of the fort is open to the public as a highly popular tourist attraction. This fort has three magnificent galleries which are flanked by high towers. Saraswati Koop (said to be the source of the holy river Saraswati) is one of the fort’s most popular features; other notable attactions include the Patalpuri temple and Akshaya Vat, a fig tree held sacred in Hindu mythology which is believed to be immortal. Do not miss the fort’s Ashoka Pillar, which was built back in 232 B.C under the Mauryan Empire.

There is no entry fee for going inside the fort, however you need special permission to see the whole fort from inside as it now acts as a military base for arms and ammunitions.

Timings: 7am-6pm

Image Source: juggadery (Flickr) 

Chandra Shekhar Azad Park

 Also known as Alfred park, is the largest park of the city with an area of 133 acres. It gained immense importance during the Indian Freedom Struggle: a famous encounter between the British police and Indian revolutionaries took place there, when one of India’s most famous revolutionaries Chandra Shekhar Azad got cornered while he was trying to escape. An hour-long fire exchange followed, with Azad opting to shoot himself rather than surrendering to his cause. This park was renamed as Chandra Shekhar Azad Park after independence, and an honorary statue of Azad now stands at the site of his death.

Entry fee: Rs 5
Timings: 5 am to 10 pm


Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

All Saints Cathedral

Popularly known as ‘Patthar Girija’, is one of the city’s most famous cathedrals and a revered sacred space among Allahabad’s citizens. The massive church building encompasses an area of approximately 1250 square meters, and is one of the most prized buildings from colonial India. Constructed in the 19th century, the entire cathedral is built in Gothic style, remarkably famous for the intricate work and designs done on the marble altar.

Timings: 8 am -8 pm (best time to visit is on Sundays when mass prayer takes place)

Image Source: Steve Kurian (Instagram) 

Khusro Bagh

Located close to Allahabad railway station is the beautiful Khusro Bagh, one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. This park holds immense historical significance, as it houses the tomb of Prince Khusro, one of the sons of Emperor Jahangir. The walled garden is a home to three mausoleums built in Mughal architectural style: apart from the tomb of the murdered prince, the garden also surrounds the tombs of Shah Begum, Khusro’s mother (died 1604), a Rajput princess and Jahangir’s first wife, and that of Princess Sultan Nithar Begam (died c.1624), Khusrau’s sister. The tombs are fine specimens of Mughal arts and architecture, elaborately decorated with fine stone carvings and motifs.

Timings: 6 am-7 pm

Image Source: Adam Jones (flickr) 

Alopi Devi Mandir

This temple is peculiar in that there is no statue of any deity in this temple, rather, there is a wooden carriage or ‘doli’ which is worshipped. The origin of the name, Alopi (disappeared) Bagh lies in the Hindu belief that after the death of his wife Sati, the grieving Lord Shiva travelled through skies with her dead body. Lord Vishnu, to relieve him from this agony, threw his Chakra at the corpse, resulting in the fall of various parts of the body at various places in India, which were sanctified by the touch of the Goddess’ body parts and hence were thereby deemed holy places for pilgrimage. The last part fell at this location thereby named as “Alopi” (where disappearance was concluded) and the holiest of all.

Timings:  4am (first Aarti) to 10am and 4 pm to 8pm (last Aarti)

Mankameshwar Temple

Situated on the banks of the Yamuna River, near Saraswati Ghat this place holds a lot of importance for hindus for its mythical relevance. Established by Surya Deva, the first abhishek was done by Goddess Sita. It is believed that Goddess Sita blessed the place and said that any wish asked here will be fulfilled. Following this, Vishwakarma also performed rituals there until the place became famous as the wish fulfilling lingum.

Timings: 4 am to 6 pm

Badey Hanuman Temple

It is situated very close to Triveni Sangam and offers a very beautiful view of the banks. The only Temple in the world with a resting idol,  Badey hanuman ji temple also known as ‘letey hanumanji’ offers the backstory of Lord Hanuman coming to Allahabad after the Fight of the Ramayana ended to rest on the banks of Sangam. Every monsoon season when rivers fill up, it enters the temple and gives a ritualistic holy  bath to the deity.

Timings: 4:30 am to 9 pm

 

Cultural Festivals

Kumbh Mela

Allahabad is home to one of the humans’ largest peaceful gathering for a religious festival called Kumbh Mela- which happens every 6 years (ardh kumbh) and 12 years (maha kumbh).  Lasting from January to February it happens during the holy month of magh and is considered a very pious ritual, it also becomes a very big tourist attraction owing to its crowd and spiritual value.

Image Source: Tamás Schild (Flickr)

Magh Mela

Magh mela is an annual fair held in the months of Jan and Feb marking the beginning of the magh month which is the holy month of Hindu Religion. Speciality of the Magh Mela is seen when people spend a sipiritual stay (kalpvaas) on the banks of sangam to live a simple devotional life. At the end of this mela a visual display of the whole Mahabharata is shown to the people.

Image Source: vmukherjee13  (Flickr) 

Triveni Mahotsav

Held in the pleasant month of February ‘triveni mahotsav’ is a cultural entertainment festival of Allahabad. Presented by the boat club and sponsored by the authorities of Allahabad it invites famous artistes from all over the country to perform on the banks of sangam.

Flower Show

Second weekend of February in Allahabad, experiences a beautiful display of flowers from all over the city, in Alfred Park. This two-day exbhition holds great importance to all the nature lovers of the city.

Shilp Mela

The month of December in Allahabad becomes host to textile and artwork exhibition of different states of the country. Shilp Mela is an arts and crafts display held on for 15 days, attracting people of all ages. Along with the exhibition several cultural performance of different states are also held.

Where to eat?

Allahabad is famous for street food having a mix of Mughal and Indian cuisine. Here are some of the most famous places to eat at.

Loknath

Situated at one of the oldest places in Allahabad- Chowk, this narrow lane is one of Allahabad’s first of what we call a food court now. Here, the chaterati of Allahabad would congregate, to gossip and eat. A typical Loknath Gali evening would follow this course: one start from the northern end of the street—the city side—and sauntered to the end of the lane at the Baba Loknath Temple.The first course would be an assortment of Nirala’s chaat, followed by dahi jalebi or kulfi faluda, stop by for bhang kulfi or bhang thandai. And as you waited for the kimam-khushbu paan at the end of the stroll, order a Hari namkeen’s masala samosa to be packed for home.

Hira Halwai

If you crave for warm, freshly made sweets Hira Halwai is the place to go. Situated on the side of the road, amidst a lot of greenery this small shop has been in Allahabadi’s favorites list since a very long time. From Gulab Jamuns to Baalushahis they have it all! And that too freshly made!

El chico

It is one of Allahabad’s most prestigious and old multi-cuisine restaurant, which has now also transformed into a bakery and confectionery. Up and running since 1964, El chico is known for its freshest, cleanest and finest cuisine.

Behrana Chaat

Located under and over-bridge this small little chaat corner has been there for almost a decade now. Serving people with the finest mix of chaats and pani puri it sure will make your day!

Best Time To Visit

Allahabad is one of the most important spiritual destinations in the state of Uttar Pradesh which makes the month of Magh (Jan to Feb) the best time to visit. Pleasant weather starts from November after monsoons and a streak of events start happening in and around the city, it extends till March and ensures a mix of cultural, natural and spiritual extravaganza.

 

Accommodation Options

Allahabad has a bunch of hotels to look forward to ranging from moderately budgeted to high priced with quality services. Mostly around Civil Lines area, which is the central hub of Allahabad, finding hotels is very easy.

Oyo rooms now getting popular are also another option to avail, however prices are dynamic depending upon the season.

Where to head next?

Varanasi / Banaras
(3 hours, 130 kms)

 Book bus tickets or rent a car to Banaras which is about 3.5-4 hour drive from Allahabad. Regarded as the spiritual capital of India, Varanasi is sure to take you away. Spend an evening sitting at Ghats watching Ganga Arti and feel the peace slowly seeping in with every chant.

Image Source: Joao Eduardo Figueiredo (Flickr) 

Lucknow:
(5 hours, 201 kms)

City Of Nawabs offers variety of food to relish upon and beautiful Mughal Architecture to see through. Capital of Uttar Pradesh is sure to make you want to visit it more often simply because of its cleanliness, grace and beautiful people.

Image Source: Jitendra Kumar (Flickr) 

Bandhavgarh:
(4 hours, 253 kms)

Bandhavgarh National Park is one of the popular national parks in India located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh. Bandhavgarh was declared a national park in 1968, with an area of 105 km2. The density of the tiger population at Bandhavgarh is one of the highest known in India. The park has a large breeding population of leopards, and various species of deer.

Image Source: Santu4799 (Flickr) 

Bhita
(1.5 hours, 22kms)

Bhita, an ancient city on the banks of the River Yamuna about 22 km away from Allahabad unravels the story of a culture more than 200 years old. Good number of antiquities have been recovered from here, among which Terracotta strands on the prime position.

 

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