Allahabad or Prayag is also called the “Tirth Raj”, the king of all pilgrimage centers. The city of Allahabad is among the largest cities of Uttar Pradesh and is situated at the confluence of three rivers – Ganga, Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati. The meeting point is known as ‘Triveni’ and is especially sacred to Hindus. The earlier settlements of the Aryans were established in this city, then known as Prayag. Its sanctity is manifest by references to it in Purans, the Ramayan and the Mahabharata. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma, the creator God of the Trinity, chose a land on earth (i.e. Prayag) to perform ‘Prakrista Yag’, at the beginning of the creation and he also referred to it as ‘Tirth Raj’ or the ‘King of all pilgrimage centres’. As per writing of ‘Padam Puran’ – “As the sun is amongst the moon and the moon amongst the stars, likewise ‘Prayag’ is best amongst all places of pilgrimage”.
Emperor Akbar founded this city in 1575 AD by the 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 holi ‘Yamuna’. Allahabad today is an important city where history, culture and religion create a magical confluence, much like the sacred rivers that caress this blessed land. Due to its religious importance, many pilgrims come to Allahabad in the bathing season, the Hindu month of Magh (mid January to mid-february), to purify themselves. During this month, a great gathering and fair called Magh Mela takes place on the sands. Every 12th year when the waters are felt to be especially purifying, Allahabad holds a much greater festival called Kumbh Mela. Many millions of pilgrims attend this festival, coming from all over India. It is believed that bathing during Kumbh cures the bather of all sins and evils and grants the bather salvation.
Places of Interest
The sacred Sangam is the confluence of three of the holiest rivers in Hindu mythology – Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. It is believed that it is at the Sangam, that a few drops of the nectar ‘Amrit” spilled making its waters truly magical. Around 7 Kms. From Civil Lines,overlooked by the eastern ramparts of the Allahabad fort, wide flood plains and muddy banks protrude towards the sacred Sangam. Pandas (Priests) perch on small platforms to perform puja and assist the devout in their rituals ablutions in the shallow water. Pilgrims come to offer pind for their deceased parents and make offerings of their ancestors. Boats at the Sangam, used by pilgrims and tourists alike, can be rented at the ghat immediately east of the fort, for a minimum rate of Rs. 12/- per head. The holy Sangam is the site for Annual Magh Mela/Ardh Kumbh/Kumbh Mela.
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.
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 (with 108 Shivas around).
Mankameshwar Temple –
Situated near Saraswati Ghat, on the banks of Yamuna, this is one of the famous Shiva Temples of Allahabad.
Bhardawaj Ashram –
Situated opposite to Anand Bhawan. It is said that Lord Ram with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman stayed in this ashram during their Vanvas. Muni Bharadwaj ran the ashram on the bank of river Ganga during those days. A group of temples are now present there.
When to go
Allahabad is all season city,but its good to avoid summer months.
Getting there and around
There is no direct air link to Allahabad. However, the near Airports are Varanasi (147 kms.) and Lucknow (210 kms.).
The city has direct rail connections with important cities viz. Calcutta, Delhi, Patna, Guwahati, Chennai, Mumbai, Gwalior, Meerut, Lucknow, Kanpur and Varanasi.
Allahabad is on National Highways 2 and 27.It is connected to the rest of the country by good, motorable all-weather roads.
Allahabad has number of Hotels.Some of these are Hotel Yatrik,Hotel Presidency,Hotel Allahabad Regency,Hotel Taoosi,Hotel Prayag,Mayur Guest House.There are also some Dharamshalas, that provide accomodation at very nominal charges.
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