Allahabad is a city in the northern India. It has immense administrative and historical significance. It is also an important pilgrimage center. The city is located at the confluence of the Holy river of Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. This makes it a holy spot. Supposedly, this city of Prayag, later named Allahabad was described as the king of pilgrames by the god Brahma. The beauty of the city led the Mughal emperor Akbar name the city as Alllahabad meaning the home of God.
Location : State/District
Allahabad is the headquarter of the Allahabad district, of the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India.Allahabad is situated at latitude 25° 27' 0" N and longitude 81° 51' 0" E.
The rich history of Allahabad draws many different types of tourists to this place. while it is originally a pilgrimage site on the bank of the confluence of rivers Ganga and Yamuna, the city also has a number of interesting places related to the British rule and the Indian freedom struggle. It is thus a cultural and historical spot as well as a religious spot.
Popular Hindu Pilgrim Center
Thousands of Hindu pilgrim travel to the city of Allahabad to bathe in the holy confluence. The number swells to more than a million during the holy festival of Kumbh Mela. In addition to families undertaking pilgrimages, Allahabad is also visited by those who are interested in getting a glimpse of Indian history and culture.
The city has a tropical monsoon type of climate. Summers are scorching hot with bright sunshine and lasts from March till June. The monsoon months bring much needed rain and provide some relief to the people. This season lasts from July till the end of September. Winters last from November till February. The season is cool and pleasant though the temperature may sometimes fall quite low. This is the best time to visit the city.
Indian citizens do not require any special documents to visit the city of Allahabad. Foreign nationals must always carry a valid passport with an Indian visa in order to visit the city.
Places to Visit
The most important site to visit in Allahabad is the Sangam or the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. The last is a mythical river signifying enlightenment. This is a very holy spot and bathing at the Sangam is regarded as an important ritual. Boats are available to take the pilgrims to the spot of the confluence where the ablutions can be performed. Priests are seen sitting on small flat platform and helping devotees to worship at the sacred confluence. Close to this Sangam lies the Saraswati Ghat. This is also a popular spot for offering puja and lighted lamps are floated on the river from this ghat.
At the interval of every twelve years, the famous Maha Kumbh mela is held at the Sangam. It is the largest religious fair in India and draws millions of devotees. The most interesting sights are the various religious ascetics who visit the fare. A dip in the Sangam during this auspicious time is thought to provide a passage to the divine.
The Hanuman mandir lying near the Sangam is another important spot and is unique in India. This is because Lord Hanuman is shown in a reclining position here. According to local legend, when the rivers flood every year, the water rises to touch the feet of the idol before receding again.
The Allahabad fort is a huge structure constructed by the great Mughal emperor Akbar. It is located on the bank of the Yamuna and has three magnificent galleries. Most of the fort is used by the military and only a small area is open to visitors. The Saraswati kup located in the fort is an important landmark and is regarded as the source of the River Saraswati. The Patalpuri temple also lies inside the fort. This temple is famous for the Akshay vat or the immortal banyan tree. It is said to have been visited by Lord Rama. A mention of this tree is found in the accounts of the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang.
The Mankameshwar temple, devoted to Lord Shiva is situated near the Saraswati Ghat and attracts a number of pilgrims.
There are several historical and cultural attractions in Allahabad as well. The Ashoka pillar inside the fort is of considerable cultural interest. This sandstone pillar is 10.6mts high. A number of edits and a Persian inscription can be seen on this pillar.
The All Saints’ cathedral or the Patthar Girjaghar is a magnificent cathedral and one of the most beautiful Anglican cathedrals in Asia. White and red stones have been used to built this beautiful place of worship.
For those interested in the history of modern India, a visit to the Anand Bhawan – the family home of Jawaharlal Nehru and its adjoining Swaraj Bhawan is a must. Motilal Nehru, the father of Jawaharlal Nehru lived in this building for some time and his granddaughter Indira was born here. The houses have been converted into museums.
The most important activity to try out at Allahabad is to ride to the holy Sangam in a boat, take a dip in the holy confluence and perform worship there. Offerings are often floated on the river. Aarti is also offered at Saraswati Ghat and small lights are floated. Even if you are not interested in taking a dip in the holy waters, a boat ride can be an enjoyable and informative activity in Allahabad. You can see the steep wall of the fort and the puja and aarti being offered at the various ghats and different rituals are performed.
Another interesting activity in Allahabad is to attend the musical programs. The Prayag Sangeet Samity organizes programs of Indian classical music during evenings. These programs give a very good idea of the rich musical traditions of India.
You can also take part in several water activities with the help of Allahabad Boat Club. It offers boating, kayaking and also water skiing.
There are several important places to visit near Allahabad. The archeological site of Bhita at a distance of 20 kms, the Buddhist center of Kaushambi at a distance of 65 kms, the temple ruins at Gahrwa at a distance of 60 kms are some of the most interesting excursions from the city of Allahabad.
The hill of Chitrakoot is located 100 kms from Allahabad and is another beautiful spot. This is a holy hill supposedly visited by Lord Rama. A number of temples are found here.
Food & Accommodation
In addition to various tourist attractions, Allahabad is also an important commercial and political center. A variety of restaurants are available here and spicy north Indian foods are most commonly served. The El Chico, Shahenshah and Jade Garden are some of the leading eateries in the city. Kwality restaurant, Urban Masala, Fusion restaurant is other options. Pure vegetarian foods are served at the Govindraj restaurant. Food prices are quite reasonable.
There are a number of hotels of various ranges in the city. Hotels like Kanha Shyam, Ajay International, Prayag Inn charge between Rs 2000 and Rs 4000. While a vast number of budget hotels with tariff ranging from Rs 250 to Rs 2000 cater to the various tourists.
Safety and Security
Though the level of safety and security is quite high in the city, care should be taken in negotiating the rates when going for a boat ride to the Sangam or performing puja there as often exorbitant rates are demanded.