. A city of many dimensions is what befits a description of Allahabad. In addition to being a major pilgrimage centre, the city has played an important part in the formation of modern India. Hindu mythology states that Lord Brahma, the creator god, chose a land for 'Prakrishta Yajna'. This land, at the confluence of three holy rivers - Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, blessed by gods, came to be known as 'Prayag' or 'Allahabad'.
Foreseeing the sanctity of the place, Lord Brahma also called it as 'Tirth Raj' or 'King of all pilgrimage centres.' The Scriptures - Vedas and the great epics - Ramayana and Mahabharata, refer to this place as Prayag.
Centuries followed. Allahabad became the headquarters of North Western Provinces, after being shifted from Agra. Well preserved relics of the British impact includes the Muir College and the All Saints Cathedral.
Many important events in India's struggle for freedom, took place here - the emergence of the first Indian National Congress in 1885, the beginning of Mahatma Gandhi's non-violence movement in 1920.
. Around 7 km from Civil Lines, overlooked by the eastern ramparts of the fort, wide flood plains and muddy banks protrude towards the sacred Sangam. At the point at which the brown Ganges meets the Greenish Yamuna, pandas (priests) perch on small platforms to perform puja and assist the devout in their ritual ablutions in the shallow waters. Beaches and ghats are littered with the shorn hair of pilgrims who come to offer pind for their deceased parents.
Boats to the Sangam, used by pilgrims and tourists alike, can be rented at the ghat immediately east of the fort, for the recommended government rate of Rs 30 per head. However, most pilgrims pay around Rs 60 and you can be charged as much as Rs 150. Official prices for a whole boat are between Rs 100 and Rs 120 but can soar to more than Rs 250 during peak seasons. On the way to the Sangam, high-pressure aquatic salesmen loom up on the placid waters selling offerings such as coconuts for pilgrims to discard at the confluence. Once abandoned, the offerings are fished up and sold on to other pilgrims ??? a blatant if efficient form of recycling.
The sacred Sangam is the confluence of three of the holiest rivers in Hindu mythology ??? Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. At the Sangam, the waters of the Ganges and the Yamuna can be distinctly seen to merge into one. It is during the Kumbh/Ardh Kumbh that the Sangam truly comes alive attracting the devout from all across the country.
The holy Sangam is the site for Annual Magha Mela/Ardh Kumbh/Kumbh Mela. Boats are available for visitors.
. Hindus traditionally regard river confluences as auspicious places, more so the the Sangam at Allahabad, where the Yamuna and the Ganges meet the River of Enlightenment, the mythical Saraswati. According to legend, / Vishnu was carrying a Kumbh (pot) of Amrita (nectar), when a scuffle broke out between the gods, and four drops were spilled. They fell to earth at the four Tirthas of Prayag, Haridwar, Nasik and Ujjain (Tirtha means ford of a river) a place where the devout can cross from this finite world into divine celestial realms. The event is commemorated every three years by the Kumbh Mela, held at each tirtha in turn; the Sangam is known as Tirtharaja, the King of Tirthas, and its Mela, once every twelve years, is the greatest and holiest of all.
The Maha Kumbh Mela - the Great Kumbh Mela - is the largest religious fair in India, attended by literally millions of rejoicing the vast floodplains and river banks adjacent to the confluence are overrun by pilgrims, tents, organized in almost military fashion by the government, the local authorities and the police. The mela is especially renowned for the presence of an extraordinary array of religious ascetics - sadhus and mahants - enticed from remote hideaways in forests, mountains and caves. Once astrologers have determined the propitious bathing time or Kumbhayog, the first to hit the water are legions of Naga Sadhus or Naga Babas,who cover their naked bodies with ash, and wear hair in long dreadlocks. The sadhus, who see themselves as guardians of the faith, approach the confluence at the appointed time with all the pomp and bravado of a charging army.
. 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 Patalpuri temple is also here. So is the much revered Akshaya Vat or immortal Banyan tree.
. 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.
. The immortal tree within the Patalpuri 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.
. 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.
. 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 (2ith 108 Shivas around).
. Situated near Saraswati Ghat, on the banks of Yamuna, this is one of the famous Shiva Temples of Allahabad.
. It is situated near Saraswati Ghat, it has a stone memorial with a four-lion symbol on top, the foundation of which was laid by Lord Minto in 1910.
. The old Anand Bhawan, which in the year 1930 was donated to the Nation by Moti Lal Nehru, to be used as the headquarters of the Congress Committee. Moti Lal Nehru renamed it as Swaraj Bhawan. Late Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi was born here.
. The erstwhile ancestral home of the Nehru family. Today it has been turned into a fine museum. Here, many momentous decisions, events, related to the freedom struggle took place. The main building houses a museum which displays the memorabilia of the Nehru family.
. For a celestial trip of the scientific kind, visit the Planetarium. Its worth every moment.
Sai Dham Mandir
. This new Temple of Shirdi Sai Baba is situated at Dramnd Road near A.G. Office. A large number of tourist comes on Thrusday to visit.
. One of the most famous universities of India, it has a sprawling campus, graced by fine buildings in Victorian and Islamic architectural styles.
. The museum has a good collection of sculpture, especially of the Gupta era.
. Designed by William Emerson, this is an excellent mix of Gothic and Indian architectural elements. Commenced in 1874 and opened in 1886, it has an arcade quadrangle which is dominated by a 200 feet minaret tower in cream coloured sandstone from Mirzapur with marble and mosaic floors. The domes of the Indo-Saracenic structure are clad in Multan glazed tiles.
Chandra Shekar Azad Park
. Adjacent to the museum, This splendid park was once known as Company Bagh. It has some fine colonial buildings, including the public library. G.N. Jha research institute and the status od chandra Shekhar Azad. Dicated to great martyr chandra shekhar Azad who laid down his life fighting British force here.
All Saints Cathedral Patthar Girjaghar
. This magnificent cathedral, designed by Sir William Emerson in 1870 and consecrated in 1887, is the finest of Anglican Cathedal in Asia is faced in White Stone with red stone dressing. No one visiting the cathedral can fail to be impressed by the beauty of the marble altar with intricate inlay and mosaic work.
. A large garden in which tombs of Khusro, son of emperor Jahagir and Shah Begam are located.
. Standing at Chandra Shekhar Azad Park (Alfred park)l The memorial has a lofty tower and arcaded cloister. In 1879, the library was shifted to the present premises at Chandra Shekhar Azad Park (Alfred Park) It has about 75,000 books, besides a treasure trove of manuscripts and journals.
Mayo Memorial Hall
. Situated near the Thornhill and Myne Memorial, this large hall has a 180 feet high tower . The interior of this memorial hall was ornamented with designs by Professor Gamble of the South Kensington Museum, London. Completed in 1879 this hall was meant for public meetings, balls and receptions in commemoration of the assassinated Viceroy.
Bade Hanuman Temple
. Bade Hanuman Temple is a small ancient temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman and located at the Sangam side of the fort. Here, Statue of lord Hanuman is not in his usual standing posture but in a reclining posture few feet below the ground. Folklore has it, that every year River Ganges during the monsoon rises to reach the feet of Lord Hanuman before its level starts receding.