Allahabad evokes a sense of sanctity and conjures up images of rivers, temples and Mughals. Also referred to as Parayag and Illahabad, it is well known for Sangam (the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswathi), which plays a significant role in Hinduism. Prayag is one the four spots where Kumbh mela, which is considered to be the largest religious gathering in the world is held. The city is well known for its numerous temples which are strewn across its various streets and corners. While it was under the rule of Akbar, the city was rechristened as Illahabad from Prayag and got its present name, Allahabad, when British took over. Allahabad is equally soaked in history as much as it is in mythical stories, and is well known for its cultural tourism, historical buildings and monuments. Mughals and the pre- independence era has brought the city a lot of limelight that it holds a very special place in the historical books. Long rule of the Mughals has made the city popular for its delectable mughalai cuisines as well.
Soak in the ambiance of Kumbh Mela
The largest religious gathering in the world is held at four locations across the country and Allahabad happens to be the most prominent one. This is one huge festival spread over a few weeks and is held at the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathi. The mela area has hundreds of tea stalls, numerous pontoons to cross over to the other bank, confusing intersections, shops selling everything from blankets to temple paraphernalia, hundreds of camps, thousands of tents and lakhs of visitors. This magnanimous religious gathering is an electric synthesis of pilgrims from world over and is a must visit. Kumbh mela happens once in 12 years and Ardh kumbh mela takes place once in every 6 years. The last Kumbh mela at Allahabad was held in 2013. An annual Magh Mela is also held in Allahabad around the Sangam areas in the month of January.
Attain salvation with a dip at Sangam
The confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mystical Saraswathi is known as Sangam, where millions of pilgrims take a dip every year. The holy bath of pilgrims signifies their faith, belief and the quest for salvation. Though many take a dip near the bank, the actual confluence is away from the bank and can be approached only by a boat. It is well recommended to take a dip at the exact confluence, rather than near the banks.
An early morning boat ride on Yamuna is an ideal way to begin the day in Allahabad. Wrapped in the early morning mist, Yamuna looks serene and the frames are delightful. Catch the morning rays as the boat wades past the fluttering gulls, the numerous ghats and the intimidating Allahabad fort. At the confluence one can easily discern the green Yamuna from the brown Ganga. Yamuna joins the Ganga and then they flow together eastward.
Soak in the essence of the city with a cycle rickshaw ride
Allahabd is best explored on a cycle rickshaw, as slow as you can. As you ride, take in a whiff of the city, capture frames from the streets and enjoy the local delicacies from food stalls. The best places for a ride are chowk area and old city. During Kumbh mela, it becomes quite vibrant with colours, people, stalls and much more.
Get charmed by the Gothic Cathedral
This Gothic structure, popularly known as Pathar Girja in local circles is one of the oldest churches in India. All Saints` Cathedral was designed by William Emerson and construction of the same began in the year 1877. Intimidating as well as beautiful, it has exquisite stonework in both white stone and red sandstone stands. This magnificent structure which also has marble lavishly used, stands amidst a grass compound at a major cross road which makes it visible from all directions.
Gaze at the wonderful architectures of Khusro bagh
Named after Khusro, the elder son of the Mughal emperor, Jehangir, Khusro Bagh is well known for its gorgeous tombs in mughal architecture. There are four tombs here which are Khusro's, his mother's, his sister's and Bibi Tamolan's. Built in early 17th century, the walkways and tombs are wrapped in mughal inscriptions, artworks and paintings. With a well laid out garden and tombs adorning exquisite mughal architecture and frescoes, Khusro bagh is one of the most recommended places of visit in Allahabad for history and architecture lovers.
Immerse in the historical Azad park
Chandrashekar Azad park also known as company bagh is a huge serene park which houses the public library and Allahabad museum. The huge museum has numerous galleries with a plethora of displays which includes terracotta paintings, wood work, handicrafts, metal and armoury from pre-independence and medieval period. This is the park where freedom fighter Chandrashekar Azad shot himself before the British could capture him. The park is steeped in history and is an ideal place to soak in the stories from British era.
Visit the temples
Being a spiritual town, Allahabad is well known for its numerous temples. Mankmeshwar temple is situated by the ghats which lead to River Yamuna. Shankar vimana mandapam with 3 floors has a South Indian style architecture and a nice panoramic view of the mela area. This colourful temple has Kanchi Kamakshi, Tirupati Balaji ad Shivalingam on each of its floors. Bade Hanuman Mandir next to Shriram Janki mandir is another popular temple in the town. The lete Hanuman (Lying down position) attracts quite a crowd during the day.
Explore Allahabad Fort
Built in the year 1583, by Akbar, Allahabad fort is situated near the confluence. It is one of the largest forts built by Akbar and has undergone numerous restorations over the years. At the entrance of the fort is a 35 feet high Ashoka Pillar made of stone. Akshay Vat or the undying Banyan tree is another point of interest inside the fort. Only a portion of the fort is open to public due to security reasons.
Visit Anand Bhawan and Swaraj Bhawan
This is where the inquisitive history lovers would want to head to while in Allahabad. An ideal place to learn and the struggles of independence. It also houses many galleries and personal belongings of the Nehru family.
Relish the Mughalai cuisine
Allahabad is well known for its mouth watering Mughalai delicacies. Before you leave this historic town, explore the best of the cuisines in the crowded Loknath area.
Lucknow- 204 Kms
Varanasi- 122 Kms
Closest Airport- Allahabad airport (12 Kms from city)
Closest Railhead- Allahabad junction
Best time to visit- All through the year (Summers might be harsh).