Allahabad

Allahabad, one of the holiest cities in India, is in Uttar Pradesh. About 80 million people are expected to visit the kumbh mela- a record breaking gathering of people in Allahabad.

Understand

New Yamuna bridge, Allahabad

Allahabad is among the largest cities in Uttar Pradesh. Hindu mythology has it that for the Prakrishta Yajna, Lord Brahma, the creator God of the Hindu Trinity, chose a land on earth, on which the three rivers would flow in to a quiet confluence. Brahma also referred to it as Tirth Raj or the King of all pilgrimage centres. Recorded evidence also exists in the Hindu scriptures (the Vedas and the grand epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, as also in the Puranas) of this holy place formerly called Prayag. Allahabad stands at the confluence of two of India's holiest rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna. Sangam, as the confluence is called, is the venue of many sacred fairs and rituals, and attracts thousands of pilgrims throughout the year. This number swells to millions during the world-famous Kumbh Mela. An annual Magh Mela is also held in Allahabad around the Sangam areas in the month of January (Magh is the name of month in Hindu calendar). A third mythical Saraswati river, believed to flow underground towards the Sangam, gives the confluence its other name, Triveni.

Emperor Akbar renamed this city in 1575 and called it by 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 the holy Sangam.

Over the centuries that followed, Allahabad remained on the forefront of national importance, especially during the days of the Indian independence struggle. The chequered history of Allahabad with its religious, cultural and historical ethos also gave rise to several renowned scholars (M. N. Saha, Harishchandra, Ravindra Khattree, Amar Nath Jha), poets (Suryakant Tripathi Nirala, Mahadevi Verma, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Sumitra Nandan Panth), writers (Mahadevi Verma, Ramkumar Verma, Jagdish Gupta), thinkers (Purusottam Das Tandon), statesmen and leaders (Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlala Nehru, Murli Manohar Joshi) and the actor Amitabh Bachchan.

The city, an important cantonment during the British Raj, has some beautiful remnants of colonial architecture. In the early 20th century, University of Allahabad was the foremost center of learning in the country. Allahabad today is an important city where history, culture and religion create a confluence, much like the sacred rivers that caress it.

Allahabad used to have a thriving industrial suburb (Naini) till the 1980s, but then those public sector units started closing down one by one, forcing entire generations of young educated Allahabadis to migrate out of the city in search of work. Today, Allahabad is slowly inching along in its dream to be an IT hub. And the government administrative offices remain alive and kicking.

In Allahabad, you can enjoy

Get in

The best way to reach Allahabad, if you are coming from outside India, is to take a direct flight to Delhi and then take one of the numerous connecting trains from Delhi to Allahabad. The Kolkata Rajdhani express, though a better train, lands at a very odd hour in Allahabad (23:43) from Delhi which can be inconvenient for Allahabad being a really quiet place at night. Best train from Delhi to Allahabad is the PrayagRaj Express (Train No. 2418) which leaves from New Delhi Railway Station at 21:30 and arrives in Allahabad at 06:00 next day. The train runs every day. Newly launched is Duranto Express leaving Allahabad for New Delhi on Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays at 22:40 hours and reaches New Delhi at 06:05 the next day with number 2275. This is a non-stop service with AC1, AC2, AC3 and non-AC 3 Tier composition. Down service from New Delhi leaves on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 23.00 and reaches Allahabad at 06:20 the next day with number 2276. Fares are marginally higher than other superfast and express trains.

By plane

Allahabad Airport (IXD) also called Bamrauli Field is essentially a military base with a one-room passenger terminal and one commercial flight per day run by Air India (IC 7801). The flight departs Delhi and arrives in Allahabad after a brief stop in Kanpur. The plane then returns to Delhi. Baggage is hand delivered after arrival so wait in the terminal if you have checked luggage for it to be delivered. A new (2014) flight from Mumbai by Air India runs only on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

It is far easier to fly into Varanasi (120 km away) or Lucknow (200 km away), as both of these airports are much better served.

By train

Allahabad is situated on the trunk train route from Delhi to Kolkata and from Mumbai to Kolkata, so it is well-connected by trains. Innumerable trains stop at Allahabad.

The city has four railway stations, with   Allahabad Junction being the main station and where the majority of long distance trains call.   Allahabad City Station, in Rambagh, is often used by trains that terminate in the city.   Daraganj station is near the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna and useful for reaching the holy sites. In addition, a temporary railway station known as   Prayag Ghat is opened next to Daraganj during the important religious festivals for the better management and control of extra pilgrim traffic on those occasions. Finally, there's   Prayag station north of the city centre, near the university.

By bus

Allahabad is on NH2 and NH27 and is, therefore, well connected by road. Several buses ply to and from nearby cities and towns.

Get around

Hire a cyclerickshaw. It is the cheapest, best and most widely available means of transport. You will have to haggle for the prices, though.

Auto Rickshaws(3-Wheelers) are also cheap modes of travel inside the city.

City buses are available on certain routes but their arrivals and departures are unpredictable.

See

Dussehra

Kullu Dussehra - procession (2011)

Dussehra is another auspicious time to visit the colorful city. In every corner of the city famous 'Ramleela' is organized with zeal and enthusiasm. Every class of society participates in the festival. Ramleela of Pattharchatti and Pajawa are worthy of seeing. Famous 'Kali dance' is organized in Daraganj in late nights of 4th,5th and 6th days of Navratri. People horde in large numbers in narrow streets of Daraganj to see the dance.

During these very days, Durga puja is also celebrated by Bengali community which makes a major section of Allahabadi society. Puja pandals of Darbhanga colony and Jagat Taran College are the best places to enjoy the marvelous works of craftsmen of the city.

Kumbh Fair

Hindu pilgrims cross the river Ganges during the 2001 Kumbh fair.

Kumbh is the best time to get the glimpse of Hindu rituals and culture. Organized once in every twelve years, Kumbh 2001 was the largest ever human gathering in history. Vedas contain the laurels on the divine period of Kumbh, which make it the biggest festival for Hinduism. Festivals of Makar Sankranti, Mauni Amavasya and Basant Panchami are the most auspicious days and 'Shahi Snaana' are held. The Kumbh area is a temporary settlement of tents made on the flood plains for Ganga and Yamuna which are vastly sprawled. It is better to book the camps/hotels in advance as the number of visitors are unbelievably high. Plan the visit around 6 months before the starting of the fair. Deadly stampedes during Kumbh are unfortunately commonplace.

Kumbh is the largest gathering of human beings on the planet when it occurs. In 2001, 80-90 million pilgrims came for the divine Kumbh. Every year, a smaller version of Kumbh called Magh Mela is organized which falls during the Hindu month of Magha (Usually January or February). Magh Mela is an auspicious time to get married and Allahabad will be bustling with marriage processions long into the night during this period.

Sangam

A dip in the holy Sangam of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati is a must for the spiritually inclined. Sangam is a Sanskrit word for confluence. It is a sacred holy site for Hindus. According to Vedic literature and myths it is called Triveni Sangam because three rivers meet up here namely the holy Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati which is believed to be flowing beneath the surface. At the time of churning of sea (Samudra Manthan) by Gods (Suras) and the Demons (Asuras) few drops of amrita (holy nectar that makes a mortal immortal) fell at four different parts of the subcontinent during a fight between Gods and Demons over it. That places are Hardwar, Nasik, Prayag and Ujjain and are considered holy and MahaKumbha Mela is organised once in 12 years. Millions of pilgrims, tourists, ascetics, sadhu/sant (holy men) visit Prayag at the time of month long Kumbha for taking holy dip at sangam and perform religious rituals and ceremonies. Also Magh Mela is organised annually on January-February(Magh month of Hindu Calendar) and millions visit to take holy dip at Sangam.

Attractions

All Saints Cathedral
Khusro Bagh

Museums

Visit to a historical city like Allahabad can not be complete without understanding and feeling its vibrant and varied history. The city is rich in museums and offers attractive spots for people of every discourse.

Allahabad Museum
Anand Bhawan

Temples

Do

Learn

Buy

Eat

Allahabad is paradise for those who are made for taste. If you are in Allahabad, then do not forget to enjoy the Mughalai cuisine of North India.Out of innumerable spots for having delicacies of the North Indian cuisine, a mere glimpse is here. Loknath area of the city may be your favorite spot if you are foody and comfortable with hustle and bustle of 'ilahabadi raunak'.

Budget

Cheap eats can be found at Chowk bazaar, the historic city center. So take a bus and get off at Jawahar Square Chowk, then amble down the Loknath Line and tackle the stalls on both sides. This street is the heart of the historic city center as well as its stomach. The smells are unbelievable. Great eateries are reported below:

In every area of the city there are options and variety for cheap foods. Below some tips:

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

Pubs are very few. Glassy Junction at hotel Milan Palace, Civil Lines, is a good one to hang around on weekends. Another place that comes closest to being a pub is on the top floor of the Kanha Shyam hotel in Civil Lines. Some restaurants, like Hasty Tasty restaurant, Hotel Regency, and the Tourist Bungalow, all situated in Civil Lines, offer chilled beer and liquor. However, most other restaurants do not have liquor on their menu. Drinking in public is frowned upon, drinking in family restaurants is not allowed at all.

Sleep

Allahabad is the host of the largest gathering in the world and rich in hotels in almost every part of the city.Details of a few of them are here.

Budget

Various dharmshalas are available at negligible charges in old city. Daraganj and Kydganj have plenty of Dharmshalas which are freely available.

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

Cope

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 27, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.