A city of many dimensions is what befits a description of Allahabad. Allahabad is a name given by the Mughals to the ancient city of Prayag. 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 include the Muir College and the All Saints Cathedral.
Allahabad is one of four sites of the mass Hindu pilgrimage Kumbh Mela (the next Kumbh at Allahabad will be in January 2013), the others being Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik. It has a position of importance in Hindu scriptures for it is situated at Triveni Sangam, the confluence of the holy rivers Ganges and Yamuna, and the ancient Sarasvati River. Sangam around 7 km from the city centre, overlooked by the eastern ramparts of the fort, wide flood plains and muddy banks protrude towards the sacred confluence. At the point at which the brown Ganges meets the Greenish Yamuna, 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. Other important points of visit are massive Allahabad Fort, built by emperor Akbar in 1583 A.D and Anand Bhawan, The erstwhile ancestral home of the first Prime Minister of Independent India Jawahar Lal Nehru family. Today it has been turned into a fine museum.
Allahabad visit should be included in a circular itinerary including
Varanasi – Allahabad – Chitrakoot – Khajuraho – Agra – Jaipur – Delhi.