Author Deepu Paul explores the city of Allahabad in India and its unique glamor.
I must have been in love with long train journeys back then. It was another such a long journey – three days and two nights – and I saw myself at the busy Allahabad (today’s Prayagraj) railway station. I can only wonder how the city looks like now, but I will not be surprised if the last two decades did hardly anything to this vintage city other than the change in name.
Well, back in 2001, when I first visited the city was bustling to the brim. Little did I know back then I was witnessing and being part of one of the rarest occasions – The Maha Kumbha Mela which occurs only once in 144 years.
As mentioned, it is an antique city devoid of the glamor and glitter many other major towns of our country boast of. Yet, the best things to do and see in Allahabad can be uniquely memorable.
A glimpse back to history
Prayagraj, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, is a city that is enveloped in historical and mythological past and leaves its evident traces even today for the visitors to embrace. In 1575, the Mughal emperor Akbar built a fort on the banks of the holy Sangam – Ganga, Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati – and named the town as Illahabad or Allahabad.
From the Mughal rule through British colonial rule, the city continued to hold a prominent place in History. In the contemporary era, the city is more famous for producing big names such as Jawaharlal Nehru, VP Singh, Amitabh Bachchan and many more eminent personalities from different fields.
Despite the extensive history and busy political, cultural and literary activities, the best things to do and see in Allahabad are less modern.
Triveni Sangam & Kumbh Mela
The city hosts the Ardh Kumbha Mela after every six years and Purna Kumbh Mela after every 12 years at Triveni Sangam of three holy rivers, the Ganges, Yamuna, and invisible Saraswati. But the most important event is the Maha Kumbh Mela that periodically falls every 144 years. It attracts tens of millions of devotees to the city who perform religious rituals and take a ritual bath at the Sangam.
The recent Maha Kumbh Mela was held in 2001 at Prayag, the holiest of the four spots where the sacred drops of Amrit are said to have fallen. This was the first Maha Kumbh of the 21st century and of this millennium as well. Unknowingly I became a part of it too. It is one of the most religious things to do and see in Allahabad.
It was constructed by Motilal Nehru in the 1930s to serve as the residence of the Nehru family which now is a museum focusing on the Nehru Family. The same site also houses moon model Jawahar Planetarium, which has been striving to inculcate scientific information among masses through its sky shows on astronomy and science.
The Allahabad Museum is established in 1931 and is known for its rich collection and unique objects of art. It is funded by the Ministry of Culture. The collections include ancient sculpture from Mathura, Bhumra, Jamsot, Terracottas of Kausambi, Rajasthani Miniatures, Paintings of Nicholas Roerich and those of the Bengal School of Art, manuscripts of well-known Hindi authors and the ‘Gandhi Smrithi Vahan’. If you are an ardent lover of paintings and sculpture then visiting the museum is one of the best things to do and see in Allahabad.
Allahabad Fort & Ashoka Pillar
Built by the Mughal emperor Akbar in Allahabad in 1583, the fort stands on the banks of the Yamuna and is recognized by the Archaeological Survey of India as a monument of national importance. Placed outside the Allahabad Fort, Ashoka Pillar was constructed by Emperor Akbar. If you want to fulfill your desires to know about the history of the place then visiting the fort and the pillar is one of the best things to do and see in Allahabad.
Alfred park & Company Gardens
Even in the sultry summers of Allahabad, these are some of the spots that become the green and cool havens for common people.
Chandrashekhar Azad Park or Alfred Park is a public garden in Allahabad. Spread over an area of 133 acres, the park was constructed to mark the visit of Prince Alfred in the city. The park is more popular for the shootout between British police and Chandra Shekhar Azad.
Located behind the Allahabad Museum on Panna Lal Road, Company Garden is a beautiful place full of shady trees and blooming shrubs.
A list of things to do and see in Allahabad can be extended to Bade Hanuman Temple, Khusro Bagh, All Saints Cathedral, New Yamuna Bridge, Minto Park and many more.
Many pockets of the streets of Prayagraj are famous for tender kebabs, mouthwatering biryanis, and special lassi. Besides these, there is no dearth for guavas and mangoes in its seasons, winter and summer respectively.
When and how to reach
To enjoy the things to do and see, better not to visit Prayagraj in summer. Schedule your trip between October to March.
The city has a domestic airport and the nearest international airport is 170 KMs away at Varanasi. Prayagraj railways station is the main hub in north India and almost all the major cities of the country are connected to Prayagraj. The city is also connected to other cities by road.
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