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
- The politeness of "Aap" and "Hum" (the singular "you" and "I" is rarely used).
- The subtle sense of humour of the person on the street
- The fun of walking and travelling on rickshaws
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 (2343 hrs IST) 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 2130 hrs IST and arrives in Allahabad at 0630 hrs IST next day. The train runs every day. Newly launched is Duranto Express leaving Allahabad for New Delhi on Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays at 22.40 IST hours and reaches New Delhi at 06.05 IST hours 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 IST hours and reaches Allahabad at 06.20 IST hours the next day with number 2276. Fares are marginally higher than other superfast and express trains.
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. It is far easier to fly into Varanasi (120 km away) or Lucknow (200 km away) as both of these airports are much better serviced.
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, Daraganj (near the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna), Prayag (near the University), Rambagh (city centre), and Allahabad Junction (the main station). In addition, another temporary railway station known as Prayag Ghat (to be distinguished from Prayag) is used during important religious festivals for the better management and control of extra pilgrim traffic on those occasions.
Allahabad is on NH2 and NH27 and is, therefore, well connected by road. Several buses ply to and from nearby cities and towns.
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.
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. Next Kumbh will fall in January 2013. Estimates predict 100 million people or more will make the pilgrimage in 2013.
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.
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.
- Allahabad Fort. The Allahabad Fort, built from the year 1583 onwards by Akbar, stands at the junction of the two great rivers. It was the largest of Akbar`s forts, and although its original form has been much impaired by early restoration work, the splendid Zenana Palace still survives. It is a fine pavilion, with a central square hall carried on sixty-four columns bordered by a deep veranda of double columns and there are clusters of four in each corner.
Kumbha Mela Under the wall of the palace, there is the so-called `Undying Banyan Tree` or Akshai Vata. In front of the entrance to the-Fort is the `Ashoka Pillar`, 35 feet high, it is made up of polished stone. Edicts of Ashoka are inscribed on it. The fort was later garrisoned under Company Raj, this imposing structure stands on the bank of Yamuna at sangam nose. Due to serious military concerns, only a limited area of the fort can been seen.
- Khusro bagh. 8 am - 8 pm. Khusro Bagh is entered through an old doorway that is 60 feet high. Khusrau was the elder brother of the Emperor Shah Jahan. He died in the year 1615 and the tomb was completed seven years later. The actual burial chamber is underground. It was enriched with plasterwork and was painted with birds and flowers and Persian inscriptions. West of the tomb is another tomb, which is believed to be the tomb of Khusrau`s sister. The place is also known for famous 'Allahabadi Guavas'.
- Anand Bhawan. 8 am - 4:30pm. Learn about the intricacies of Indian struggle for freedom during early 20th century. Among many things, you will find the personal correspondence and family photographs of the Nehrus. Besides Anand Bhawan is Swaraj Bhawan, ancestral place of the Nehru clan. It offers a best way to know about Nehru family via its video shows which are scheduled hourly. Anand Bhawan and Swaraj Bhawan are the places which have served as the parliament in real sense during British era. Many important decisions and happenings have been witnessed by these monuments. (Closed on Mondays)
- Moti Mahal and Bari Kothi, Daryaganj.
- Jawahar Planetarium. 11 am-4:30 pm. A place for those who are interested in astronomy. Shows are at every hour and charges are nominal. Children under age of 7 are not allowed.(Closed on Mondays) Rs 20.
- Thornhill Mayne Memorial. The marvelous monuments is perched in Company Garden. The monument has served as the house of legislative assembly in British era when Allahabad was the capital of United Provinces. Presently it has been converted to a library which is popularly known as Public Library. The monument is beautifully carved from white sandstones and is drenched in Gothic serenity.
- Allahabad Museum. 9am-4pm. Spot for the lovers of ancient history. The museum is rich in remains of mighty city of Kaushambi and Srungverpur. Allahabad being a historical city, the museum offers a convenient way to explore the history of the city and vicinity.(Monday closed)
- All Saints Cathedral. All Saints` Cathedral, designed by William Emerson (later President of the Royal Institute of British Architects) in complete Gothic style, was commenced in the year 1877. Standing in a grass compound at a major junction, it is in white stone with red sandstone dressings. The pavement to the choir and sanctuary is constructed pure Jaipur marble.
Also known as Patthar Girja among local people, it is one of the oldest church of India.
- University of Allahabad Campus. Being 4th oldest (formal) university of India, it is a place to see some of the most beautiful monuments drenched in Gothic style. Zoological museum in Department of Zoology homes a unique collection of skeletons of mammoth and elephants.
- Company Bagh (Alfred Park or Chandrashekhar Azad Park). It is the place to experience the British era of Indian history. Encircled in this park are Allahabad Museum, Victoria memorial and public library. History is scattered at every step in the park. It was in this park where Chandrashekhar Azad, (freedom fighter) shot himself after only one bullet was left in his revolver so that the British can't catch him alive.
- Minto Park (Between Fort and Yamuna Bridge). A historical spot where 'Company Raj' came to its end and India was formally transferred to the British crown. The park also homes a replica of famous Ashok Pillar upon which the national emblem of Indian Republic is perched.
- Yamuna bridge. A stroll or a cycle ride on the bridge at sunrise or sunset is extremely refreshing.
- Allahabad High Court. It is the seat of Justice in Uttar Pradesh, and is the oldest high court in the country with largest strength of judges.
- Nagvasuki Temple (In Daraganj).
- Churches and Convents of the city. Allahabad boasts of its magnificent churches that were buit during the epoch of British Raj. Some of them are All Saints Cathedral, St Josephs' Convent, Evangelical Church and Bethany Convent. Diocese of Allahabad was the first in North India and has played a major role in nurturing the missionaries in the region
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, Chandrashekhar Azad Park, Kamala Nehru Road, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 10.30 A.M. to 4.30 P.M.; closed : Mondays and gazetted holidays and Sunday falling after second Saturday. Stone sculptures, terracottas, miniature paintings, modern Indian paintings, seals, sealing, coins, presents from Pt. Jawaharalal Nehru, miniature objects, handicrafts, firms, manuscripts, arms and armour inscription, thangkas. Citivithika half yearly. Library. Guide service; film shows on request; Lectures. Photography allowed on payment of Rs.25.00 per Snap. Multi-Purpose Museum. Rs. 5.00 adult, Rs.2.00 below 12 years, Rs. 100.00 foreigners..
- Anand Bhawan Museum, Moti Lal Neharu Marg, e-mail: email@example.com. 9.30A.M. to 5.30 P.M. (Lunch Break) 1.00 P.M. and 1.30P.M.; closed: Mondays and gazetted holidays. Personal Belongings of Jawaharlal Nehru, of his parents and other members of his family. Picture gallery of national movement, painting textile books parquetry. Library. Rs. 5.00-(for first floor only).
- Archaeological Museum, Museum Department of ancient History, culture and Archaeology, university of Allahabad -211002.. Summer :7.00 A.M. to 12.00 noon; winter ; 10.00A.M. To 4.00 P.M.; closed: Sunday and other university holidays.
- Anatomy Museum, M.L.N. medical College. July 1 to April 30: 9.00A.M. To 4.00 P.M. May 1 to June 30: 8.00 A.M. to 12.00 noon: closed university holiday. Dissected parts of the human body, models of human organs embryology models to study various branches of anatomy
- Hindi Sangrahalaya, Hindi Sahitya Saammelan. Summer: 6.30A.M. to 11.30A.M. Winter: 11.00A.M. To 5.00P.M.; closed; Sunday and important holidays. Printed Book, periodicals, manuscripts, coins letters, photographs, memoir trophies and personal belongings of literary personalities
- Agharkar museum, Botany Department, university of Allahabad, Allahabad-211002.. Summer : 7.00 A.M. to 12.00 A.M.; winter: 10.00 A.M. to 4.00P.M.; closed : Sunday and university holidays;.
- Ganganath Jha kendriya Sanskrit vidyapeetha, C.S. Azad Park, ☎ Tel . 2460957,(R)2504081, 2506892. 9.30A.M. to 6.00 P.M.; closed: Saturday, Sunday & gazetted holidays;. Mainly Sanskrit manuscripts about 50,000; along with in Telugu, Bangali, Maithili and oriya,
- Ankaleshwara Temple (Stanley Rd, Mehndauri Colony).
- Shankar Vimana Mandapam. Build in South Indian style, the temple offers a great view of Sangam and surrounding areas.
- Bharadwaj Ashram. The hermitage of Saint Bharadwaj, as per Ramayana. There is a temple of Lord Prayagraj, the God of the Prayag city.
- Dashaswamedh Temple (On the bank of Ganges in Daraganj). According to Hindu mythology this was the spot where Lord Bramha performed Parikshit Yajna and city got its name Prayag
- Bare Hanumanji Temple (Near the Sangam). Here lies a magnificent statue of Lord Hanuman which is believed to be of Ramayana era.
- Jhusi-Tallest Hanuman Mandir. The temple is an unusally tall Hanuman diety along with 108 Shivalingas.
- Mankameshwar Mandir. The temple is at the bank of Yamuna river near Triveni Sangam. You can't miss it as it has flashy neon animations at its entrance.
- Someshwar Mahadev Temple.
- Walk in the Magh/Kumbh mela area. The days which are best to visit Allahabad falls in the Hindu month of 'Magha'. A stroll in the make shift streets of Mela area is blissfully energizing. Be sure to keep a close watch on your purse/day-pack, not flash any cash or wear expensive jewelry to avoid being a target for theft.
- Take a dip at Sangam. Spiritual and refreshing. Sitting along the river banks and seeing the flowing water is also worth to be done. However sitting alone in aloof areas is risky for ladies and foreigners. Nagvasuki Ghat and Saraswati Ghat are suitable places for enjoying the serenity of river. Go at sunrise or after sunset to avoid crowds during Magh Mela.
- Take a boat ride down the Yamuna. Always try to have a skilled bargain with the sailors and it is better not to wear jewelries during boat rides.
- Hear the azaan. Wake up at dawn and hear the azaan as the temple bells ring. Such experiences can be easily gained in the old city.
- Water Sports in Yamuna. Various water sports can be enjoyed in the waters of Yamuna. Skiing, para-sailing, kayaking, canoeing, wind surfing enterprise, yachting boat, optimist sailing, water snookering, shallow water diving with single cylinder are some of them. Allahabad Boat Club is the organizer and provider for required logistics.
- Kriya Yoga, Near Shastri Bridge, Jhunsi. Allahabad is the best place to learn Kriya Yoga. Details can be obtained from Kriya Yoga Research Institute.
- Astrology. Being a seat of leaning, Prayag is a hub of famous astrologists and Sanskrit Vidyapeeths(Institutes). Get your kundli evaluated and your problem solved by Indian astrology. Approach a 'jyotishi' if you have faith in soft sciences.
- Guavas are best bought in winter. The red-spotted guavas available in plenty (and at unbelievably cheap prices) are a major attraction.
- Mangoes in summer
- Namkeens at LokNath, Chowk
- Rasgulle. Actually a type of gulaabjamun, 'rasgulle' (in vernacular language)are specialty of Allahabadi cuisine. Some remarkable shops in city are near Madwapur Petrol Pump, in front of Kamla Nehru Hospital and Netram in Katra. Try to get the taste of rasgulla's at Dadoli Canal(Pratapgarh Rd) and at Rewa Road.
- Water from the Ganga. Small brass pots of water from the Ganga sealed with wax are to be found just about everywhere near Sangam. These make a lovely souvenir.
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. In every area of the city there are options and variety. Loknath area of the city may be your favorite spot if you are foody and comfortable with hustle and bustle of 'ilahabadi raunak'.
Budget options include:
- Amble down the Lok Nath galli (at Chowk) and eat something from each of the shops on the left, then turn, amble back, and tackle the shops on the other side
- Chat (an Indian snack) at Nirala Mishtan Bhandar at Lok Nath in Chowk
- Samosa, Dal Moth, Khatte Channa at Hari Ram and Sons at Lok Nath in Chowk
- Rabri, Lassi, Burfi, Kulfi at Raja Ram Lassi Wala at Lok Nath in Chowk
- Butter Masala Dosa at the Motilal Nehru Medical College gate
- Baati Chokha Near High Court
- Chaat at Bahrana Triangle
- Kachauri (with normal thali) at Netram, Katra
- 'Dhabbas' near railway station are options for having a heavy Mughalai nosh-up
- Enjoy 'Paan' - Indian mouth freshener, kiosks at every step in the city
- McDonald's, M G Marg.
- Dominos, ICICI Crossing, SP Marg.
- Sagar Ratna, Balson Crossing.
- Cafe Coffee Day (CCD), Elgin Road.
- Connoisseur Restaurant, Civil Lines, M. G. Road.
- Kanha Shyam, Strachey Road. 3 star restaurant
- El Chico, Civil Lines, M. G. Road. The ambience is relaxed and classy.
- Grand Continental, SP Marg.
- Urban Masala, Sardar Patel Marg.
- Cafe 1866, Tashkent Marg.
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.
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.
- Hotel Kanha Shyam, Strachey Road. Various dharmshalas are available at negligible charges in old city. Daraganj and Kydganj have plenty of Dharmshalas which are freely available.
- Royal Hotel, Nawab Yusuf Rd (near Allahabad junction Train Junction). Check-out: 12 noon. Used to be a royal stable but was converted into a hotel. Basic rooms reasonably spacious with bathrooms, hot water, it's a bucket and scoop job. All in all, a lovely old building. 150-350 rp.
- Hotel Kohinoor, 10 Noorulla Road, ☎ .
- Hotel Samrat, Mahatma Gandhi Marg, ☎ +91-532-2561200 to 2561208, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Valentines Hotel, Clive Road.
- Hotel Yatrik, 33 Sardar Patel Marg.
- Hotel Ajay International, Elgin Road.
- Hotel Grand Continental, Strachey Road.
- Hotel Milan, Strachey Road.
- Hotal Samrat, Civil Lines.
- Power outages are frequent so be prepared and carry a flashlight. Alleys are hard to navigate during the day, and even harder at night, so always be prepared. Heck, sometimes you might run into a cow in an alley.
- Women should dress conservatively and be very careful as sexual assaults, such as random gropings, can be common. Don't travel alone, especially in less populated areas.
- Knowing some basic Hindi and/or Urdu will help, although you can manage with English.
- Be prepared to haggle with cyclerickshaw pullers (the best means of transport), for a short trip the price should be about 50 rupees, autorickshaws slightly less.
- Rishabdev Tapasthali
- Chandra Prabha Wildlife Sanctuary
- Nandan Kanan amusement park
- FUN GAON amusement park
- Tones river
- Vindham Falls - Mirzapur
- Mangarh -Pratapgarh
- Agra there is an overnight sleeper from Allahabad but it leaves at 11:15 at night and takes approx. 7 hours.