Hindu Pilgrimage
Allahabad is a city that is defined by the sangam (sacred confluence of two or more rivers), the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna. According to legend, a third river, the mythical Saraswati is also believed to join the two rivers here, giving the confluence or sangam a holy dimension, replete with soul-cleansing powers. Brahma is said to have called this spot Tirth Raj, or 'King of Pilgrimage sites'. The holy confluence draws pilgrims at all times, but especially at the time of the Maha Kumbh Mela, a jaw-dropping spectacle when millions of devotees bathe ritually in the waters to break the eternal cycle of reincarnation. On a more earthly level, Allahabad was a British colonial settlement and also the family home of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, whose daughter went on to found India's powerful Nehru- Gandhi political dynasty.

Allahabad History

Allahabad was known in ancient times as Prayag, and Lord Brahma is said to have performed a sacrifice there. The Chinese pilgrim Xuan Zhang (Hieun Tsang) described visiting the city in 634 AD. Allahabad acquired its present name from the Mughals, who named it Allahabad, or Place of God. The Mughal Emperor Akbar built a fort here in 1583, which straddled the valley between the Ganga and the Yamuna, an area of strategic significance. The Emperor Shah Jahan murdered his brother Khusrau here in 1615, so that his accession to the throne would be secured.

Later the town was taken by the Marathas, sacked by the Pathans, and finally ceded to the British in 1801 by the Nawab of Avadh. After that, the town became a British military cantonment.

After the first war of Indian Independence first war of Indian Independence in 1857, the British moved the headquarters of the north-western province here from Agra. Allahabad also witnessed the formal transfer of power from the East India Company to the Crown in 1858, which was announced by the then Viceroy Lord Canning. The city also played an important role in the fight for national Independence. It witnessed the first meeting of the Indian National Congress in 1885. Allahabad is also where the non-violent freedom movement of Mahatma Gandhi was inaugurated.

However, the city's strongest connection with the Independence movement stems from the fact that it was the hometown of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister and his father Motilal Nehru, who also played a role in the freedom struggle. Nehru would go on to lay the foundations for the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, a family that would dominate India's political life after Independence.


Allahabad is situated in the state of Uttar Pradesh and is 125 km from Varanasi. It is situated at the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers. The city is divided by the railway line running through it. South of the tracks is the old Chowk area, while the British-built Civil Lines is situated to the north, with all its streets laid out in a grid.

The Yamuna river flows south of Allahabad until it reaches the confluence point at the south-eastern extremity of the city. The Ganga flows along its eastern edge. The Grand Trunk Road also goes through the city, through the heart of the Chowk. Triveni road leads from the Grand Trunk road to the sangam.

How to Reach

The nearest airport is Varanasi (125 km), which is connected with the cities of Agra, Bhubaneshwar, Mumbai, Delhi, Khajuraho and Lucknow.
Allahabad is an important rail terminus connected by rail with all the major cities in India, including Agra, Delhi, Gorakhpur, Gwalior, Kanpur and Lucknow.
Important road distances from Allahabad are:
Agra (483 km), Delhi (612 km), Lucknow (227 km), Lumbini (406 km), Khajuraho (294 km), Varanasi (125 km), Chitrakoot (128 km), Kolkata (799 km), Jhansi (375 Km), Thiruvananthapuram (2,413 km), Ahmedadad (1,207 km), Chennai (1,790 km), Kanpur (198 km), Nagpur (618 km), Udaipur (956 km), Etwah (331 km), Patna (368 km), Bhopal (680 km), Jaipur (673 km), Mumbai (1,444 km). There are also direct bus services from Allahabad to Chitrakoot, Ayodhya, Varanasi, Lucknow and Kanpur.

Sights to Visit


The confluence (or sangam of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna is what makes Allahabad such a sacred spot to Hindus. The mythical river of enlightenment, the Saraswati, is also believed to surface here. It is believed that the purifying power of a sacred river is strengthened at a confluence. This gives the sangam great soul-cleansing powers, and all Hindus hope to bathe here at least once in their lifetime, to wash away their sins.

Around 7 km from Civil Lines, overlooked by the eastern ramparts of the Allahabad fort, wide flood plains and muddy banks protrude towards the sacred sangam. At the point at which the brown Ganga 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 (offerings) for their deceased parents.

Boats to the sangam, used by pilgrims and tourists alike, can be rented at the ghat (steps leading to water) immediately east of the fort, for the recommended government rate of Rs 12 per head.

However, most pilgrims pay around Rs 36 and you can be charged as much as Rs 150. Official prices for a whole boat are between Rs 100 and Rs 120 but can soar to more than Rs 250 during peak seasons.

Allahabad fort

The massive fort built by Emperor Akbar in 1583 AD stands on the banks of the Yamuna near the confluence site. The fort has massive walls and three gateways flanked by high towers. At present it is used by the army, so only a limited area is open to visitors. The outer wall is intact and rises above the water's edge. The fort is impressive when viewed from the river, so you can catch a boat from the sangam to view it or walk along the riverbank footpath which skirts the fort's southern wall.

Visitors need permission to visit the fort, which can be obtained from the Commandant, Ordinance Depot, Fort, Allahabad. Tel: 6064738, Extension 213.

Once inside the fort, see the Ashoka Pillar that dates back to 232 BC. A small door in the fort's eastern wall leads to the underground Patalpuri temple which houses the Undying Banyan tree, also known as the Akshai Veta. This tree is mentioned by Xuan Zhang (Hieun Tsang), who describes pilgrims sacrificing their lives by leaping to their deaths from it in order to achieve salvation. There is not much of it left now, though.

The Hanuman temple

Close to the Allahabad fort, this temple is distinguished by the reclining image of Hanuman. It is said that the each year during the floods, the water of the Ganga rises to touch the feet of the idol before receding.

Saraswati ghat

The Saraswati ghat is close to the sangam and also a popular spot with devotees. Women perform aarti or evening worship here by floating diyas, or small oil lamps downstream.

Khusrau Bagh

Close to Allahabad junction station, these walled gardens mark the spot where Prince Khusrau, the son of Emperor Jehangir, was murdered by his brother Emperor Shah Jahan. The tomb of Khusrau is a sandstone mausoleum, which was completed in 1622. The tomb to the west is thought to be his sister's. Still further west is the two-storied tomb of Khusrau's Rajput mother, who is said to have poisoned herself in despair over her son's determined opposition to his father.

Anand Bhavan

Anand Bhavan is the family home of the Nehru family and the boyhood home of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Independent India's first prime minister. This ornate Victorian structure has been converted into a museum, and visitors can walk around the verandas, peering through glass panels into the various rooms, including the one in which Mahatma Gandhi used to stay.

Next to Anand Bhavan stands Swaraj Bhavan, which was where Motilal Nehru lived until 1930 and where his grand-daughter Indira Gandhi was born. Within the grounds is also a planetarium and a building that hosts a pictorial display of Jawaharlal Nehru's life.

Bhardwaj Ashram

Not far from Anand Bhavan, the ashram houses a collection of small temples. It is named after the philosopher, scientist and ascetic Bharadwaj who is mentioned in the Ramayana. He is said to have had a hermitage here, which was visited by Rama. Legend relates that the ashram once had 10,000 students. Unusually, women here act as priests and care-takers.

Allahabad Museum

This has galleries devoted to local archaeological finds, including terracotta figurines and other artefacts from Kausambi. It also has natural history exhibits, an art gallery featuring paintings by Nicholas Roerich and Jamini Roy among others, an exhibit on the freedom struggle and a room of artefacts donated by the Nehru family. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.

All Saints Cathedral

This is the most visible presence of the British empire in Allahabad. This Gothic Revival church structure has retained much of its stained-glass and has an altar of inlaid marble. It was designed by Sir William Emerson, who was also the architect of the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata. Its brass memorial plaques commemorate past congregations and the manner of their death

A short distance to the north-west is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Joseph's, built in 1879.

Muir college

A fine example of Indo-Saracenic architecture, the college is dominated by the 200-foot-high minaret tower. It forms a quadrangle comprising the convocation hall, lecture rooms, library and professor's rooms linked by arcaded verandas.

Minto Park

It was here that Lord Canning proclaimed in 1858 that India would be ruled by the Queen of England, bringing the rule of the East India Company to an end.

Allahabad University

This nineteenth-century sandstone structure is situated north of the Allahabad museum. It has a small museum containing artefacts from the excavations at Kaushambhi.
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