The city that homes all things sacred for Hinduism is also the hometown of the Bollywood star Amitabh Bachan. The sacred Triveni Sangam meaning the union of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati is of great importance as it is believed to wash you of your sins.
Kumbh Mela is the largest religious gathering in the world performed by the Hindus and is the greatest of the Indian pilgrimages. It is the largest bathing event in the world which is celebrated four times every twelve years, once at each of the four holy destinations – Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. Each twelve-year cycle includes the Maha (great) Kumbh Mela at
Prayag and and others are termed as Ardh (Half) Kumbh Mela, attended by millions of people.
The fair is also renowned for the active participation of the Sadhus and Mahants coming out from remote hideaways of forests, mountains and caves.
The Legend behind the Holy Gathering
The word ‘Kumbh’ means ‘Pot’ and Mela means ‘Fair’ and is associated with some interesting tales of Hindu mythology. As the legend goes, once Gods and Demons agreed to work together in order to obtain Amrita (the nectar of immortality) from the churning of the milk-ocean and share it equally. After much hard work when the Kumbha full of Amrita appeared, the Demons ran away with it, Gods following them later.
For twelve days and nights (equivalent to twelve human years) the God and Demons fought in the sky. It is said that during the battle, drops of Amrita fell on the ground at four places : Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik, where Kumbh Mela is celebrated after the gap of three years. According to Hindu astrologers, the ‘Kumbh Fair’ takes place when the planet Jupiter enters Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries.
Maha Kumbh Mela is celebrated once in 12 years in Prayag near Allahabad according to the Hindu mythology and is hugely participated by the devotees and tourists to mark the auspicious occasion. Government has taken up a number of measures to make the gathering hospitable and enjoyable.
Sangam is the sacred place where three holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati meet. It is also well known as Triveni Sangam and is considered to be the most holy bathing destination is India. The famous Kumbha Mela is celebrated at this very place and it is widely believed that bathing here at this auspicious time helps you to attain Moksha (salvation). The Ganges here is muddy-coloured and shallow while Yamuna is blue and deep. The invisible river Saraswati is considered to flow underground and can’t be seen.
Built by Akbar in 1583, this huge fort commands over the environment with its grandeur of Mughal architecture. Nestles on the bank of Yamuna river near the Sangam, it houses a 35 ft high Ashoka Pillar inside the fort. Since the fort is in the control of army, a written permission is required to enter in it.
A small ancient temple dedicated to Hanumana is one of the prime attractions of Allahabad. Situated a few feet below the ground, the temple houses Hanumana in a reclining posture. It is said that every year the Ganges floods until it touches the holy foot of sleeping Hanumana and then only starts receding. Located by the Sangam side, this temple is open to non-Hindus also.
The ancestral house of Nehru family is a must see in Allahabad. This beautiful house stores the heritage of Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. You can also visit the room where Mahatma Gandhi used to stay and work. It is open daily 9:30 am to 5 pm, except on Mondays
This ancient museum stores the true heritage of Allahabad in its walls. The ivory Krishna Arjuna on the carved sandalwood chariot is the main attraction of the museum. It is open from 10:3 am to 4:30 PM and remains closed on Mondays.
How to Get There
Allahabad has a domestic airport which offers connection to some of the selected cities of the countries. But the nearby airports at Varanasi (140 km) and Lucknow (410 km) offer regular flight service to almost all the major cities of India including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
Allahabad is one of the major railway hubs in India with four railway stations – Prayag station, City station, Daraganj station and Allahabad junction. Some major Buy Trains connecting Allahabad with the rest of the country are Prayag Raj Express (Allahabad – New Delhi), Brahmaputra Mail (Guwahati – Allahabad – New Delhi), Bombay Mail (Howrah – Allahabad – Mumbai) and Toofan Express (Ganganagar – Allahabad – Howrah).
Allahabad is on the national highways 2 and 27. Regular bus services connect Allahabad with rest of the country. The good roads make the journey to Allahabad relaxing and enjoying. Some important road distances are: Varanasi – 125 km, Ayodhya – 167 km, Lucknow – 204 km, Khajuraho – 294 km and Delhi – 643 km.