Saturday, January 17, 2015

Prayag (Allahabad)

Prayag (Allahabad) is one of the largest city in Uttar Pradesh and situated at the confluence of the three holiest rivers-The Ganga, The Yamuna and the invisible  Saraswati. This meeting point is called Triveni Sangam and is very sacred for Hindus.The earlier settlements of  Aryans were established in this city, then known as 'Prayag' Prayagasya Praveshshu Papam Nashwati Tatkshanam (all sins are cleaned when you enter Prayag).Emperor Akbar in 1575 renamed this city as Illahabas, which has now become modern Allahabad. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma, the creator God of Trinity, chose a land on earth (i.e Prayag) to perform 'Prakrista Yagn' at the beginning of the creation and he also referred to it as Tirth raj  or the King of all Pilgrimages. Prayag is the birthplace of Som, Varuna and Prajapati. Sage Bharadwaj (greatest philosopher of ancient world) lived here in circa 5000 B.C and taught more than 10000 disciples. Prayag has been the seat of learning , wisdom and writing. It is the most vibrant politically  conscious  and spiritually awakened city of India.

How to reach here:

By Air: Allahabad Airport (IXD) also called Bamrauli Field is essentially a military base and has only one commercial flight from Delhi and back per day. The easiest would be to fly to Varanasi Airport (120 Kms) or Lucknow Airport (200 Kms).
By Rail: It has four railway stations- Allahabad Junction (main station), Rambagh (city center), Prayag (near the University) and Daraganj (near the Triveni sangam).It is well connected to the major cities in India.

Best time to visit: November to March

Languages spoken: Awadhi, Khariboli, Hindi and English

Must Eat: Motichoor Laddoos, Mughlai cuisine

Famous Restaurants: Rajdhani, Hot Stuff, El Chico, Kanha Shyam and Urban Masala

Places you must visit:

Sangam (Triveni Sangam) is the confluence of three holy rivers- Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati.According to the Vedic literature, at the time of churning the sea (Samudra manthan) by Gods (Suras ) and Demons(Asuras), few drops of nectar (Amrit-that makes a mortal immortal) fell at four different parts of the subcontinent during a fight between Gods and Demons over it.Those places are Haridwar, Nashik, Prayag and Ujjain and are considered holy and Maha Kumbha Mela is organised once in 12 years.Billions of pilgrims, tourists, ascetics, holy men visit Prayag at the time of month long Kumbh mela for taking holy dip at theSangam and perform religious rituals and ceremonies. Also Magh mela is organised every year in January-February and millions visit to take holy dip at Sangam.

Allahabad Fort was built by Emperor Akbar in 1583. It is the largest fort built by Akbar.The fort exhibits fine depictions of art, design, architecture and craftsmanship.At present the fort is used by the military and only a limited area is open for the public. Inside the fort there is the Zenana (Palace of Mariam-uz- Zamani), 3rd century B.C. Ashoka pillar, Saraswati Koop (source of Saraswati river) and the Patalpuri temple and the much revered Akshayvat (immortal tree)
Allahabad Fort 5 Things to Do While in Allahabad (Prayag)

Patalpuri Temple is located inside the Allahabad fort  and is an underground temple, believed to have been visited by Lord Rama.The famous Akshayvat or immortal tree is the part of the temple.Legends say that if anyone jumps from this sacred fig tree, will attain immortality.

Hanuman Mandir is situated near the sangam. This temple is unique in North India, for its supine image of Hanuman. A huge idol of Hanuman which is 20 feet long and 8 feet wide can be seen in a reclining position, few feet below the ground. When the river Ganga is in spate, the temple gets submerged. According to mythology, the water level rises because the Ganga wants to touch the feet of Lord Hanuman.

Shankar Viman Mandapam is 130 ft high, four storied structure which houses the idols of Kumari Bhatt, Jagatguru Shankaracharya, Kamakshi devi (with 51 shakti peeth's around), Tirupati Balaji (with 108 idols of Lord Vishna) and Yogashatra Sahasrayoga linga (108 idols of Lord Shiva).

Mankameshwar Temple lies in the bank of river Yamuna near Saraswati Ghat. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Swaraj Bhavan (formerly Anand Bhavan) is a large mansion established by prominent Indian political leader Motilal Nehru in the 19th century. It served as an ancestral home of the Nehru family (Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi were born here). The premise stands as a mute testimony to the Indian freedom struggle. Today the main building has been converted into a museum displaying the memorabilia of Nehru and Gandhi family.Jawahar Planetarium is also located besides the Anand Bhawan.

Allahabad Museum was inaugurated in 1947. The museum has 18 different galleries dedicated and devoted to archaeological findings, natural history exhibits, art gallery and terracotta exhibits. It also displays the documents and personal effects of Jawaharlal Nehru  and Indian freedom movement.Antiques from various and well known schools of sculptures are on display. The coin collections are brilliant and includes gold coins from Kushana and Gupta period.

Chandrashekhar Azad Park was known as Company Bagh or Alfred park has some fine colonial buildings including the Public Library, G.N. Jha research Institute and the statue of Chandrashekhar Azad, the greatest freedom fighter who laid down his life while fighting the British force.

Khusro Bagh  is a walled historic garden created by Mughal King Jahangir, in memory of his beloved son Khusro who was murdered by his brother Shah Jahan. A sandstone mausoleum of Khusro and his mother Shah Begum are located here.
Image:KhusrauBagh 21379.jpg

Minto Park also known as Madan Mohan Malviya Park is situated near the Saraswati ghat. The foundation of this park was laid by Lord Minto in 1910. The main attraction of this park is the four lions statue mounting atop of white stone memorial.

Allahabad University is a premier central university whose origin lie in the Muir Central college, named after Lt. Governor of North-Western provinces, Sir William Muir in 1876, who suggested the idea of Central University in Allahabad. It has a sprawling campus, graced by fine buildings in Victorian and Islamic styles.

All Saints Cathedral (Patthar Girja) was built in 19th century and designed by Sir William Emerson, the eminent architect who designed the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata. The church is built in Gothic style (architecture and style which was popular in high and late medieval times). The exceptional stained glass murals, intricate work and design on the marble altar makes the place more attractive.the cathedral is dedicated to all those who have deep faith in god.

Thornbill Mayne Memorial also called as Public Library is located in the Chandrashekhar Azad Park. The monument holds historical significance owing to the fact that it served as House of Legislative assembly during the British era. Carved from white sandstone, the entire building is constructed in Gothic style.

Yamuna Bridge is a cable stayed four lane bridge on Yamuna river and it is the largest construction in India.

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