Allahabad built on a very ancient site of the Aryans formerly known as Prayag, is located at the junction of the holy rivers Ganga and the Yamuna. It has a position of importance in the Hindu religion and mythology since it is situated at the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, and Hindu belief says that the invisible Saraswati River also joins here. It is a city with a mixed culture of Hindu, Muslims, Jains and Christians.
Geography of Allahabad
It is located in the southern part of the state, at 25°28′ N. lat. and 81°52′ E, and stands at the confluence of the Ganga, and Yamuna rivers. To its west and south is the Bundelkhand region, and to its east is the Baghelkhand region. It is the last point of the Yamuna River and is the last frontier of the 'west' Indian culture. IST is measured by the local time of the observatory in Allahabad.
History of Allahabad
Allahabad finds references in ancient Hindu scriptures including the Vedas, Puranas and the epic Ramayana as Prayag, the confluence of the three holy rivers of Yamuna, Ganga and Saraswati. The latter is a subterranean river believed to emerge at the sangam or confluence to join with the other two rivers. Known as ‘tirtha raj’ or the king of all pilgrimages, Allahabad was believed to have been chosen by Lord Brahma for the sacred confluence. According to legend, this is the spot where the sage Bharadwaj had his ashram, where thousands of students lived and studied under him. Lord Rama, the hero of the epic Ramayana also visited the ashram.
On the eastern side, across the river Ganga and connected to the city by the Shastri Bridge is Jhusi, identified with the ancient city of Pratisthanpur, capital of the Chandra dynasty. About 58 kilometres northwest is the medieval site of Kara with its impressive wreckage of Jayachand's fort. Sringverpur, another ancient site discovered relatively recently, has become a major attraction for tourists and antiquarians alike.
Historical evidence of a very ancient settlement has been found at archaeological sites in Allahabad. At the Draupadi Ghat, the evidence of habitation and artefacts dating from 1100 till 800 BC was found. Remains from the Kushana era (1st century AD) have also been found around the site of the Bharadwaj Ashram. Little remains of this ancient epoch in the history of this town. The Muslims annexed Allahabad in 1194, but the foundations of the modern city were laid by Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1575. Named as Illahabas by Akbar, the city acquired its grand fort overlooking the sangam in 1583. The fort has an Ashokan pillar and some temples, and is largely a military barracks. On the southwestern extremity of Allahabad lies Khusrobagh that antedates the fort and has three mausoleums, including that of Jehangir's first wife – Shah Begum. It is in this fort that Khusrau, the son of Emperor Jahangir fought to gain control of the throne and was first imprisoned and then killed in 1615 by his brother Shah Jahan.
In 1801, the British annexed the city and its fort, establishing colonial rule for the next 150 years. After the Mutiny of 1857, the British shifted the headquarters of the Northwestern provinces to Allahabad. Lord Canning announced the transfer of power to the crown in 1858 in this city. In the subsequent years Allahabad witnessed some important events in the freedom struggle. Home to Pandit Motilal Nehru, one of the most important leaders of the movement, Allahabad hosted the first Indian National Congress in 1885. Mahatma Gandhi’s call for a mass movement against imperialist rule was launched as the Quit India Movement from Allahabad in 1920. Allahabad also has the distinction of being the home of several Prime Ministers in India's post-independence history.
Tourist Attractions of Allahabad
The sacred 'Sangam' is the confluence of three of the holiest rivers in Hindu mythology Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical underground river of enlightenment, Saraswati. At the confluence, the muddy waters of the Ganges and the clear green water of the Yamuna can be distinctly seen to merge into one. Bathing at the Sangam is believed to be auspicious through out the year especially for 15 days in the month of Magh (mid-January to Mid-February) during 'Magh Mela' and longer during Maha Kumbh Mela held every 12 years.
The massive majestic fort built by Emperor Akbar in 1583 A.D fort stands on the banks of the Yamuna near the confluence. The largest of Akbar's forts, it was matchless in its design and construction. Now used by the army, prior permission is needed for a visit except for a limited area open to visitors. The fort has massive walls and three gateways flanked by high towers. Inside the fort there is the Zenana (harem) and the 3rd century BC Ashoka pillar moved to the fort from Kausambi, 'Saraswati Koop'; a well, said to be the source of the Saraswati river, Patalpuri, the underground temple and the much-revered 'Akshaya Vata' or immortal Banyan tree within the temple.The Ashoka pillar standing 10.6 meters high has several edicts and a Persian inscription of Emperor Jahangir encrypted on it, commemorating his accession to the throne.
Khusrau Bagh located near the railway station, contains the tomb of Prince Khusrau son of the Mughal emperor Jehangir, who was jailed and executed after an unsuccessful rebellion and a plot to assassinate his father. The typical Mughal Garden enclosure is entered through an 18m high archway.
Allahabad Museum located at Kamala Nehru Road inside Chandra Shekhar Azad Park, has 18 galleries containing a wide range of stone sculptures. The sculptures include 2nd BC pieces from Bharhut and Kausambi, 1st Century AD Kushana from Mathura, 4th-6th century Gupta and 11th century carvings from Khajuraho. The exhibit also has terracotta figurines from Kausambi, Rajasthani Miniatures, coins and paintings by Nicholas Roerich and artifacts donated by the Nehru family.
Anand Bhavan was the former ancestral home of the Nehru family. Donated to the Indian government in 1970 by Indira Gandhi, it was turned into a museum. The exhibits in the two storied building seen through glass panels include personal items of Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru; the first Prime Minister of Independent India, Indira Gandhi (Prime Minister1966-77, 1980-84) and her sons Sanjay Gandhi and Rajeev Gandhi (PrimeMinister1984-1989). One can see the room where Mahatma Gandhi used to stay during his visits, Jawarlal Nehru's room and study also.
Situated next to Anand Bhawan, Swaraj Bhavan was donated to the Nation by Moti Lal Nehru to be used as the headquarters of the Congress Committee. Late Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi was born here.
Muir Central College - University of Allahabad
Designed by William Emerson and opened in 1886, the college is a fine example of 'Indo-saracenic' architecture. It has a 200 feet tower made of pale-yellow sandstone with marble and mosaic floors. It was later established as the University of Allahabad, one of the most reputed Universities of India. The University has Kausambi Museum with various artifacts from Kausambi including pottery, Terracotta figurines, coins, beads and bangles.
Minto Park or Madan Mohan Malviya Park
Minto Park is located to the west of the fort near the Yamuna River. It was here that the East India Company officially handed over control of India to the British government in 1858. Lord Canning read out the declaration. There is a stone memorial with a four-lion symbol on top here.
Chandra Shekhar Azad Park
Earlier known as Alfred park, this extensive garden park has some fine colonial Buildings, including a public library. Later the park was renamed in honour of the freedom fighter Chandra Shekhar Azad who died in an encounter with the imperialists. Within the park is the Allahabad Museum.
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