Allahabad (renamed as Prayagraj now) is also known as Prayag, or ‘place of offerings’ as it is situated at the confluence of three sacred rivers of India- Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. It is also called the ‘City of Prime Ministers’ as 7 out of 13 Indian PMs were from Prayagraj.
The Kurus established Kaushambi near Prayag as their capital. Since then, the city saw the rule of various dynasties like the Mauryas, Guptas, Kushas, The Slave Dynasty, the Mughals, Marathas, and finally the British in 1765. It was Akbar who built a splendid fort on the ‘sangam’ (union) banks in 1575 and renamed Prayag as Illahabad. In year 2019, Uttar Pradesh government renamed Allahabad as Prayagraj.
In 1857 the city was a major centre of revolt against the East India Company.
Prayagraj is Famous for
Being an ancient city, Prayagraj has a rich and varied culture, and the point of confluence is a breath-taking sight.
Art and Culture
The rich literary and artistic heritage has always attracted visitors from afar, like Fa Hien and Huen Tsang from China hundreds of years ago. It is also considered to be the birthplace of the holy Vedas, and the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Prayagraj gave birth to some of the biggest names in Hindi literature, like Mahadevi Varma, ‘Nirala’ and Harivansh Rai Bachchan. It is also one of the largest centres of publishing Hindi literature. The city hosts the largest religious gathering, the Kumbh Mela, once in 12 years, and the Ardh Kumbh Mela, once in 6 years. The city is also famed for its witty political graffiti.
Prayagraj is part of the Ganga-Yamuna Doab and this makes for some picturesque scenery and unique flora and fauna.
The city is considered holy because of the Sangam of the Ganga and Yamuna. Apart from this, the All Saints Cathedral, Hanuman Mandir and Patalpuri temple offer ample spiritual succour.
Prayagraj has a vast and diverse cultural heritage which is manifested in its magnificent architecture and rich literary tradition. There are several grand buildings and gardens dating back to the Mughal and Colonial eras.
Being the city of the Sangam, Prayagraj receives thousands of visitors every year.
Many Hindus from all over the country come here to conduct special pujas. Even bathing at the Sangam is considered holy by the devout. Millions throng the Kumbh Mela, held every 12 years, enticing even reclusive ‘sadhus’ from remote forests.
The Prayagraj University, established in 1876, is India’s oldest modern University. The city is also home to the Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology, Sam Higgin bottom Institute of Agriculture, Technology and Sciences and several other professional colleges. Needless to say, Prayagraj appeals to students from all over India.
Prayagraj’s s Culture
Though a holy city for Hindus, Prayagraj was under Muslim rule for many years, and this reflects in the dress and language of the people. Urdu and Hindi are spoken equally. Politics is followed fervently and discussions are held everywhere. Cricket, hockey and wrestling are the popular sports; several akharas (traditional wrestling arenas) can be seen here.
Today Prayagraj is mainly an industrial town, with small scale industries numbering over 3000. Major revenue for the people of Prayagraj comes from tourism, real estate and finance services.
Climate and Best Time to Visit
Prayagraj like most places in Northern India has extreme summers and winters. The perfect time to see the place is November-February.