ALLAHABAD’S SACRED location at the confluence (salaam) of three rivers the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati has givn it a cultural, political and religious importance for nearly 3,000 years. Hiuen Tsang, the Buddhist monk and scholar , visited the town, then known as Prayag, in AD 643, and wrote in great detail of its prosperity and fame.
In the 16th century it was captured by the Mughals who renamed it Allahahad. Later, the British maintained a large military presence in the city and established the law courts and the university. Jawaharlal Nehru India’s first prime minister, was born here in 1889, and the city later became a major centre of the Independence Movement. Today Allahabad is a quietly prosperous provincial centre, the broad, tree-lined avenues of the Civil Lines area contrasting with the congested bustle of the old city.
Allahahad Fort was built in 1583 by Akbar, who had a 3rdcentury BC Ashokan pillar brought here from Kausambi. The pillar, unfortunately, is in a part of the fort that is not open to the public. On the fort’s eastern side, is atemple complex with an undying banyan tree, the Akshaivata. Legend has it that anyone who leapt from its branches would achieve salvation from the endless cycle of rebirths. After too many such attempts, the tree was fenced off, and a special permit is required from the local tourist office to view it.
Khusrau Bagh, a tranquil Mughal garden on the western edge of town, is named after Emperor Jahangir’s eldest son who led an unsuccessful rebellion against his father and was later murdered during the battle over succession with his brother, Shah in 1615. His tomb lies next to those of his sister and his mother. The latter, a Rajput princess from Jaipur, distraught by the war between her husband and her son, took an overdose of opium. The chhatris on her tomb show Rajput influence.
Anand Bhavan, ancestral home of India’s premier political dynasty, the Nehru- Gandhi family, now houses a museum of Nehru memorabilia and chronicles the high points of the Independence Movement. Close by, in the Civil Lines area, is the fantastically arched and turreted Muir College built in 1870, and regarded a fine example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. Some glazed blue and white tiles still r cling to the dome and a ‘ single tower soars to a height of 60 m (197 ft). Across the road is the Allahahad Museum which has an interesting collection of terracottas from Kausambi and some 10th- to 13thcentury sculpture from the Chandela era. Across Civil Lines to the west stands the All Saints Cathedral. Constructed in 1877 and designed by William Emmerson, architect of the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata it is lined with Jaipur marble insid,
ENVIRONS: Kausambi, is 63 kin (39 miles) and about an hour’s drive from Allahahad on the eastern bank of the Yamaha. Excavated ruins of a stupa, a palace and extensive ramparts lie within a 2-km (1.3-mile) radius. While local legend holds that the city was built by the Pandavas, heroes off te Mahabharata excavations reveal that a Buddhist community flourished here between 600 BC and AD 600. The Buddha himself came here to preach. The site contains the remains off a paved brick road, small douses, each with a ceramic drain, and the stump of an Asltokan pillar dating to the 3rd century BC (a second pillar was moved to the Allahahad Fort). Some terracotta artifacts and seals from 200 BC which were found here are now in the Allahabad Museum. Surrounded by fields and villages, with the river in the background, Kausambi has an aura of