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Sightseeing in Allahabad

There are many options for sightseeing in Allahabad. Allahabad offers good is divided in two distinct halves by the railway station with the orderly grid patterned Civil Lines and adjoining districts forming the central and northern parts. The old city spreads along the eastern banks of the River Yamuna. Lying 7 kms from the centre is the holiest spot in Allahabad, the Sangam (confluence). Here the muddy brown Ganga meets the blue Yamuna and the mystical Saraswati, with a broad flood plain forming a sandy patch in between.

Devotees come for ritual bathing in the holy waters at the Sangam and priests or pandas perform special rites of worship to help them in their quest for salvation. The road to the Sangam is lined with stalls selling various religious paraphernalia, including flowers, vermilion powder, coconuts and other offerings. Pilgrims also come to these shores to perform the last rites of their relatives.

Boats can be hired at the main ghat (river landing used for bathing) east of the fort. To the south of the Sangam along the Yamuna lies the Saraswati Ghat and closeby on the banks of the Yamuna is the new Mankameshwar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Allahabad Fort, commissioned by Emperor Akbar in 1583, stands sentinel on the eastern bank of the Yamuna. The fort is occupied by the Indian army and therefore much of its lies out of bounds to the public. There are three gateways into the fort, which is surrounded by a 7-metre wall. You get the full impact of this impressive structure from boats on the river.

Other sightseeing areas are the Patalpuri temple, an underground temple believed to have been visited by Rama, the hero of Ramayana and an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The Akshaya Vat, a venerable old banyan tree, supposedly indestructible, sits in a protected space within the temple. Mentioned by the 7th century Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang, this tree is considered sacred and devotees would jump from it to gain moksha (salvation).

The Saraswati Kup or Well of Saraswati is believed to be the source of the elusive river Saraswati lies inside the Fort. Close to the fort's main entrance is the polished sandstone Ashoka Pillar, 10.6 metres high and dating from 242 BC. The pillar was brought from the Buddhist site of Kausambi by Emperor Akbar and has the edicts of Emperor Ashoka inscribed on it. It also carries an inscription in Persian declaring Jahangir’s accession to the Mughal throne. To visit the Fort, you will need to get permission from the Commandant at the Ordnance Depot inside.

Religiously incline travellers have many options for sightseeing. To the right of the fort is the Hanuman Temple, dedicated to the Monkey God. Painted a bright vermilion red, the colour associated with Hanuman, the temple houses a reclining image of the god. During the monsoons when the Ganga floods its banks, the temple gets submerged. A towering 130-feet structure called the Shankar Viman Mandapam houses images of important Hindu saints and divinities.

The site of the ancient Bhardwaj Ashram, said to have been visited by Lord Rama on his way to the forest now lies in the centre of the city. The ashram once housed nearly 10,000 students who studied under the tutelage of Sage Bhardwaj. To the west of the riverfront is the Minto Park, laid out by Lord Minto in 1910. A memorial in the park commemorates the proclamation of the assumption of rule by the British crown, announced by Lord Canning in 1858.

To the south of the Allahabad’s main railway station lie the Mughal gardens known as Khusrau Bagh. Dedicated to Khusrau, the rebel son of Emperor Jahangir, the garden holds his mausoleum. The simple sandstone tomb completed in 1622 lies next to that of Khusrau’s mother’s double-storeyed burial chamber. Beyond is another tomb believed to contain the remains of Khusrau’s sister.

The colonial area laid out in grid pattern during the mid-19th century holds remnants of the Raj era. They include sites like the Uttar Pradesh High Court, the All Saints Cathedral and Allahabad University. The 19th century All Saints’ Cathedral popularly known as Patthar Girjaghar (stone church) is a towering Gothic structure that still holds prayers and Sunday Mass. Designed by Sir William Emerson, the architect of the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta, the outstanding feature of this church is its vivid stained glass windows. The white marble exteriors are faced in red stone and the altar displays fine marble inlay work.

The St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Cathedral built in 1879 is to the northwest.Alfred Park or Company Bagh is now known as Chandra Shekhar Azad Park. A memorial tower stands within the park. The Public Library of Allahabad was shifted to its new location within the Park in 1879. The library has a collection of some 75,000 books besides historical manuscripts and journals.

On the edge of the Chandra Shekhar Azad Park sits the Allahabad Museum. The grounds of the museum have a display of ancient sculptures, while the interior houses a collection of ancient terracottas and stone sculptures. A remarkable image amongst the exhibits is a 12th century Shiva-Parvati from Khajuraho. The museum also exhibits ancient coins, traditional Rajasthani miniature paintings and works of some modern artists including Jamini Roy and Nicholas Roerich. The other sections of the museum include a portion devoted to natural history where stuffed birds and animals are in residence and a gallery on the independence movement with a good collection of photographs and historical documents.

North of the Museum is the 19th century Allahabad University with its Indo-Saracenic buildings. Among the most prominent colonial buildings within the campus is the Muir College, now housing the Science Faculty, built in 1874 by Sir William Emerson. A quadrangle within has tall ornate arches and a 61-metre tower crested with domes. The tower was built in ochre stone brought from Mirzapur, while the floors are made of marble and mosaic.

The domes are covered with blue and white glazed tiles from the town of Multan, now in Pakistan. The Mayo Memorial Hall, built in 1879, had a 180 feet tower. Decorated by Professor Gamble of the South Kensington Museum in London, the hall commemorated Lord Mayo and was built to host public meetings, receptions and balls.

About a kilometer from the Museum is the sprawling Anand Bhawan, an elaborate Victorian building set amid well laid out lawns. Home of Pandit Motilal Nehru and his son Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, this house has now been turned into a museum. Memorabilia of the Nehru family are displayed here. The old section of the Anand Bhawan called Swaraj Bhawan was donated to the nation in 1930 by Pandit Motilal Nehru. Swaraj Bhawan was used as headquarters of the Congress Party. Indira Gandhi, the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru and later Prime Minister of India was born here.Within the grounds of Anand Bhawan is the Jawahar Planetarium . Running four shows in Hindi in a day, the planetarium is of special interest for stargazers.

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