Saturday, May 26, 2012

Allahabad

Sangam Allahabad

The city of Allahabad is among the largest cities of Uttar Pradesh and is situated at the confluence of three rivers - Ganga, Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati. The meeting point is known as 'Triveni' and is especially sacred to Hindus. The earlier settlements of the Aryans were established in this city, then known as Prayag. Its sanctity is manifest by references to it in Purans, the Ramayan and the Mahabharata. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma, the creator God of the Trinity, chose a land on earth (i.e. Prayag) to perform 'Prakrista Yag', at the beginning of the creation and he also referred to it as 'Tirth Raj' or the 'King of all pilgrimage centres'. As per writing of 'Padam Puran' - "As the sun is amongst the moon and the moon amongst the stars, likewise 'Prayag' is best amongst all places of pilgrimage".

Emperor Akbar founded this city in 1575 AD by the name of 'Illahabas' which has now become modern Allahabad. The monarch realized its strategic importance as a waterway landmark in North India and also built a magnificent fort on the banks of holi 'Yamuna'. Allahabad today is an important city where history, culture and religion create a magical confluence, much like the sacred rivers that caress this blessed land. Due to its religious importance, many pilgrims come to Allahabad in the bathing season, the Hindu month of Magh (mid January to mid-february), to purify themselves. During this month, a great gathering and fair called Magh Mela takes place on the sands. Every 12th year when the waters are felt to be especially purifying, Allahabad holds a much greater festival called Kumbh Mela. Many millions of pilgrims attend this festival, coming from all over India. It is believed that bathing during Kumbh cures the bather of all sins and evils and grants the bather salvation.

In 1885, Mark Twain wrote about Allahabad Kumbh -"Pilgrims plodded for months in heat to get here, worn, poor and hungry, but sustained by unwavering faith".
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